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Measuring the Degree of Shyness

Atsushi Aikawa, Ph.D., CRET Board of Directors

 

There are two types of people: those who get very shy when speaking to a person of the opposite sex or giving a presentation to a large audience, and those who don't. What are the differences between them?

 

If we want to clarify the characteristics of each individual, I thought we need to measure the degree of each person's shyness and so I presented the Shyness Scale in 1991. I prepared 16 sentences like "I am shy" and "I am a reserved person," and then asked respondents to answer the appropriateness of each sentence for describing themselves, using the numbers from 1 to 6.

This scale is still being used for various research studies today, but this traditional approach of a questionnaire method has the weakness that respondents can tell a lie. By reading these sentences, respondents can see what we want to measure about them. So when they want to flatter themselves or hide their real thoughts, they would not answer properly or give true answers. If that is the case, it is not possible to correctly measure the degree of their shyness.

 

So now, with young researchers, I am trying to measure the degree of shyness not through a questionnaire method but through a different method called an Implicit Association Test (IAT). In this test, some words appear on a PC screen one by one, and respondents are asked to sort out each word either on the right or the left of the screen. We measure the time the respondents need to sort each word. For example, we show a word "shy" on the screen and measure the time the respondent needs to sort it either to the right of the screen that says "self-shy" or the left of the screen "others-outgoing." After a while, we show the same word "shy," but this time we ask them to sort it to either "others-shy" or "self-outgoing," and then measure the time required. If the degree of the respondent's shyness is high, the respondent would need less time to sort the word "shy" between "self-shy" and "others-outgoing," compared to between "others-shy" and "self-outgoing." By measuring the time difference, therefore, we are able to grasp the degree of the respondent's shyness.

 

To measure something intangible like this degree of shyness, a psychologist is trying various ways as such.

(December 19, 2012)

Atsushi Aikawa

Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba

Ph.D. in Psychology

He took his current position after serving as a professor of Tokyo Gakugei University. He is a director of the Japanese Association of Educational Psychology, a regular director of the Japanese Society of Social Psychology, and a member of editorial board of the Japanese Journal of Social Psychology published by the Japanese Society of Social Psychology.

◆ Publications:
Skills for Getting Along with People: Psychology for Social Skills, New Edition, Saiensu-sha, 2009
Outlook on Modern Social Psychology 2: Communication and Personal Relations, Seishin Shobo, 2010
Illustrated Child’s Social Skills: 42 Methods to Gain Courage and Confidence in Relationships with Friends, Godo-shuppan, 2011, and others

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This laboratory conducts research on test evaluation and analysis. We also perform joint research and exchange programs with overseas testing research institutes.







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This laboratory conducts research and development into testing approaches that measure communication skills, teamwork skills, and social skills, etc.

Dr. Atsushi Aikawa

Professor,
Faculty of Human Sciences,
University of Tsukuba
Ph.D. in Psychology

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This laboratory conducts research on the foundation of computer-based testing, and basic research on media and recognition, as well as applied and practical research
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Dr. Kanji Akahori

Professor Emeritus of
Tokyo Institute of
Technology

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