Does antisocial mean shy? (3 differences)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Does antisocial mean shy?” and explore the concepts of antisocial and shy behaviour and the similarities and differences between them to help understand the answer. 

Does antisocial mean shy?

No, antisocial does not always imply shyness. However, the two might be considered to be linked to a degree.

The terms ‘antisocial’ and ‘shy’ differ in the following ways – 

  • Being antisocial is a disorder, being shy is not. 
  • Antisocial behaviour has more severe and long-lasting physical and emotional manifestations than shyness.
  • Shyness is more common than antisocial behaviour. 

What are the differences between the terms ‘antisocial’ and ‘shy’? 

Being antisocial is a disorder, being shy is not. 

Shyness is a dread of others’ judgement and all-around social criticism, especially when first meeting someone. 

The term “anti-social” is often used to describe social anxiety disorder, which is characterised by an excessive dread of being examined in social circumstances. 

Antisocial behaviour has more severe and long-lasting physical and emotional manifestations than shyness.

Shyness is accompanied by unpleasant sentiments about oneself as well as bodily manifestations such as flushing, sweating, a racing heart, and an unsettled stomach. 

People with social anxiety disorder dread social gatherings in the weeks leading up to them are extremely self-conscious and exhibit bodily symptoms such as shaking, sweating, and nausea. 

A social anxiety disorder stemming from being antisocial may take over one’s life and frequently coexists with other anxiety disorders and despair.

Shyness is more common than antisocial behaviour. 

In truth, we all suffer from shyness at some point in our lives. Someone who is shy may desire to connect with people but find it difficult to do so, whereas introverts prefer to spend time alone and to themselves.

Asking someone for directions, dining at a restaurant, reading a piece aloud in class, eating in public, and other seemingly insignificant tasks are enormous for persons suffering from a social anxiety disorder. 

What is antisocial behaviour?

Anti-social behaviours are activities that cause harm to others or show a lack of concern for their well-being. It has also been described as any sort of behaviour that infringes on another person’s basic rights, as well as any behaviour that is considered disruptive to others in society. 

This can be done in a variety of ways, including but not limited to purposeful aggressiveness, covert and overt animosity, and so on. Social engagement within the family and community can sometimes lead to antisocial behaviour. 

It has a long-term impact on a child’s temperament, cognitive capacity, and interaction with bad peers, and has a significant impact on children’s cooperative problem-solving abilities. 

Anti-social behaviour is also a term used by many individuals to describe behaviour that is perceived to be counter to societal norms. 

Researchers have remarked, however, that it is a difficult concept to define, particularly in the United Kingdom, where numerous activities fall within this category.  The phrase is particularly popular in British English.

Although the phrase is relatively new to the popular vernacular, anti-social behaviour has been characterised as “unwanted behaviour as a result of personality disorder” in the psychological realm for many years. 

For example, according to David Farrington, a British criminologist and forensic psychologist, teens might display anti-social behaviour by indulging in a variety of wrongdoings such as theft, vandalism, sexual promiscuity, excessive smoking, heavy drinking, parent disputes, and gambling.

Anti-social behaviour is frequently linked to other behavioural and developmental difficulties such as impulsivity, ADHD, depression, and learning impairments. 

Along with these challenges, one’s genetics, neurobiology, and environmental stresses throughout the prenatal stage of life, as well as early childhood years, might predispose or encourage the development of such behaviour.

In its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association defines persistent antisocial behaviour as an antisocial personality disorder. 

Neurobiological risk factors include maternal drug use during pregnancy, delivery problems, low birth weight, prenatal brain damage, traumatic head injury, and chronic disease, whereas genetic variables include anomalies in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. 

The World Health Organization classifies it as a dissocial personality disorder in the International Classification of Diseases. Children and adolescents with conduct disorders, such as conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder as defined by the DSM-5, may exhibit a pattern of persistent anti-social behaviour. 

It has been reported that people with intellectual impairments are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour, however, this might be due to social isolation and mental health issues. On this subject, more investigation is needed.

What is shyness?

Shyness (also known as diffidence) is a sensation of trepidation, unease, or discomfort that occurs when a person is in the presence of others. This is most frequent in new circumstances or with strange individuals, and a shy person may just ignore them. 

