Does the idea of mingling at a party send cold fingers of dread creeping up your spine? Or the thought of giving a presentation in front of a room full of people make you feel physically sick?
If so, then you are not alone.
Akindele Michael was a shy kid. Growing up in Nigeria he spent a lot of time indoors at his parents’ house. His parents, incidentally, are not shy. He believes that his sheltered upbringing is linked to his shyness – but is he right?
Partly, says Thalia Eley, professor of developmental behavioural genetics at Kings College London.
“We think of shyness as a temperamental trait and temperament is like a precursor to personality,” she says. “When very young children are starting to engage with other people you see variation in how comfortable [they] are in speaking to an adult that they don’t know.”