Influence Of Shyness And Body Dysmorphism On Internet Addiction

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology

Influence Of Shyness And Body Dysmorphism On Internet Addiction


The study investigated the influence of shyness and body dysmorphism on internet addiction among undergraduates. This small scale quantitative study looks into the relationship between shyness and internet addiction in undergraduates and secondary school students. This study has been conducted on the belief that shyness is a possible predictor of Internet Addiction. To prove this hypothesis a questionnaire was created and distributed to 53 secondary school students and 159 undergraduates. The results showed a relationship between shyness and Internet Addiction in secondary school but not in undergraduates. It was found that time was the predictor for Internet Addiction with undergraduates. In summary, this study addresses the problem of Internet Addiction and the possibility of shyness as being one of its forecasters by using Young’s (2002) Internet Addiction Scale and the Cheek and Buss (1981) Shyness Scale. A Pearson’s Correlation was performed to determine if there is a relationship between the two.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the study

Internet addiction has contributed a lot of problem over the years especially among secondary school students since they are the ones who use sophisticated phones mostly these days. Internet addiction result in personal, family, academic, financial, and occupational problem that are characteristic of other addictions. Impairments of real life relationships are disrupted as a result of excessive use of the internet.  Individuals suffering from Internet addiction spend more time in solitary seclusion, spend less time with real people in their lives, and are often viewed as socially awkward. Arguments may result due to the volume of time spent on-line. Those suffering from internet addiction may attempt to conceal the amount of time spent on-line, which results in distrust and the disturbance of quality in once stable relationships. Some suffering from Internet addiction may create on-line personas or profiles where they are able to alter their identities and pretend to be someone other than himself or herself. Those at highest risk for creation of a secret life are those who suffer from low-self- esteem feelings of inadequacy, and fear of disapproval.  Such negative self-concepts lead to clinical problems of depression and anxiety. Many persons who attempt to quit their Internet use experience withdrawal including: anger, depression, relief, mood swings, anxiety, fear, irritability, sadness, loneliness, boredom, restlessness, procrastination, and upset stomach.  Being addicted to the Internet can also cause physical discomfort or medical problems such as: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, backaches, severe headaches, eating irregularities, (such as skipping meals), failure to attend to personal hygiene, and sleep disturbance.

Internet addiction disorder, more commonly called problematic Internet use (PIU), (Moreno, Jelenchick & Christakis, 2013) refers to excessive Internet use that interferes with daily life (Byun, Ruffini, Mills, Juline, Douglas, Niang, Stepchenkova, Lee, Loutfi, Lee, Atallah & Blanton, 2009).

Internet addiction disorder was originally proposed as a disorder in a satirical hoax (Goldberg, 1995; Beato, 2010), although some later researchers have taken his essay seriously. He used this term because it was a suitable fit to his parody. This idea he conjured was to demonstrate the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders handbook’s complexity and rigidity. Among the symptoms he included in this parody were “important social or occupational activities that are given up or reduced because of the internet use”, “fantasies or dreams about the internet” and “voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers”. (Wallis, 2016).

Goldberg himself has redefined Internet Addiction Disorder as a “pathological Internet use disorder” (also known as PIU) to avoid what he started as a joke to be thought of as an officially diagnosed addiction, such as an addiction to heroin. Goldberg mentioned that to receive medical attention or support for every behavior by putting it in to psychiatric nomenclature is ridiculous. Goldberg added if every overdone behavior can be an addiction that would lead us to have support groups for individuals that consistently cough or are addicted to books (Wallis & David, 2016). He took pathological gambling, as diagnosed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), as his model for the description of IAD. (Internet Addictive Disorder (IAD) Diagnostic Criteria, 2009) Internet Addiction Disorder receives coverage in the press, and the possible future classification of it as a psychological disorder continues to be debated and researched in the psychiatric community (Block, 2008). A systematic review of Pathological Internet Use literature identified the lack of standardization in the concept as a major impediment to advancing this area of study. (Moreno, 2011). “Other online habits such as reading, playing computer games, or watching very large numbers of Internet videos are troubling only to the extent that these activities interfere with normal life.  Internet Addiction Disorder is often divided into subtypes by activity, such as gaming; online social networking, (Masters, 2015); blogging; email; excessive, overwhelming, or inappropriate Internet pornography use; (Turel & Serenko, 2010), or Internet shopping (shopping addiction). (eBay Addiction, 2014) Opponents note that compulsive behaviors may not necessarily be addictive. (PsychCentral, 2018).