Although shyness can be a sign of poor self-esteem, the fundamental distinguishing feature of shyness is a worry about what others will think of one’s actions. 

A shy person may withdraw due to their fear of negative reactions such as being laughed at, humiliated or patronised, reprimanded or rejected. Social anxiety or social phobia are terms used to describe more severe kinds of shyness.

Shyness can have a variety of causes. Scientists believe they have discovered genetic evidence that suggests shyness is at least partially inherited. There is, however, evidence that the environment in which a person is reared might also play a role in their shyness. 

This involves child maltreatment, especially emotional maltreatment such as mocking. Shyness can emerge after a person has had a physical anxiety reaction; other times, shyness appears to develop first, followed by physical anxiety symptoms. 

Shyness is not the same as social anxiety, which is a larger, frequently depression-related psychiatric disorder characterised by dread, trepidation, or worry about how others will judge you in social circumstances to the point of panic.

Shyness can stem from a variety of factors, including genetics, upbringing, and personal experiences. Shyness in children can be a personality feature or it can appear at different phases of development.

Shyness is most likely to arise in unexpected settings, but in severe cases, it can even interfere with an individual’s most familiar situations and relationships. 

To avoid feeling uncomfortable and inadequate, shy people avoid the objects of their concern; as a result, the circumstances stay unknown, and the shyness persists.

Shyness can disappear with time; for example, a youngster who is timid around strangers may lose this feature as he or she grows older and becomes more socially skilled. This usually happens throughout adolescence or early adulthood (generally around the age of 13). 

However, in certain circumstances, it may develop into a lifelong character feature. Longitudinal evidence reveals that the three personality types identified in childhood — easy, slow-to-warm-up, and tough – alter as children grow older.  Extreme qualities fade away with time, and personalities develop in regular patterns. 

The inclination to internalise or externalise difficulties has been proved to be continuous. Individuals with shy personalities are more likely to internalise their difficulties or dwell on them internally instead of articulating their worries, which can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. 

Shyness affects people in different ways and in different areas. Shyness can also be a factor in academic success. There is a link between shyness and poor performance in the classroom, according to research. Individuals’ classroom performance was observed to decline as their shyness grew.

Shyness may range from the discomfort of not knowing what to say in social circumstances to devastating physical indications of discomfort. 

Shyness is frequently a mix of both symptoms, and it may be quite debilitating for the person, causing them to believe they are dull or engaging in unusual conduct in an attempt to attract attention, further alienating them. 

For a timid individual, social behaviours such as smiling, quickly developing appropriate discussion subjects, adopting a comfortable posture, and making excellent eye contact may not come naturally. Such persons may only be able to show such characteristics with significant difficulty, if at all.

In societies that encourage sociability, shy people are seen poorly because of how they interact with others. Shy people tend to seem distant during interactions, which can lead to others creating negative opinions of them and labelling them as aloof or snobby. 

People who are not shy may approach shy people with openness, aggression, or criticism in an attempt to “break them out of their shells.” 

Even if an attempt to pull out a shy person is made in a friendly and well-intentioned manner, the exercise may backfire since it enhances the individual’s self-consciousness and sense of discomfort by concentrating attention on them.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Does antisocial mean shy?” and reviewed the concepts of antisocial and shy behaviour and the similarities and differences between them to help determine if antisocial means shy. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Antisocial. (2022). Retrieved from,%3B%20threatening%3A%20an%20antisocial%20act.

What’s the difference between shy, antisocial, and introvert? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from

What is the border between being shy and having antisocial personality disorder? Reddit. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Seymour, S. Stop Mistaking Us Introverts for Being Shy and Anti-Social. (2017, February 27). Retrieved from

Bainbridge, C. The Difference Between Being Shy and Being Introverted. (2021, February 2). Retrieved from

Antisocial. Merriam-Webster. (2022). Retrieved from

Keating, S. The science behind why some of us are shy. BBC. (2019, June 5). Retrieved from

Wakefield, K. Are you an introvert or are you antisocial? (2016, April 12). Retrieved from

Leave a Comment