As a young child, I was painfully shy. I’d watch other children at play in the park, wishing I could join their ranks for a game of tag, hide-and-seek, or jump rope, but too scared to approach them. Eventually, my mother would come to the rescue. She’d get up from the bench where she was sitting with the other moms, take my hand, and ask the other kids if I could play too. The answer was always yes (I’m sure the other children didn’t want to get in trouble with their own moms), and then I’d be all set for the rest of the afternoon… until the pattern repeated itself the next day.
I became less awkward and more outgoing as I grew up, thankfully—though I never turned into what you’d call a social butterfly. Today, I feel comfortable giving public lectures in large auditoriums, and having conversations in small groups, but I still tend to dodge situations in which I’m expected to ‘mingle’ with a roomful of strangers (I’m working on it).
The reasons for my aversion could be manifold. For one, I might be carrying some residual childhood fear of rejection. But beyond that possibility, one likely element is that I tend to underestimate how much people like me after I meet them. As most of us do.
A new research paper, published last week in Psychological Science, reports that the common concern that new people may not like us, or that they may not enjoy our company, is largely unfounded.
Read the whole story: Scientific American