Internet addiction is a subset of a broader “technology addiction”. Widespread obsession with technology goes back at least to radio in the 1930s and television in the 1960s, but it has exploded in importance during the digital age (Rosen et al, 2012).  A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (2014) suggests that prevalence of Internet addiction varies considerably among countries and is inversely related to quality of life (Cheng & Li, 2014).

Shyness is the awkwardness or apprehension some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Unlike introverts, who feel energized by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don’t know how or can’t tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem. Stronger forms of shyness are usually referred to as social anxiety or social phobia. The primary defining characteristic of shyness is a largely ego-driven fear of what other people will think of a person’s behavior. This result in a person becoming scared of doing or saying what they want to out of fear of negative reactions, being laughed at, humiliated or patronised, criticism or rejection. A shy person may simply opt to avoid social situations instead (Byun & colleagues, 2009).

One important aspect of shyness is social skills development. Schools and parents may implicitly assume children are fully capable of effective social interaction. 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. Teachers can model social skills and ask questions in a less direct and intimidating manner in order to gently encourage shy students to speak up in class, and make friends with other children (Byun & colleagues, 2009).

The initial cause of shyness varies. Scientists believe that they have located genetic data supporting the hypothesis that shyness is, at least, partially genetic. However, there is also evidence that suggests the environment in which a person is raised can also be responsible for their shyness. This includes child abuse, particularly emotional abuse such as ridicule. Shyness can originate after a person has experienced a physical anxiety reaction; at other times, shyness seems to develop first and then later causes physical symptoms of anxiety. Shyness differs from social anxiety, which is a broader, often depression -related psychological condition including the experience of fear, apprehension or worrying about being evaluated by others in social situations to the extent of inducing panic. Shyness may come from genetic traits, the environment in which a person is raised and personal experiences. Shyness may be a personality trait or can occur at certain stages of development in children.

The term shyness may be implemented as a lay blanket-term for a family of related and partially overlapping afflictions, including timidity (apprehension in meeting new people), bashfulness and diffidence (reluctance in asserting oneself), apprehension and anticipation (general fear of potential interaction), or intimidation (relating to the object of fear rather than one’s low confidence), (Dictionary.reference, 2018).

Apparent shyness, as perceived by others, may simply be the manifestation of reservation or introversion, character traits which cause an individual to voluntarily avoid excessive social contact or be terse in communication, but are not motivated or accompanied by discomfort, apprehension, or lack of confidence. Rather, according to professor of psychology Bernardo J. Carducci, introverts choose to avoid social situations because they derive no reward from them or may find surplus sensory input overwhelming, whereas shy people may fear such situations (Whitten, 2001).  Research using the statistical techniques of factor analysis and correlation has found shyness overlaps mildly with both introversion and neuroticism (i.e., negative emotionality) (Crazier, 1979; Heiser, Turner & Beidel 2003; Shiner & Caspi, 2003) Low societal acceptance of shyness or introversion may reinforce a shy or introverted individual’s low self-confidence (Cain, 2012).  Both shyness and introversion can outwardly manifest with socially withdrawn behaviors, such as tendencies to avoid social situations, especially when they are unfamiliar. A variety of research suggests that shyness and introversion possess clearly distinct motivational forces and lead to uniquely different personal and peer reactions and therefore cannot be described as theoretically the same, (Coplan, Rose-Krasnor, Weeks, Kingsbury, Kingsbury & Bullock, 2012;  Asendorpf  & Meier 1993; Chen,Wang & Cao, 2011;  Susan, 2012) further discerning introversion as involving being differently social (preferring one-on-one or small group interactions) rather than being anti -social altogether (Cornish, 2012).

