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Behavioral Inhibition (Shyness)

Temperament has been defined by Mary Rothbart and her colleagues in terms of biologically based individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation. Behavioral inhibition, a major dimension of temperament, involves shyness, timidity, and avoidance in unfamiliar contexts. Behaviorally inhibited children tend to have heightened vigilance, especially in novel situations. These children are more likely to avoid social interaction, preferring to watch others rather than engage in interaction themselves. Behavioral inhibition is also associated with elevated attention to potential threat cues, referred to as attention bias. Behavioral inhibition in childhood is associated with functioning across the lifespan and is linked with both biological characteristics and environmental factors. This entry discusses the development and outcomes of behavioral inhibition.

Development

In terms of its precursors in infancy, behavioral inhibition in childhood ...

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