Shyness negatively affects marital quality

Shyness and marriage: does shyness shape even established relationships?

From Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

A key psychological question is to what extent a person’s personality determines the shape and quality of his or her social relationships. This research explores the specific impact of shyness on marital quality. It outlines how shy people reported more problems with issues like trust, jealousy, money, and household management, revealing they are less confident in dealing with the inevitable problems that marriage entails. However, there is potential to improve relationships, as shy people can be taught how to effectively resolve the problems they face. Marital difficulties sparked by personality can therefore be prevented by explicit training.


Do shy people struggle to maintain their relationships just as they struggle to develop them? The current research addressed this question through one cross-sectional and one longitudinal study in which recently married couples reported their levels of shyness, relationship self-efficacy, marital problem severity, and marital satisfaction. Multilevel modeling revealed that (a) shyness was negatively associated with concurrent marital satisfaction in Study 1 and with declines in marital satisfaction in Study 2, (b) the association between shyness and satisfaction was mediated by low levels of relationship self-efficacy in Study 1 and Study 2, and (c) the association between relationship self-efficacy and concurrent marital satisfaction was mediated by concurrent marital problems in Study 1, and the association between relationship self-efficacy and declines in marital satisfaction was mediated by worsening marital problems in Study 2. These findings join a growing body of research demonstrating the cognitive mechanisms through which personality shapes relationships.

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Article details:
Baker, L., & McNulty, J. (2010). Shyness and Marriage: Does Shyness Shape Even Established Relationships? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 (5), 665-676 DOI: 10.1177/0146167210367489

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