Media releases

  • Children’s shyness can be rooted in temperament or experienced as an emotion, says Brock researcher

    MEDIA RELEASE: May 10 2023 – R0037

    Having to recite a speech in front of a crowd may send some people into a sweaty, trembling tizzy — and children are no exception.

    Curious about the cause, Kristie Poole has explored whether the butterflies experienced by children are due to a shy personality or just the reaction to a situation perceived to be stressful.

    In a recently published study, the Brock University Banting Postdoctoral Fellow found that a small subset of children experiencing fear and nervousness while giving a presentation are shy by nature.

    “This study provides support for the idea that shyness can be viewed as a temperamental trait or part of your disposition as well as an emotional state in certain social situations,” Poole says.

    For the study, titled “Latent profiles of children’s shyness: Behavioral, affective, and physiological components,” Poole and her research team recruited 152 Canadian children ages seven to eight and their primary caregivers.

    The children were asked to give a two-minute speech in front of a video camera and, in an attempt to induce the type of stress associated with shyness, were told other children would watch their video.

    As the children delivered their speeches, an electrocardiogram measured their autonomic nervous system activity and the researchers coded shy-related behaviours such as gaze aversion. The children also self-reported their feelings of nervousness in response to the speech task.

    Primary caregivers filled out questionnaires about their child’s temperament during the child’s visit to the laboratory and then repeated the questionnaire one year later and again two years later.

    The research team found that about 25 per cent of the children in the study reported feeling nervous while delivering their speeches, yet they didn’t exhibit behaviours related to shyness or have physiological indications of anxiety or stress.

    A further 10 per cent who reported feeling nervous also exhibited behaviours and physiological indicators related to shyness. These children were also rated by their caregivers as having shy personalities across time.

    “For the smaller subset of about 10 per cent of the children, their shyness can be perceived as being part of their temperament or personality that is relatively consistent across development, whereas for the other subset of about 25 percent, shyness can be experienced as an emotion or as a state during certain social situations,” says Poole.

    For children with a temperament characterized by shyness, it is likely they experienced shyness earlier in development beginning in toddlerhood, she says.

    Previous research has found people who are temperamentally shy as children are at risk of experiencing heightened anxiety, “so it’s something to keep an eye on if shyness is interfering greatly with a child’s psychosocial functioning,” says Poole.

    But she stresses that many children who act shy in social situations “do have a positive developmental trajectory and grow up to be adaptive adults without psychological problems,” she says.

    The study recommends that future research focus on how ‘temperamental shyness,’ or shyness as a personality trait, and situational shyness, or ‘state shyness,’ impacts children’s social, psychological and academic adjustment.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock experts weigh in on potential ban on celebrity gambling ads

    EXPERT ADVISORY: May 4 2023 – R0036

    As Ontario considers banning famous faces from gambling ads, Brock University experts are sharing insight on the influence of celebrity endorsements, particularly among youth.

    Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology Antonia Mantonakis says “valid concerns” have led to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) exploring the potential ban, which would prevent celebrities from promoting the province’s sports betting websites and online casinos.

    The younger the consumer, the bigger the sway celebrities may potentially have, says Mantonakis, whose research focuses on consumer psychology and the role of celebrity sponsorships.

    “There’s a big difference between an adult who chooses to spend time gambling based on their own experiences, knowledge and understanding of themselves as a consumer, as opposed to someone younger without those life experiences,” she says. “Youth are still trying to figure out their identity and preferences, making them more susceptible to influence. And they may be looking to celebrities to provide that influence.”

    It’s not only the age of the consumer, but also the age of the celebrity ambassador that can have a significant impact on the level of influence, Mantonakis says.

    “The younger you go when choosing a celebrity endorser, the more it seems you’re targeting younger consumers,” she says. “When an ad with (Edmonton Oilers Captain) Connor McDavid pops up promoting a gambling site, there are a lot of younger aspiring hockey players who are looking up to someone like that. You have to question the ethics and why that person was chosen.”

    Youth who have no knowledge of online gambling may be encouraged to seek out more information based simply on seeing a familiar celebrity promoting a website or app, Mantonakis says, adding the shift from in-person to online gambling has created more access than ever before.

    Michael Naraine, Associate Professor of Sport Management, says celebrity endorsements play a significant role in the saturated market that is online gambling, especially where sports betting is concerned.

    “In a hypercompetitive marketplace where customer acquisition is so important to extracting long-term value from consumers, using endorsers to amplify products and services can impact someone on the fence from one ecosystem to another,” he says.

    Younger sports fans, he adds, are particularly susceptible to advertising and promotion.

    “When they watch sporting events and are exposed to ads suggesting there’s a good bet to make because of shifting odds, there is a stimulus added, and those under 19 might want to start placing bets, whether through their parents or illegally through grey/black market means,” Naraine says.

    To help address this, he believes the AGCO should be doing more work to fund research and education.

    “They are making decisions now based upon public reactions and will likely temper their stance with consultation with gambling operators in the next month or so,” says Naraine, calling the ban under consideration a “reactionary instead of proactive” move.

    “The Alberta government has been funding arms-length research on sports gambling for more than a decade, and Ontario has not taken these crucial steps to know the true, realized impact of advertising, consumer behaviour and outcomes such as addictions and harms.”

    Brock University Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology Antonia Mantonakis and Associate Professor of Sport Management Michael Naraine are available for media interviews on the topic.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases