Longitudinal investigation of shyness and physiological vulnerability: Moderating influences of attention biases to threat and safety Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Shyness has long been identified as a vulnerability factor to developing psychosocial problems, but there is heterogeneity in these observed outcomes. One potential factor underlying these relations is individual differences in threat sensitivity. Using a longitudinal design, we examined whether attentional biases toward social threat and safety measured during adulthood moderated the association between shyness measured in emerging adulthood (N = 83, nfemale = 48; Mage = 23.56 years, SDage = 1.09 years) and frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry at rest, a physiological index of vulnerability to psychopathology, measured nearly a decade later in adulthood (Mage = 31.68 years, SDage = 2.27 years). We found that only biases to threat moderated the association between shyness and resting frontal EEG asymmetry longitudinally. In individuals who displayed relative vigilance to social threat, shyness was associated with greater relative right frontal EEG activity at rest (i.e., increased physiological vulnerability). These findings suggest that attentional biases to threat may play a role in understanding the relation between shyness and some known physiological vulnerabilities to psychopathology in adults.

publication date

  • November 2021