Shyness is associated with social-emotional maladjustment in some, but not all, children. The ability to flexibly regulate attention under conditions of potential conflict may protect shy children from developing internalizing problems. In the current study, the associations between shyness, the N2 event related potential (ERP) response, and social-emotional adjustment were examined in a sample of 36 typically developing 9- to 13-year-old children. It was hypothesized that the N2 amplitude, an ERP measure associated with aspects of cognitive and attention control, would moderate the associations between shyness and social-emotional functioning (negative attribution style, social self-perceptions, social anxiety). Shyness was unrelated to behavioral or ERP measures collected during a modified Flanker task; however, shyness and N2 amplitude were alone and in combination associated with all three measures of social adjustment. In general, shyness was associated with poor outcomes primarily among children with relatively large amplitude, or enhanced, N2 responses. The results are discussed in terms of the role of conflict sensitivity in the regulation of attention and emotions associated with shyness and the importance of studying the combined influences of reactive and self-regulatory aspects of temperament in relation to adjustment in childhood.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology