Bandura argued that the personality system obtains its coherence and formation by and through interactions with the social world. It is from these social interactions that beliefs and evaluations about the self develop, the most important of which is self-efficacy. What impact do these social cognitive beliefs about the self have on long-term and stable personality development?
That was the fundamental question that Gian Caprara, Patrizia Steca, Daniel Cervone, and Danielle Artistico (2003) set out to answer. More specifically, they examined the impact that self-efficacy beliefs have on dispositional shyness. Although shyness lias a strong temperamental and biological basis (Kagan, 1994), it also has been shown to be malleable by environmental events and experiences. For instance, consistent with Kagan's view that shyness levels can change, Sclunidt and Fox (2002) reviewed the literature demonstrating that temperamentally shy children who attend day care are less likely to become shy than those who do not attend day care.
The basic model predicted by Caprara et al. (2002) was a chain of influence that starts with emotional self-efficacy, moves to interpersonal self-efficacy, and these hi turn influence personality dispositions such as shyness. The reasoning was that the first step hi the process is regulating the negative affect that underlies shyness and the positive and negative effect of interpersonal relations. Havhig a sense of efficacy regarding positive emotion and positive social interactions should lead to lower levels of dispositional shyness. In general, the model assumes that emotional processes occur prior to interpersonal relations, which in turn precede dispositional traits of shyness.
To test this model, Caprara et al. collected data over a 2-year time period on Italian adolescents" between the ages of 14 and 17. At thne 1, the sample averaged 15 years of age, and at time 2, they averaged 17 years of age. Such a longitudinal design allowed Caprara and colleagues to test the causal sequence from thne 1 to thne 2. Measures included self-efficacy to regulate negative emotions and to manage positive emotions. Example items included "I can calm myself in stressful situations" and "I can feel gratified over achieving what I set out to do." Interpersonal self-efficacy was measured by a 30-item questionnaire and included efficacy questions about people hi general as well as parents. Emotional stability (neuroticism) was measured by a 24-item scale of an Italian version of the Big-Five Questionnaire. Only shyness was assessed at thne 1 and time 2.
Results showed there were tlnee gender differences: Boys were better at regulating negative emotions and emotional stability, and ghls were higher in managing positive emotions. No gender differences existed hi interpersonal self-efficacy or shyness. All forms of self-efficacy were related to one another. Emotional stability was related to regulating negative emotions, and shyness was stable between time 1 and thne 2, and negatively related to emotional stability. Moreover, both interpersonal self-efficacy and emotional stability were negatively related to shyness at time 1: Having high interpersonal self-efficacy and emotional stability at time 1 resulted in lower levels of shyness at time 1. Interestingly, when looking at the influences over thne, only the path from social self-efficacy (time 1) was significantly related to shyness at time 2. That is, having high social self-efficacy predicts shyness 2 years later; filial self-efficacy and emotional stability do not.
In summary, shyness is not only the result of temperamental and biological processes; it is also the result of people using their capacities for self-reflection, which permits them to hiterpret their experiences and to envision themselves coping with future challenges.
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