Research suggests that no unique physiological response, such as an increased heart- beat, accompanies socially withdrawn behavior in familiar compared with unfamiliar social situations. But unsociability leads to decreased exposure to unfamiliar social situations and shyness causes a lack of response in such situations, suggesting that shyness and unsociability affect two different aspects of sociability and are distinct personality traits (Susan, 2012).  In addition, different cultures perceive unsociability and shyness in different ways, leading to either positive or negative individual feelings of self-esteem. Collectivist cultures view shyness as a more positive trait related to compliance with group ideals and self-control, while perceiving chosen isolation (introverted behavior) negatively as a threat to group harmony; and because collectivist society accepts shyness and rejects unsociability, shy individuals develop higher self-esteem than introverted individuals (Chen, Wang & Cao, 2011).  On the other hand, individualistic cultures perceive shyness as a weakness and a character flaw, while unsociable personality traits (preference to spend time alone) are accepted because they uphold the value of autonomy; accordingly, shy individuals tend to develop low self-esteem in Western cultures while unsociable individuals develop high self-esteem (Coplan, Rose-Krasnor, Weeks, Kingsbury, Kingsbury & Bullock, 2012).

Those considered shy are also said to be socially inhibited. Social inhibition is the conscious or unconscious constraint by a person of behavior of a social nature. In other words, social inhibition is holding back for social reasons. There are different levels of social inhibition, from mild to severe. Being socially inhibited is good when preventing one from harming another and bad when causing one to refrain from participating in class discussions.

Behavioral inhibition is a temperament or personality style that predisposes a person to become fearful, distressed and withdrawn in novel situations. This personality style is associated with the development of anxiety disorders in adulthood, particularly social anxiety disorder (Ordoñez-Ortega, Espinosa-Fernandez, Garcia-Lopez & Muela-Martinez, 2013).  So due to these assumptions secondary school student that are shy is predicted to be a predictor of Internet addiction.

The concept of Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. An individual with body dysmorphic disorder is overly preoccupied with what are perceived as gross imperfections in their appearance and spends an hour or more, every day, thinking about the way they look. In reality, the imperfections are imagined or only slight and barely noticed by others, if at all. The affected person may be obsessed with certain body parts, particularly related to their face or head, or with their weight or body shape.

The symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder often begin in the early teens or even childhood, and are all related to the person’s appearance. They include constantly checking their look in the mirror, excessive grooming, over-exercising, skin picking, or hair plucking—and comparing themselves to others. In addition to an extreme obsession with their looks, people with body dysmorphic disorder try to hide their perceived flaws by holding their body in certain ways, covering up with make-up or clothing, or somehow improving their imagined defects, sometimes with multiple plastic surgeries or other cosmetic practices. Even when steps are taken to make improvements, however, the person is still unhappy with their appearance. Many predictors of internet addiction disorder are discovered by many researchers, however this research would be considering if shyness and body dysmorphism has an influence on internet addiction among secondary school students.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Over the years, internet addiction has caused great threat to the society especially among undergraduates. It results in personal, family, academic, financial, and occupational problems that are characteristic of other addictions. Impairments of real life relationships are disrupted as a result of excessive use of the Internet. Studies conducted on the students show that internet addiction has been accompanied by major problems such as the educational drop, reduced the curriculum study, anxiety, reduced interpersonal relationships, reduced physical activities, irregularity, and nutritional diseases (Maheri, Joveini, Bahrami, Sadeghi, 2013, Sepehrian & Joka, 2011) Also it has been shown that internet addiction may have serious consequences such as changing the lifestyle in order to spend more time on the internet, ignoring the individual health and main activities, reducing the social relationships, ignoring the family and friends, and finally, financial, educational, and physical problems (Ahmadi, Zadeh, Mohammadi, Masoum-beigi & Sohrabi, 2012).

