Research Article: Italian validation of the Children’s Shyness Questionnaire: Exploring associations between shyness and psychosocial functioning

Date Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Valentina Spensieri, Rita Cerutti, Fabio Presaghi, Simone Amendola, W. Ray Crozier, Marianna Mazza.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217722

Abstract

In recent years, researchers have begun to explore the implications of shyness for the psychosocial wellbeing of children and adolescents, exploring its association with internalizing problems. Research in an Italian context is hindered by the lack of a validated self-report measure of shyness. We report two studies aimed to assess the psychometric properties of an Italian translation of the Children’s Shyness Questionnaire (CSQ-it) and investigate its correlations with convergent and divergent constructs. The first study aimed to examine associations between CSQ-it and self-report measures of anxiety and somatic symptoms and attachment with parents and peers. The second study aimed to investigate its relations to internet addiction.

The self-report measures were completed by 550 participants in the first study and 131 participants in the second study. Parents provided information on their child’s problems. Psychometric properties were assessed by Cronbach’s alpha in both studies and by exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis in Study 1. The relations between shyness and measures of internalizing problems and attachments were analyzed by correlational methods. In Study 2 a moderated mediation model tested the hypothesis that the relationship between shyness and internet addiction is mediated by somatic symptoms and that shyness moderates the relationship between somatic symptoms and internet addiction.

The reliability and validity of the Italian Version of the Children’s Shyness Questionnaire were satisfactory. Results from confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the single-factor model of the questionnaire previously identified in North American and Chinese studies. There were significant correlations between shyness, anxious and somatic symptomatology, impaired psychosocial functioning and specific components of attachment relationships. In Study 2 the indirect effect of shyness on internet addiction through somatic symptoms was significant as well as significantly moderated for high shyness scores but not for low levels of shyness.

To our knowledge this is the first study that explored the psychometric proprieties of the Children’s Shyness Questionnaire in the Italian context. Findings demonstrated that this self-reported measure of shyness has sound psychometric properties and can be used as a sensitive and appropriate instrument for the assessment of shyness in children and adolescents.

Partial Text

Psychologists define shyness as a temperament or personality trait that is characterized by wariness and anxiety in the face of social novelty and perceived social evaluation, reticence in social situations, and embarrassment and self-consciousness in situations where shy individuals perceive themselves as being, or likely to be, socially evaluated [1].

The CSQ was translated into Italian and its reliability and factorial structure were examined. The study tested relationships between the CSQ and four relevant variables drawn from previous research into children’s shyness: somatic symptomatology; anxiety; difficulties in physical functioning; attachment relationships to both parents and peers.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to use the CSQ to assess shyness among schoolchildren in Italy. Overall, the findings demonstrated the reliability and validity of the CSQ-it. The goodness of fit of the factorial structure of the CSQ within an Italian context was confirmed, showing the presence of a single factor that defined shyness, in line with previous studies [44,48]. Findings from the confirmatory factor analyses replicated the established single-factor model of this measure previously reported in samples of North American and Chinese children [44,48,66]. Analysis of the factorial structure and psychometric properties of the CSQ-it suggests that internal states such as shyness can be measured through self-report questionnaires since it involves the child’s feelings of self-consciousness and fear of negative self-evaluation. In particular, it suggests that from the age of eight years, children are sufficiently mature to understand and explain their own internal states and are competent in indicating their own levels of shyness.

Shy children are more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral patterns that make them vulnerable to addiction to the internet, even if not all shy children use the internet in an excessive or risky way, and not all those who use the internet excessively experience somatic symptomatology. The aim of the second study is to test the hypothesis that shyness moderates the link between somatic symptoms and internet addiction and to explore the specific role of somatic symptoms in the association between shyness and internet addiction, hypothesizing a mediating effect.

The mean Shyness score was 13.6 (SD = 7.89) with females (M = 15.5, SD = 8.54) scoring significantly (F(1,108) = 6.98, p < 0.01, η2 = 0.061) higher on average than males (M = 11.63, SD = 6.68). Considering the cut-off scores of Shyness, we identified 11 adolescents with Shyness scores greater than 1 SD above the mean. Turning to somatization, we found that approximately 50% of participants reported no somatic complaints, 12.7% reported only one symptom (n = 14), 20.1% reported two to four symptoms (n = 22), 16.5% complained of five to eight symptoms (n = 16) and 2.7% reported more than eight symptoms (n = 3). Considering internet addiction, the sample’s IAT score was M = 43.66 (SD = 12.21) with males scoring somewhat higher (M = 44.67; SD = 12.41) than females (M = 42.70, SD = 12.05), although the difference was not statistically significant (F(1,108) = 0.714, df = 1, p = 0.400, η2 = 0.006). The aim of this second study was to explore the link between shyness, internalizing problems and internet addiction. Before testing the hypotheses underlying the study, the first step provided further evidence of the sound psychometric properties of the CSQ-it in terms of divergent validity in the Italian context. Second, the role of somatic symptoms in the relationship between shyness and internet addiction was investigated and the interaction between shyness and somatic symptoms was evaluated in predicting internet addiction. The primary goal of the studies presented here was to broaden our knowledge of shyness in an Italian sample by providing new empirical evidence about its measurement and its correlates.   Source: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217722

 

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