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Shyness (also called diffidence) is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is around other people.
Social skills training is not given any priority (unlike reading and writing) and as a result, shy students are not given an opportunity to develop their ability to participate in class and interact with peers.
As with other studies of behavioral genetics, the study of shyness is complicated by the number of genes involved in, and the confusion in defining, the phenotype.
Naming the phenotype – and translation of terms between genetics and psychology — also causes problems.
Mouse models have also been used, to derive genes suitable for further study in humans; one such gene, the glutamic acid decarboxylase gene (which encodes an enzyme that functions in GABA synthesis), has so far been shown to have some association with behavioral inhibition.
Another gene, the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) exon III polymorphism, had been the subject of studies in both shyness and aggression and is currently the subject of studies on the "novelty seeking" trait.
Several genetic links to shyness are current areas of research.
One is the serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism (5-HTTLPR), the long form of which has been shown to be modestly correlated with shyness in grade school children.
Some research has indicated that shyness and aggression are related—through long and short forms of the gene DRD4, though considerably more research on this is needed.
Further, it has been suggested that shyness and social phobia (the distinction between the two is becoming ever more blurred) are related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
A shy person may simply opt to avoid social situations instead.
One important aspect of shyness is social skills development.
The longitudinal survey data included measurements of shyness on a five-point scale based on interviews with the families being surveyed, and children in the top 25th percentile of shyness scores were identified.