Shyness and face scanning in children
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Contrary to popular beliefs, a recent empirical study using eye tracking has shown that a non-clinical sample of socially anxious adults did not avoid the eyes during face scanning. Using eye-tracking measures, we sought to extend these findings by examining the relation between stable shyness and face scanning patterns in a non-clinical sample of 11-year-old children. We found that shyness was associated with longer dwell time to the eye region than the mouth, suggesting that some shy children were not avoiding the eyes. Shyness was also correlated with fewer first fixations to the nose, which is thought to reflect the typical global strategy of face processing. Present results replicate and extend recent work on social anxiety and face scanning in adults to shyness in children. These preliminary findings also provide support for the notion that some shy children may be hypersensitive to detecting social cues and intentions in others conveyed by the eyes. Theoretical and practical implications for understanding the social cognitive correlates and treatment of shyness are discussed.
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