The obsession, repetitive behavior, and constant covering up create stress for the affected individual and can have a negative impact on daily functioning and quality of life. Major depression is common in those with body dysmorphic disorder, as are suicidal thoughts and behavior. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder often have a history of child abuse or neglect or other childhood trauma and may also have a parent or sibling with an anxiety disorder. Research into a neurobiological connection is still in early stages. Those with the condition may also have an anxiety disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or social anxiety, a personality disorder, or issues with substance abuse. Body dysmorphic disorder is not an eating disorder, though both conditions exhibit similarly severe and abnormal body image concerns and self-esteem issues. Men and women are equally affected by this disorder. So due to the fact these people saw themselves inappropriate this study would predict that internet may be the only place they derived happiness and gain acceptance.

This study therefore tries to examine the influence of shyness and body dysmorphism on internet addiction.

1.3 Research Questions

However, following this lime light the following questions would be used to ascertain if shyness and body dysmorphism have influence on internet addiction among secondary school students.

  1. What is meant by Internet Addiction?
  2. How can internet addiction and shyness be assessed?
  3. Does shyness and body dysmorphism have any influence on internet addiction?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine the influence of shyness and body dysmorphism on internet addiction.

The following are the specific objectives of the study;

  1. To examine what internet addiction is.
  2. To assess internet addiction and shyness.
  3. To find out if shyness and body dysmorphism have any influence on internet addiction.

1.5 Hypothesis of the Study

H1: The higher the level of shyness, the more likely one tends to be addicted to the internet.

H2: Secondary school students have a tendency to be more publicly withdrawn than primary or secondary students; therefore shyness will have a more prominent influence on their internet habits.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study attempts to prove the existence of internet addiction or shyness, but rather the correlation between the two. There have been many papers published about Internet Addiction (Hughes, Johansson & Gotestam, Tsai& Lin, 2017). The findings of this study will help in understanding the internet addiction among students. By knowing the prevalence of internet addiction and shyness among student, one can understand influence of shyness among students internet addiction behaviour. This study can provide valuable information for prevalence of internet addiction and shyness. The research findings also will be helpful for future researches on internet addiction and shyness. This study also explores the correlation between internet addiction and shyness. This study will also be of benefits to researchers and academicians carrying out research related to this study.

1.7 Definition of Terms


The internet is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.


Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.

Internet Addiction:

Internet addiction is an umbrella term that refers to the compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on the Internet, to the point where relationships, work and health are allowed to suffer. Medical opinion is divided on whether Internet addiction exists as a mental disorder in its own right.


Shyness is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is around other people. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem.

Body Dysphormism:

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one’s own body part or appearance is severely flawed and therefore warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix one’s dysmorphic part on one’s figure.

1.8 Organization of Study

The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

In conclusion, the analysis of the results have shown that shyness is a contributing factor to the Internet abuse in secondary school students, unlike the undergraduates, which Internet time contributed to Internet Addiction.
Although this study has shown some significant relationships between Internet Addiction and Shyness in secondary school students and time with undergraduates, it does have its limitations. The data was collected over a very short period of time and the questionnaire does have its restrictions. To seriously consider the results of this study, it is also important to believe that Young’s Addiction scale and the Cheek Buss shyness scale are accurate ways of measuring Internet Addiction and shyness. In the case of the secondary school, the amount of students that completed the questionnaire is not an adequate number for a sample and generalizations cannot be made.

The outcomes of this study are however quite significant. If it is possible to use shyness as a predictor of Internet Addiction, it would be much easier to identify students with an Internet Addiction problem. The results of this study demonstrate the need for further investigation. If shyness in secondary school students does influence Internet Addiction, then what will be the consequences on their social and emotional growth? This question also needs to be answered.

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