Shyness and boldness in humans and other animals

David Sloan Wilson, Anne B. Clark, Kristine Coleman, Ted Dearstyne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    704 Scopus citations


    The shy-bold continuum is a fundamental axis of behavioral variation in humans and at least some other species, but its taxonomic distribution and evolutionary implications are unknown. Models of optimal risk, density- or frequency-dependent selection, and phenotypic plasticity can provide a theoretical framework for understanding shyness and boldness as a product of natural selection. We sketch this framework and review the few empirical studies of shyness and boldness in natural populations. The study of shyness and boldness adds an interesting new dimension to behavioral ecology by focusing on the nature of continuous behavioral variation that exists within the familiar categories of age, sex and size.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)442-446
    Number of pages5
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Nov 1994

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Shyness and boldness in humans and other animals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this