Eugene Ji

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Lynne Zarbatany


This study examined the shy behaviour of shy children in their familiar peer groups, and variation in shy behaviour as a function of peer group supportiveness. Participants were 390 children (172 boys, 218 girls) in the fourth through eighth grade (Mage = 11.06, SD = 1.38). Children’s shyness was measured with peer nominations, and peer groups were identified by the Social Cognitive Map procedure. Observations of peer groups during a 10-minute free-play session were coded for solitary and self-expressive behaviour, and peer group supportiveness and unsupportiveness. Hierarchal linear models indicated that shyness predicted greater solitary behaviour and less self-expressive behaviour. The link between shyness and solitary (but not self-expressive) behaviour was stronger in unsupportive peer groups. These findings suggest that shy children may be especially sensitive to negative contextual influences. Further research is needed to identify behavioural and group characteristics that ease shy children into normative levels of social interaction with peers, and affective and social processes that impede their successful social integration.



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