In humans, shyness (also called diffidence) is a social psychology term used to describe the feeling of apprehension, lack of confidence, or awkwardness experienced when a person is in proximity to, approaching, or being approached by other people, especially in new situations or with unfamiliar people.
The term is often used by laypersons as a blanket-term for a family of related and partially overlapping afflictions, including timidity around new people, bashfulness and diffidence, lack of assertiveness, apprehension and anticipation of interaction, social anxiety, or intimidation. Shyness may come from personality introversion, genetic traits, or the environment in which a person is raised.
The condition of true shyness may simply involve the discomfort of difficulty in knowing what to say in social situations, or may include crippling physical manifestations of uneasiness. Shyness usually involves a combination of both symptoms, and may be quite devastating for the sufferer, in many cases leading them to feel that they are boring, or exhibit bizarre behaviour in an attempt to create interest, alienating them further. Instinctive behavioural traits in social situations such as smiling, easily producing suitable conversational topics, assuming a relaxed posture and making good eye contact, which come spontaneously for the average person, may not be second nature for a shy person, requiring struggle or being completely unattainable.
The term shyness may be implemented as a lay blanket-term for a family of related and partially overlapping afflictions, including timidity (apprehension in meeting new people), bashfulness and diffidence (lack of assertiveness), apprehension and anticipation (general fear of potential interaction), or intimidation (relating to the object of fear rather than one's low confidence). Apparent shyness, as perceived by others, may simply be the manifestation of reservation or introversion, character traits which cause an individual to voluntarily avoid excessive social contact or be terse in communication, but are not motivated or accompanied by discomfort, apprehension, or lack of confidence.
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