From Shyness to Social Anxiety: Understanding Solitude in the Context of Immigration


Social Anxiety, Immigration, solitude


There is an increasing interest in understanding individual differences in solitude and related psychological experiences such as shyness and social anxiety among immigrants and children of immigrants. However, limited attention has been paid to how beliefs and attitudes of members of the hosting society may shape solitude among immigrants in intergroup contexts. In this chapter we propose that an understanding of solitude and its various forms among immigrants should take into account social position factors and intergroup processes that reflect how immigrants are being perceived and treated by members of the majority group in the host society. These include the social categorization of immigrants, biases and stereotypes associated with foreign languages and accents, experiences of acculturation, perpetual foreigner stereotypes, and intergroup anxiety between immigrant and nonimmigrant groups. Doing so will provide a more contextually relevant approach for understanding the experiences of immigrant children and families and can inform future research and practices to address issues of solitude in these populations.

Original Publication Citation

Xu, Y. Cheah, C.S.L. Hart, C.H., *Seo Y.J. (2021). From shyness to social anxiety: Understanding solitude in the context of immigration. In R.J Coplan, J.C. Bowker, & L.J. Nelson (Eds.), The Handbook of solitude: Psychological perspectives on social isolation, social withdrawal, and being alone (2nd Ed), (pp. 294 to 307). UK: Wiley/Blackwell Publishers.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



John Wiley & Sons, Ltd




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor