Do shy individuals prefer socializing on the internet? And if so, do they become less shy while on the internet and have more friends?
In 2009, the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior published an article that investigated this issue. Specifically, the researchers investigated the relationship between shyness and Facebook use.
The study was conducted by Emily S. Orr and her colleagues from the University of Windsor.
To examine this relationship, 103 undergraduate students from a university in Ontario completed an online questionnaire that assessed self-reported shyness, time spent on Facebook, number of Facebook friends, and attitudes towards Facebook.
The results of this questionnaire indicated that shy individuals tended to have fewer Facebook friends and reported spending more time on Facebook. They were also more likely to have a more favorable attitude towards Facebook than those who were less shy.
Orr and her colleagues believe that the relative anonymity provided by Facebook may explain the increased use of and favorable attitude towards Facebook.
Shy individuals may find Facebook appealing because of “the anonymity afforded by online communication, specifically, the removal of many of the verbal and nonverbal cues associated with face-to-face interactions,” as Orr and her colleagues explain.
Those who find face-to-face communication uncomfortable may use Facebook as a way to remain connected to the social world while avoiding physical social interaction.
“These findings suggest that although shy individuals do not have as many contacts on their Facebook profiles, they still regard this tool as an appealing method of communication and spend more time on Facebook than do nonshy individuals.”
Orr, E.S., Sisic, M., Ross, C., Simmering, M.G., Arsenault, J.M. & Orr, R.R. (2009). The influence of shyness on the use of facebook in an undergraduate sample. CyberPsychology and Behavior, Vol 12, No 3: 337-340.