What if the shyness drug boosts confidence?

Under one scenario, the shy become more extroverted and everyone enjoys their new bon mots and witty asides.  Gains from trade increase all around.  Under another scenario, shyness and extroversion are part of a larger positional game.  Some people take the anti-shyness drug, but the previous extroverts, facing new competition for sex and friends, become even more extroverted, thus feeling more strain.  Many of them start taking the drug to stay ahead.  The previously shy exhibit more "juice," so to speak, but without much net result in terms of an improved life since they are still coming in second, so to speak.  And those who don’t take the anti-shyness drug are even worse off than before, given the new and higher standard for extroversion.

Some of the remaining shy, however, might in fact feel relieved.  If the new standard of extroversion rises so high that they can’t possibly meet it, they might, to some extent, withdraw from social competition.  The truly shy might even form social clubs and band together in the interests of promoting shyness.  If they can signal that they do not take the drug, their shyness might become more socially acceptable than before.


This seems to be assuming that the opposite of "shyness" is "extroversion". I don't buy that. The opposite of extroversion is introversion; shyness can adhere, or not, to both.

Presumably this proposition depends on sex/popularity and extroversion having a linear
relationship. This makes sense at the lower ends of the scale, where the decision to
actually open your mouth makes a big impact on whether you befriend someone. But at higher
levels of extroversion, it may reduce your popularity as people mistrust or misplace your
confidence for egotism etc.

As an aside isn't there already a drug (illegal as it is) which reduces shyness. And which
has the properties I describe above - ie that you go too far onto the downward slope of the

"i'm starting to think that i'm kind of shy or at least i'd like to be..."
-Pedro the Lion

Yeah, "Hope for freaks." Do people actually think this way beyond the government education system? Do they just suppress their thoughts better?

So...I'm usually not a fan of rounding up people and shooting them, but I could be persuaded. Lefties and shy-guys unite?

A drug for shyness has been out for years. It really peaked in the 80's.

Then there will be more sex and HIV infection rates will go down.

This analysis assumes a Kantian morality, in which we define the good, and then determine that the more of it we have, the better we are.

If you have a more Aristotelean view, then you will realize that shyness and extroversion are merely two character flaws that meet at the golden mean of pleasant friendliness.

If you consider "extroversion" as a form of "spending capital," then you know that there is a miser at one extreme and a spendthrift on the other.

Of course this assumes that only men are "shy". If we assume that shyness is equally distributed between men and women, and all take the drug then everyone is happy.
Of course it's probably likely that men, classically required to initiate, suffer more from shyness than women, and even if it is equally distributed, more men "suffer" from their shyness than the equivalent women.

Is there something particular to shyness in this analysis? Or could it refer just as well to anything that makes someone more attractive to others, such as good manners, stylish attire, cologne, breast implants...?

I'm not dismissing Tyler's analysis, just trying to boil it down to its essence. Are we merely discussing a costly arms race, as Jay suggests?

I agree with commenters who say that cocaine (and to a lesser extent, alcohol) is more than adequate in combatting shyness.

And I also agree with those who think that the real breakthrough would be a drug that induced more introversion. I swear I don't mean to be loud and chatty, but I just can't help it!

"The more the drug boosts confidence, the more valuable lack of confidence becomes (assuming, as I do, that lack of confidence has a valuable social purpose)."

Yes, but it's an arms race. The same is true for money and beauty and many other things. The point isn't to have a lot but to have more than others. But given the enormous advantage that outgoing confident resilient people have in the modern sale-oriented economy, there will surely be temptations to use such a drug.

"The people who are shy now are shy for different reasons than the people who were shy a generation ago, much less 100 years ago."

How do you figure that? Shyness is biological, no less than sexual preference. It's not something people learn. There have always been shy people just like there have always been gay people.

he truly shy might even form social clubs and band together in the interests of promoting shyness.

...or, they could petition to immigrate to japan :-)

Have you ever been to a bar? There's a lot of anti-shyness and lower inhibitions showing how social interaction works there.

The shy will form associations other than on blogs?

Ooops - I meant the last sentence to read:
I can imagine a world where people with limited social skills all of a sudden start blurting out the intimate details of their lives, and it ain't pretty and it probably WOULDN'T endear them to many people. Which is the ultimate goal here, isn't it?

I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding running through this whole discussion; only the first commenter hits on the issue. Introversion or extroversion have little to do with shyness. There also seems to be an assumption that more social interaction is an unquestionable a good thing (Rich B touches on this).

Extroverts enjoy, seek out and feel energised by social interaction; introverts are the opposite they enjoy solitary activities. Shyness is fear of social interaction. Neither introversion or extroversion are problems in any way at all. And for introverted people more social interaction is definitely not necessarily a good thing.

Shyness is however a problem. A shy individual will avoid social situations out of fear. They won't go to parties, avoid going on dates, have real difficulties approaching colleagues to discuss work. It can create very real problems for people who suffer from it; they will not do things that they really want to do because they are stopped by fear.

A drug to reduce shyness will not turn an introvert into an extrovert or make an extrovert more extroverted. And that is a good thing. I am introverted and have absolutely no desire to become extroverted. Extroverts are good fun at parties but they are hell if you happen to sit next to one on public transport ("What book are you reading?" - "F%^£ OFF!"). They are also highly demanding friends and seem to believe simultaneously that you can be best friends after 3 minutes but if you don't speak to them for three months you're no longer friends. I could never have a really close relationship with an extrovert. I am also shy, and have a chronic social anxiety stemming from an incident of sexual abuse. The general shyness I can cope with but the chronic social anxiety has had a very debilitating effect on my life. If I could reduce my the social anxiety without any (or at least many) side effects then that would be a huge improvement in my life.

There is no arms race. Extroverts are not better or more sexually or socially attractive than introverts. Shyness is a fear of social interactions and it prevents people from doing things they really want to do; reducing it is unquestionably a good thing, but that won't affect anyone's position on the introvert/extrovert scale.

Nah. Diminishing Returns would set in at the Obnoxious Tool Limit - where you don't get any more sex or friends.

I don't necessarily agree with Robert Scarth's distinction between introversion and shyness, but he does correctly point out that the problem is not social interaction in the partying and dating sense. I can do without as many friends as "normal" people, but it would be nice if I wasn't quite as averse to calling and ordering a pizza simply because it involves talking to an unfamiliar person.

I doubt it would work, extroverts probably alady attain high levels of the hormone easily.

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