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Shallow means not very deep. It can be quite advantageous, e.g. a shallow pool is safe for swimming and a shallow ore is easy to mine.

However, used metaphorically it is a derogative term used to describe people who are perceived to lack intellectual "depth". There is no standard definition of what constitutes "depth" in this sense, but usually an individual is considered deep if they seem to be interesting, original, creative, philosophical or intelligent. By contrast, somebody who appears superficial, naive, materialistic, petty, unimaginative or a conformist is likely to be denounced as being shallow, although simply lacking intelligence is not a criterion on its own.

Table of contents
1 The stereotypical shallow person in western societies
2 Behaviors that are considered shallow
3 Shallowness and age

The stereotypical shallow person in western societies

A person who is a heavy consumer of the media and marketing industries, tends to be gullible and easily-influenced, and lacks the cynicism and discernment that allows less "shallow" people to "see through" the advertisements and propaganda. He/she is more easily pleased than other people, commonly without significant intellectual stimulation, often content to read magazines about the lives of celebrities or watch television shows that many people would consider pointless and irrelevant.

Behaviors that are considered shallow

Shallow people typically embrace stereotyped social roles, especially gender roles. They usually place excessive value on the appearance of something, sometimes judging themselves and others entirely by their looks, which gives the impression of vanity and arrogance even though they may possess neither of these attributes.

Conversation with shallow people tends to remain on a very superficial level, often relating to the everyday details of their lives or the affairs of others; gossip is almost exclusively the domain of the shallow. This is not to suggest however that shallow people are malicious or vindictive; indeed they are often very positive and friendly in their outlook.

Shallowness and age

Young people are often stigmatized of being more shallow than other age groups. Some people argue that it is probably a consequence of the media: in which young people are expected and encouraged to lead shallow lives, in order that they will constitute a more pliable audience for exploitation by advertisers.

Shallowness is occasionally not genuine but an act performed by a person who is insecure or in need of attention.