Shyness is a form of inhibition and discomfort in the presence of others (for a good overview, see Hopko et al., 2005). Shyness can be observed in children as young as 2 years old (Kagan et al., 1989), and there seems to be a clear biological basis for it (Kagan et al., 1988).

The McCroskey Shyness Scale is a short 14 item survey. There are a number of other shyness scales as well, such as the Cheek and Buss scale (1979).

Some of the questions are actually directly about shyness rather than about the underlying behaviour or feelings, such as "I am a shy person" and "More people are more shy than I am".

The interpretation of the actual scores are listed on The McCroskey’s website:

Your score should be between 14 and 20. Scores above 52 indicate a high level of shyness. Scores below 32 indicate a low level of shyness. Scores between 32 and 52 indicate a moderate level of shyness.

Run the demo

This scale can be used, but the McCroskey paper needs to be acknowledged and cited.


A simple survey with a scale item including some negatively scored items.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: agree
- Strongly Disagree
- Disagree
- Neutral
- Agree
- Strongly Agree

l: mss
t: scale agree
o: width 50%
q: Below are fourteen statements that people sometimes make about
themselves.<br>Please indicate whether or not you believe each statement applies to you by marking to what extend you disagree or agree.
- I am a shy person.
- {reverse} Other people think I talk a lot.
- {reverse} I am a very talkative person.
- Other people think I am shy.
- {reverse} I talk a lot.
- I tend to be very quiet in class.
- I don't talk much.
- {reverse} I talk more than most people.
- I am a quiet person.
- {reverse} I talk more in a small group (3-6) than others do.
- Most people talk more than I do.
- Other people think I am very quiet.
- {reverse} I talk more in class than most people do.
- {reverse} Most people are more shy than I am.

l: mss_score
t: set
- sum $mss

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your McCroskey Shyness Scale score is {$mss_score} points.<br>
Non-shy people score between 14 and 20 points.<br>
People with a high level of shyness have a score over 52 points.<br>
Scores below 32 points indicate a low level of shyness.<br>
Scores between 32 and 52 indicate a moderate level of shyness.


  • McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1982). Communication apprehension and shyness: Conceptual and operational distinctions. Central States Speech Journal, 33, 458-468.

  • Scale and scoring can be retrieved from McCroskey’s website.

  • Kagan, J., Reznick, J.S., Snidman, N. (1988). Biological basis of childhood shyness. Science, 240 (4849), 167-171

  • Kagan, J., Reznick, J.S., Gibbons, J. (1989). Inhibited and Uninhibited Types of Children. Child Development, 60, 838-845.

  • Cheek, J. and Buss, A.H. (1979). Scales of Shyness, Sociability, and Self-Esteem and Correlations Among Them, unpublished research report, University of Texas. Note: This report is often cited.

  • Hopko, D.R., Stowell, J., Jones, W.H., Armento, M.E.A. and Cheek, J.M. (2005). Journal of Personality Assessment, 84, 185-192.