Everyday life is not easy for an anxious person. Shyness, weakening of social ties, lack of communication, the consequences can sometimes be complicated in a society. A study published in the journal PLOS One revealed the different signs a shy person exhibits when interacting with unknown people.
To conduct this study, researcher Irma Konovalova and her team in Southampton, England, studied the behaviours of people that were considered shy or had Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) when meeting strangers. Thirty university students then responded to the study.
The averted gaze
One-on-one in a room and equipped with glasses that allow for eye movement detection, the initial announcement of the study was about their research methods. The real purpose of this experiment was to study what happens when these students meet strangers.
In this room, the strangers then returned, and the researchers analysed the outcome of their eye reaction to this presence. The shy people quickly shared one thing in common: the averted gaze.
The study reports that shy people 'exhibited a shorter initial fixation on the stranger and less visual scanning of the environment.' Looking at the stranger, their clothes, their hands or their general appearance remains a complicated practice for shy or anxious people.
The second objective was also to test whether there was 'hyper vigilance' on the part of shy people, which was neither verified nor disproved by the study.
Fear of social judgement and starting a conversation with the stranger is one of the main disorders of people with anxiety. Therefore, these people seek to avoid the gaze of the other as best they can. The study states that 'people with SAD were particularly determined to avoid social interactions.'