Psychology Prof. Bernie Carducci to uncork secrets of successful small talk at Social Sciences on Tap

10th January 2017

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—The holiday season is an incredibly social time, and that makes it a busy time for Prof. Bernardo “Bernie” Carducci, whose research focuses on the psychological and social mechanisms of shyness—and ways to deal effectively with it in order to live a more socially engaged life.

The professor of psychology and director of the IU Southeast Shyness Research Institute was featured in a recent Cosmopolitan spotlight, an interview on the Huffington Post website, an article in the Globe and Mail and a podcast for the American Psychological Association.

Carducci and his work will also be the focus of the Social Sciences On Tap event on Thurs., Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. at the New Albanian Brewing Company Café & Brewhouse in New Albany.

The event is titled “The ‘Formula’ for Making Successful Small Talk: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Connect, Not Just Converse, with Others.”

The presentation will provide an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to the art of making successful conversation, which Carducci considers a useful first step in overcoming the isolation often experienced by individuals with shyness.

This winter’s flurry of media interest is nothing new for Carducci, who has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and other national and international media, including the BBC, while his writings have been featured in Psychology Today, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Vogue, among many others.

While respected for his academic work—he is the author of eight books and countless scholarly articles, and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and past president of the Council of Teachers of Undergraduate Psychology, as well as a recipient of two IU Southeast Distinguished Research and Creativity Awards–Carducci values mass-market exposure.

“It’s important to share this work with a diverse audience outside of academia,” Carducci said. “You have to do the work, and be academically credible, but you also need to demonstrate the utility of the information, in order to help people deal more effectively with their experience of shyness.”

According to Carducci’s research, some 43% of the population self-identifies as shy, an increase of almost 4% over the past 30 years. Carducci attributes this trend in large part to the pervasiveness of digital media that has contributed to and accelerated what he calls “identity intensity,” the growing tendency of people to self-segregate into like-minded social enclaves.

He sees an even greater need for tools to reduce social isolation.

“We have a tendency to trivialize small talk, but it is really important,” Carducci said. “I see it as the cornerstone of civility.”

This ability to provide accessible and workable tools to enable shy people to handle everyday situations with confidence and self-assurance, while also producing data and analysis of the larger implications of social isolation, makes the Shyness Research Institute unique.

Carducci’s approach, whether working with the adults or today’s digital natives, is to foster a greater understanding of the nature and dynamics of shyness, so that people whose lives are affected can be “successfully shy.”

“We want to help them control their shyness, so their shyness doesn’t control them,” Carducci said. “That’s what it means to be ‘successfully shy.’”

Homepage photo: Dr. Bernardo Carducci.

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