Home > News, observations > Shyness may contribute to school shootings, says researcher

Shyness may contribute to school shootings, says researcher

October 14, 2007

With yet another school shooting in the news I was reminded of a recent article on ScienceDaily, about shyness:

After performing an analysis of school shootings in the last decade, researchers at the Shyness Research Institute in Indiana say that the perpetrators are likely to suffer from cynical shyness—an extreme form of shyness that predominantly affects males and can lead to violent behavior.
Science Daily —Cynical Shyness Can Precipitate Violence In Males And May Be Factor In School Shootings

Ok, yeah, sure, that makes sense… Wait a minute!  There’s a Shyness Institute? Is this Science Daily, or The Onion?  I can’t help imagining a comedy routine; “I called the Shyness Institute, but they wouldn’t pick up…”

Yes, it turns out there really is a “Shyness Institute” at Indiana University Southeast.  It is led by Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, PhD, and…

The Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast was established in 1997 to promote understanding in the area of shyness. The main function of the institute is help understand the pains and problems of shyness, not to market a cure. Bernardo Carducci, director, has been quoted as saying, “We’d rather understand shy people than change them.” Carducci and the associates at the Institute receive many responses from shy individuals from all over the world. By carefully analyzing these many responses, those at the Shyness Research Institute hope to aid those who are shy in understanding the dynamics of their shyness.

I have known some extremely shy people.  It was a genuine disability for them, and made more painful by the fact that many people – even the shy persons themselves – mistakenly believed it was a character flaw.  None of them had gotten to the point where they hated other people because of it… or maybe they had.  How would we know?

Social interaction is like traffic; it has rules, it has timing, and we gauge others’ intentions by how they apply the rules and mesh with the timing.  A second too long or too short of eye contact, or a moment’s delay in recognition, and a person finds themselves outcast, a victim of their malfunctioning mirror neurons.  It is a lot worse for children.

I have no advice for parents of shy children but for everyone else: teach your kids to take a deep breath, get control of their tendency to outcast others who are different, and cut shy people some slack.  Behind that downcast countenance is a human being who might become a good friend.  To quote the philosopher, “Don’t be cruel”.  In the long run, a little kindness might be more important than all the defense we can clamp down on our campuses.

Categories: News, observations
  1. October 14, 2007 at 18:06 | #1

    get control of their tendency to outcast others who are different, and cut shy people some slack.

    I agree. I would say there isn’t so much a tendency for shy people to go on a killing rampage, but there is a tendency for society to outcast those that are an “MTV Normal Person”. Some people can only take so much and reach a point where they just break down. I am by no means saying it’s okay to kill people that piss you off, but I think school shootings could be solved by creating a more open environment in schools.

    I had a high school class where the teacher joined in with some students to help make fun of me. Needless to say I am not at all fond of the idea of outing someone cause they might be different.

    In the long run, a little kindness might be more important than all the defense we can clamp down on our campuses.

    Yea but metal detectors make it looks like the superintendent is actually doing something…

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