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Shyness bites twice

Shyness is not just a social handicap. Shy children underperform academically in relation to other children in school tests.

A study of more than 300 Year 5 children, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found that while differences in mathematics and English tests were small at age four and five, older children, aged nine and 10, seemed to be more disadvantaged by their shyness.

The tests were carried out face-to-face with an examiner or in a group setting in the classroom.

Under both conditions, the shy children performed sinificantly worse in both tests than the control group. Scores were particularly low in vocabulary and in the group setting.

Whether this indicates that shy children have cognitive problems or that their anxiety and self-consciousness affects their performance is not clear. But it does suggest, say the researchers, that there needs to be a better understanding of the educational implications of shyness.

Shy Schoolchildren's Performance on Tests of Vocabulary by Ray Crozier and Kirsen Hostettler, University of Cardiff School of Education

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