Name: Will Hipson

Area of Study: Developmental

In what program are you currently enrolled?


What year of the program are you currently in?

2nd year

Citation in APA format

Hipson, W. E., Coplan, R. J., & Séguin, D. G. (2019). Active Emotion Regulation Mediates Links between Shyness and Social Adjustment in Preschool. Social Development, Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1111/sode.12372

Plain language abstract:

Our goal was to explore the links between shyness and emotion regulation in young children’s social adjustment. Previous research suggests that shy children have difficulty regulating negative emotions and that this may lead to problems interacting with peers. However, it is unclear which emotion regulation strategies are most involved in preschool children’s social adjustment. We hypothesized that shy children use fewer active regulation strategies (e.g., problem-solving), which would explain why they are at risk for social adjustment difficulties. We collected data from parents and teachers of 248 preschool children attending 32 childcare centres across Ottawa and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We found that shyness was negatively associated with active emotion regulation, which in turn, predicted more prosocial and fewer withdrawn behaviours. We also found that active emotion regulation is particularly important for shy boys’ social adjustment. These results expand our understanding of emotion regulation in shy children’s socio‐emotional development.

How did the idea for this research come about? 

Coming out of my Honours Thesis work, I was intrigued by research in children’s temperament – relatively stable patterns in emotional reactivity and regulation. This continued into my Masters where I focused more specifically on shyness. In general, the research suggests that shy children are more likely to have difficulties adjusting in preschool, but it was not clear why shyness led to these social difficulties. Therefore, in my research I delved into the psychological mechanisms linking shyness to these social difficulties. I was particularly interested in the emotional side of shyness – how shyness can be understood in terms of heightened fear and anxiety in social situations. I came across a small collection of articles supporting the idea shyness entails difficulties in regulating these negative emotions. However, I wasn’t satisfied with how emotion regulation had been measured in these studies. Previous work had completely ignored different kinds of emotion regulation strategies and focused on emotions that I believed to be less relevant to shyness, such as anger and disappointment. So, I set out to study a larger variety of emotion regulation strategies as potential mechanisms linking shyness to social adjustment in preschool.

How did you collect the data for this project? 

At the outset of this project, my supervisor, Robert Coplan, and I formed a collaboration with my Honour’s Thesis supervisor Daniel Séguin in Halifax. Together, we contacted over 50 childcare centres and preschools in Ottawa and Halifax, and eventually had 32 centres on board to participate. Then, with help from a number of hard-working undergraduate research assistants, we collected data on 248 preschool children. Most of the data was collected using questionnaires from parents and early childhood educators. Parents completed questionnaires regarding their child’s shyness and emotion regulation, while educators rated children’s adjustment at school (e.g., prosocial behaviour). We also interviewed a portion of children on their preference for spending time alone vs. playing with others. The interview data wasn’t reported in the current manuscript, but we are in the process of analyzing it for a separate manuscript. Overall, data collection was an exciting, stressful, and rewarding experience. I’m grateful that I got the chance to actively collect data for this project rather than just using archival data. Seeing a project from its inception to data collection to publication is a beautiful thing!

Was the journal you published in the first journal you submitted this paper to?


Why did you choose this journal?

Social Development is a highly reputable journal in developmental psychology and I read articles published in it regularly. The content and focus was certainly appropriate for this paper, so after receiving a rejection to the first journal we tried (which was Early Childhood Research Quarterly), we immediately set our sights on Social Development.

How many other journals did you submit this paper to before it landed in the journal that eventually published your work?


What was your revision experience?

This manuscript went through several revisions before it was eventually published in Social Development, but the revision experience was largely positive. The three reviewers and editor had encouraging comments throughout, but also paid extreme detail to the methodological and conceptual issues. There was a lingering concern about the measure used to assess emotion regulation strategies, which was relatively novel and hadn’t undergone extensive psychometric evaluation. Although we presented strong arguments in support of the measure, it remains one of the limitations of the study and I’m glad that the reviewers took care to ensure that it was addressed in the manuscript. Undoubtedly, the revision process resulted in a far superior manuscript compared to the original.

How many rounds of revision did you experience?


Did you need to collect new data to satisfy a reviewer?


How long did it take from first submission to acceptance? 

9 months

Was this paper conducted as part of your MA thesis?


Was this paper conducted as part of your PhD dissertation?


Was this research conducted with your supervisor?


If yes, provide his or her name

Dr. Robert J. Coplan

Was this research conducted with fellow graduate students in our program? 


Was this research conducted with researchers external to Carleton?


If yes, please provide names

Dr. Daniel G. Séguin (Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax)

For a copy of the pre-print, please click the PDF below:

Graduate Research Showcase – Will Hipson

To access the published version, please click the link below: