Personality Development Within a Generational Context: Life Course Outcomes of Shy Children
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Studies have shown that shy children born in the 1920s and 1950s had delayed marriage and parenthood, less stable careers, and lower occupational attainment as adults than other children. Do these effects still hold true? We examined demographic and social outcomes of children born between 1977 and 1982 in a prospective longitudinal study. We assessed shyness in childhood (age 8), adolescence (age 12-16), young adulthood (age 22-26), and adulthood (age 30-35), and derived three shyness trajectories (i.e., decreasing, increasing, and low-stable). Social and demographic outcomes for shy children who outgrew their shyness (i.e., decreasing trajectory) were indistinguishable from those who were consistently low on shyness measures. However, a shyness trajectory beginning in adolescence and increasing to adulthood was associated with poorer outcomes, similar to previous studies. These findings highlight the importance of multiple assessments in long-term longitudinal studies and the need to consider personality development within a generational context.
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