Researchers have hypothesized that behavioral problems are accentuated when a shy person wants to be with other people. This need to be with others--sociability--is a related but separate construct from shyness. The purpose of the present study was to examine the correlation between physical appearance and shyness. Shyness is often a considerable handicap in social and occupational situations, and it can be inwardly distressing. Alfano, Joiner, and Perry (1994) pointed out that shyness is often associated with both depression and dysfunctional cognitions. How these dimensions relate to one another, however, is unclear. Does shyness have the properties of a personality trait and lead to depression, or does depression lead to shyness? Are both manifestations of some deeper personality trait? Where does attributional style, in the sense of dysfunctional cognitions, fit in?
In their 1994 study, Alfano et al. hypothesized that attributional style is a mediating variable--"the differences in depression between shy and non-shy subjects would be due to differences in their attributional style" (p.
290). They subsequently measured shyness, attributional style (two measures: negative cognitive achievement and negative interpersonal achievement), and depression (two measures) with standardized instruments in a sample of 251 college students. They then applied analyses of variance and covariance to the data to test their hypothesis that attributional style mediates between shyness and depression (as opposed to depression mediating between shyness and attributional style).
Having confirmed that their shy participants were more depressed and more negative than their non-shy counterparts, Alfano et al. (1994) tested their hypothesis in two stages, first by eliminating the effect of attributional style on depression and second by eliminating the effect of depression on attributional style. With the effect of attributional style statistically controlled, the differences between the shy and non-shy groups in depression became nonsignificant. However, with the effect of depression...