Shyness, sociability, and social dysfunction in schizophrenia
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Recent bio-developmental models of shyness traits (Schmidt, L.A., Fox, N.A., 1998. The development and outcomes of childhood shyness. Annals of Child Development 13, 1--20; Schmidt, L.A. Fox, N.A., 1999. Conceptual, biological, and behavioural distinctions among different types of shy children. In: Schmidt, L.A., Schulkin, J. (Eds.), Extreme Fear, Shyness, and Social Phobia: Origins, Biological Mechanisms, and Clinical Outcomes. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 47--66) have proposed that childhood shyness and early sociability troubles may be a precursor to pervasive social dysfunction in adulthood. An important question in testing the vulnerability model is to determine the severity of shyness among adults who have a serious social dysfunction, such as individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. The Cheek and Buss Shyness and Sociability Scales (Cheek, J.M., Buss, A.H., 1981. Shyness and sociability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 41, 330--339) and the Reznick Retrospective Self-report of Inhibition (Reznick, J.S., Hegeman, I.N., Kaufman, E.R., Woods, S.W., Jacobs, M., 1992. Retrospective and concurrent self-report of behavioural inhibition and their relation to adult mental health. Development and Psychopathology 4, 301--321) were administered to 23 schizophrenia outpatients and 23 control subjects matched for age and sex. The results indicated that individuals with schizophrenia showed significantly more shyness (P<0.004), lower sociability (P<0.02) and more recollections of childhood social troubles (P<0.007) compared with the control group. Within the schizophrenia group, both shyness traits (P<0.04) and limited sociability (P<0.01) were clearly associated with interpersonal dysfunction, while significant correlations were also found between troubled sociability and negative symptoms (P<0.05). The findings of shyness traits, impaired sociability and more recollections of childhood social difficulties among stable outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia are consistent with predictions based on a bio-developmental shyness vulnerability model.
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