Shyness and Embarrassment
Compared: Siblings in the
Service of Social Evaluation
Rowland S. Miller
COMPARING EMBARRASSMENT AND SHYNESS
SIMILARITIES OF THE STATES
Almost anyone reading this chapter has been embarrassed (Miller, 1992,1996), and most of us have been shy (Carducci, 1999). Indeed, the prevalence of embarrassment and shyness in human social life suggests that central aspects of our dealings with others may be involved in the two states. In fact, embarrassment and shyness may share the same origins, at least in part. Both of them may emerge from the same primal social motive: arguably, neither embarrassment nor self-conscious shyness would exist if people did not care what others thought of them.
On the other hand, one of the two states may generally be adaptive whereas the other is detrimental, and one may be a short-lived emotion whereas the other is a longer-lasting mood. Thus, although they are close relations with much in