Shy Children are Less Sensitive to Some Cues to Facial Recognition
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Temperamental shyness in children is characterized by avoidance of faces and eye contact, beginning in infancy. We conducted two studies to determine whether temperamental shyness was associated with deficits in sensitivity to some cues to facial identity. In Study 1, 40 typically developing 10-year-old children made same/different judgments about pairs of faces that differed in the appearance of individual features, the shape of the external contour, or the spacing among features; their parent completed the Colorado childhood temperament inventory (CCTI). Children who scored higher on CCTI shyness made more errors than their non-shy counterparts only when discriminating faces based on the spacing of features. Differences in accuracy were not related to other scales of the CCTI. In Study 2, we showed that these differences were face-specific and cannot be attributed to differences in task difficulty. Findings suggest that shy children are less sensitive to some cues to facial recognition possibly underlying their inability to distinguish certain facial emotions in others, leading to a cascade of secondary negative effects in social behaviour.
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