Shy Adolescents' Perceptions of Parents' Psychological Control and Emotional Warmth: Examining Bidirectional Links


Two kinds of parental behaviors—psychological control and emotional warmth—have been linked with children's shy behaviors. The questions we addressed are whether this applies to adolescent shyness, and whether shyness in itself might also affect perceptions of parental behaviors. The participants were 916 seventh to ninth graders in a longitudinal project. We used a cross-lagged panel model with three time points in MPlus with adolescents' self-reports of shyness and perceptions of parents' psychological control (intrusive control and rejection) and warmth. Shyness predicted an increase in perceptions of intrusive control by parents at Time 2, which then predicted an increase in shyness at Time 3. Shyness also predicted an increase in perceived rejection by parents at Time 2. Finally, shyness predicted decreases in parental warmth at both time points. The effects did not differ for boys and girls. These results show that adolescent shyness predicts parental behaviors, though perhaps less strongly than in childhood. They also suggest some bidirectional effects in which perceived parental responses to shy youths might serve to strengthen the shyness.