There has always been a divide between introverted people and extroverted people; it is one of the first things noticed about a person. This has always been a characteristic that was thought to be innate, however recently there have been many studies attempting to define and find cause of these traits that have been coined shyness and self-confidence. An article written in the Social Psychology Quarterly by Philip Manning and George Ray entitled Shyness, Self-Confidence, and Social Interaction explores an experiment that was preformed at a mid-western university and attempts to define characteristics of shy and self-confident people during interpersonal interactions.
The experiment explained in the article used 20 students in an introductory interpersonal communications class and recorded the interactions between the students. First, the students were given a test to see if by standard evaluations they would be considered either shy or self-confident. Two students were placed in an observation room, both of same sex and same orientation, meaning both either shy or self-confident. This procedure was followed ten more times to look at all 20 students. The findings were relatively as expected; shy conversations were less vibrant and did not have the topical talk that was in most self-confident conversations.
We show that conversations by shy participants were dominated initially by setting talk. There were many pretopical sequences, most of which did not develop into topics. Turn transitions were difficult . . . it was not always true. This procedure was not used whenever one or both speakers found themselves discussing what we call a favored topic. (190)
The findings with self-confident were intuitive, the followed roughly the opposite patterns. Setting talk was minimized; the speakers began with a name exchange and the quickly introduced the first pretopical sequence. . . Topics were often chosen by activating situated identity. (190)
This article, while highly reinforced by evidence, left still an uneasy feeling about the use of the words shyness and self-confidence. Within this context, they are seen as contradictory characteristics, however within society they might now always be viewed in such manner. Shyness is more of an innate thing, not negative. In the article it was suggested that shyness was something that needed to be fix, was detrimental and even might be over come though the use of pharmaceutical product. (179). The terms communication apprehension or social phobia are more suiting for the problem depicted in the article. The idea that self-confidence is what the ideal person should strive for is positive, but the idea that self-confidence is everything that shy people are not is incorrect. Also this article did not explore people who use the exertion of over self-confidence and come on too strong, as compensation for a complete lack of self-confidence. The underlying concept of the article is well taken; there are clear differences between the socially confident people and socially unconfident people. People who are unable use social grace to their fullest advantage should be taught how. However, within this article there is no evidence that there is a direct correlation between these set of characteristics which seemingly can be taught and the ones that are inherent and are true self-confidence or plain shyness.
Manning, Philip. Ray, George. Shyness, Self-Confidence, and Social Interaction.
Social Psychology Quarterly Volume 56 (Sept.,1993).