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Shyness and Romantic Relationships: Emphasis on Loneliness, Self-esteem, and Romantic Partner Conflict
    Tracie Nicole Stacy     Texas A & M University - San Antonio
    Sarah Ann Morales     Texas A & M University - San Antonio
    Amy K Dicke-Bohmann     Texas A & M University - San Antonio

It has been found in previous research that shyness is negatively associated with romantic relationship quality (Rowsell & Coplan, 2013) and general psychological well-being (Nelson et al, 2008). The goal of this study was to investigate the links between shyness and romantic relationship quality, but the investigators were interested in additional variables such as loneliness, self-esteem, and romantic partner conflict.
It was hypothesized that those in a relationship would score lower on shyness and loneliness, and higher on self-esteem than those not in a relationship. It was also predicted that their scores on shyness and loneliness will correlate positively with romantic conflict and negatively with relationship satisfaction. Those who score higher on loneliness and shyness are also predicted to score higher on maladaptive romantic conflict styles.

Method: An online questionnaire was administered to 157 participants, comprised of 35 males and 114 females (eight did not list sex) assessing their shyness (Cheek & Buss, 1981), loneliness (Russell, 1996), self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965), relationship conflict (Zacchilli, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 2009) and satisfaction (Hendrick, 1988) and current romantic relationship status. Participants were recruited via email to undergraduate classes, acquaintances of the principal investigator, and via Facebook. Their mean age was 29.02, with a range of 18 to 57.

Results: Participants in relationships did not score significantly differently than their single counterparts on loneliness, shyness, or self-esteem. Those who scored lower on shyness and loneliness were less likely to compromise in a conflict than those who scored higher on both variables (t(89)=2.834, p<.009 and t(89)=3.806, p<.0001 respectively). They were also more likely to engage in interactional reactivity (including emotional hostility and lack of trust; one item is “My partner and I often argue because I do not trust him/her”), than those scoring higher on shyness and loneliness (t(87)=-3.659, p<.0001 and t(87)=-2.220, p<.029 respectively). The same pattern was found for submission: t(87)=-2.645, p<.01 for shyness and t(87)=3.070, p<.003 for loneliness. Those with high self-esteem scored higher on compromising than those with low self-esteem, t(89)=-2.636, p<.01. Relationship satisfaction was not correlated with shyness, but was negatively correlated with loneliness [r(88)=-.402, p<.0001] and positively correlated with self-esteem [r(88)=.278, p<.009]. Finally, research showed that shyness and loneliness are positively correlated, regardless of current romantic relationship status [r(140)=.507, p<.0001].

Conclusions: The association between shyness and romantic relationship satisfaction in the current study only partially replicated the results of previous research. Shyness was not correlated with romantic relationship quality, as measured by relationship satisfaction (Hendrick, 1988). However, shyness and loneliness were correlated with techniques romantic partners use to solve conflicts. Rowsell and Coplan (2013) used a traditional college-age sample, while this study included many middle-aged adults.
The next step in this research can be a study of general psychological well-being, in addition to a more in-depth analysis of romantic conflict, adding other personality variables.

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