Extroversion privilege

(This post has a definite US slant, simply because that’s the only country whose culture I’ve experienced firsthand.  I suspect it’s different elsewhere – feel free to comment.)

This all started from a comment made by DNi on my post, Personal Privilege List. I started thinking about it, then some stuff happened, then I thought some more, and then I reached a conclusion: yes, there is a definite privilege extended to extroverts for no good reason.

First, a definition session since people often use “introverted” to mean shy and “extroverted” to mean friendly.  It’s not that simple. Extroverts are people who need external stimulation from others.  Introverts are people who are stimulated by their own thoughts and ideas, and sometimes need to limit external input because they’ve got so much going on internally.

When I tell people I’m introverted or that I enjoy time alone, I tend to get a couple of negative responses.  The first is boredom, because I’m talking to an extrovert and my response to “what did you do this weekend?” isn’t providing them any external stimulation.  They have every right to find me dull.  Unfortunately, society takes it one step further, inviting them to judge me as lesser because I don’t provide the stimulation they want.  It’s considered normal that introverted kids who do well in school – “nerds” or “geeks” – should be bullied by extroverted jocks or popular girls.  It’s considered okay to promote a less qualified employee with a “better personality” (read “extrovert”).  And so on.

The other negative reaction I get is the assumption that I’m emotionally damaged, and that’s why I’m introverted.  This assumption rests on the assumption that everyone is naturally extroverted.  In fact, there’s data to indicate that extroverts and introverts may simply be wired differently; brain chemicals in introverts may simply be a lot more active than in extroverts.  They’re more often in output mode than input, while extroverts are the other way around.

Furthermore, while I agree that emotional damage can lead to introversion, in my observation it leads to extraversion even more often.  Ever met someone who can barely function without a romantic partner?  Will lie to people to maintain friendships just so they always have someone to hang out with?  Constantly steps on people to get with a “better” crowd?  These aren’t exactly functional examples of extraversion.  And what about functional introversion?  Introverts are less likely to engage in damaging relationships because they’re content to be alone.  They’re less likely to get bored and frustrated when there’s not much going on.  They’re not going to create drama just to get something going on.

As I see it, the world needs both kinds of people.  My theory on why extraversion is considered normal and introversion aberrant in the US is that introverts are independent thinkers, and that doesn’t make for good little consumers, obsessed with “keeping up with the Joneses”.  It doesn’t make for the preferred type of voter, either – one who puts candidate likability ahead of capability.  One who votes for what their friends or family vote for, instead of examining the issues.  Introverts are likely to notice those rather simple solutions you’ve been avoiding out of laziness or because your real motive has yet to be revealed.

And most offensive of all, introverts don’t want your approval badly enough to torture themselves to get it.

Comments

  1. scarlett says

    Ugh,

    I’m tired, it’s 0210 here, so I’ll try to get through this…

    Whenever I explain to people I love penpalling their look is usually one of WTF?? I love being able to sit down and write my thoughts to people I’ve never met. I find it theraputic, the element of hand to pen to paper.

    Why is it that I have to explain and explain and explain that I often prefer penpalling and blogging over ‘RL’ interactions. Why should it matter? Are you so insecure within yourself that you can’t stand me to be happy within my own self?

  2. Dragyn says

    Here is an interesting theory on why nerds get the shaft. http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html. The conclusion: get rid of compulsery schooling.

    I’m an introvert, and unfortunatly I doubt it is different elsewhere. Introverts are a minority (according to data from Myers-Briggs Personality Types, introverts are very much a minority (though to some degree, I also blame this on compulsory schooling to some degree: people have to learn and force themselves to be extroverted so that they aren’t teased/bullied.)

  3. says

    I spend a month in Europe when I was 15 (white upper middle class privilege) and it was a relief for me because Europe is a bit more introverted than North America (since extraverts are more likely to emigrate, everything else being equal, and since extraversion is heritable). The fellow Canadian students I was with were so much more brash in comparison. Mind you, there was a European student who felt so much more at home with the Canadians, so it worked both ways.

    In the last job I had, a bunch of us did a personality workshop (four colours), and at one point the moderator had all the extraverts on one side and all the introverts on the other, and we talked to each other about misunderstandings. The extraverts talked about how our not being friendly hurt their feelings. It was so kindergarten level it made me want to laugh, but I guess you need to start somewhere. The extraverts were serious – they didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t as friendly and outgoing as they were.

  4. Chahin says

    The first thing I’d like to comment on is your mentioning of how an extrovert would most likely get selected for a job promotion over an introvert. In the jobs where this happens, it is usually more often than not due to the requirements of the post that is being filled. One’s smarts (book or street) and capabilities are not all that are necessarily required to perform a certain job at maximum potential. This is not an example of life being unfair, this is just an example of how things work.

    There are, in fact, some positions that get filled by introverts due to their personality type too. However, maybe the more “flashy” jobs tend to go to the extroverts because a certain amount of “sociability” and “people skills” is required to properly meet all the expectations of said job. And given that the competence to do the job is there, it would make more sense to elect an “outgoing” personality to such a job. Although other jobs will more better be performed by those who perform best without social stimulus.

    I also do not fully agree with the presumption that people are either one or the other. Although I enjoyed this article and found myself agreeing with much of what you said, I think the divisions you drew up were a bit too black and white.

    In high school, I considered myself a bit of a nerd. I greatly enjoyed my math, sciences and history classes (and then writing class in senior year), and I could not seem to truly relate to any of the kids in my class. In fact my two best friends during my high school years were two guys who went to two different high schools. I played video games way too much and actually made many good friends in cyber cafes – most of whom were arguably “introvert nerds”. Almost of us, today, are socially well-adjusted and doing great in our careers.

    An even more stark example would be one of my good friends, Daniello. This guy can be left alone in a room to his own thoughts for days on end. Give him a video camera and remove all the clocks, and he could remain in that room for a year without complaint. When we (friends and I) all lived in Lebanon (high school/university days), we’d go for long stretches without seeing him cause he just wanted to stay home with himself. Although this is his character type, and he truly does not require external stimulus to get through life, he is newly married and is a very loved member of my close group of (a dozen or so) friends. He is also considered a genius in the advertising firm he works for (and has been extremely successful in his career). I’ve also never seen anyone tell a joke better than he can, and this is no exaggeration.

    My point is that just because someone seems to innately be an introvert, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that puts them at some kind of disadvantage. As for the sharks that step over others to get ahead (socially), those people just have a severe self-esteem problem and believe they have to be like that to prove their worth or value in society. In fact many of those types of people may have been loners (not by choice) or severely bullied during their younger years and are now just lashing out (I believe you touched on this in your article).

    I agree with most of the rest of what you said, especially the commentary on American society and the values that tend be promoted within it. I especially agreed with your point on how emotional damage can lead to extreme extraversion.

    Phew… This turned out to be a lot longer than expected!

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      No, I’m talking about jobs where, between two candidates, all other things are equal except one is an introvert and the other is not. People unconsciously read introversion in various bad ways: as snobbishness, a rejection of human company, not a team player, “chilly”, boring, “not someone you could go have a beer with”, or moody loners. Meanwhile, extroverts tend to be read as friendly, charming team players who promise to be fun to know and work with. We are all carefully trained by the culture to make these assumptions. I was an adult before I realized I often made them myself. Even when bosses see extroverts putting their dating life ahead of their job or something, they still feel so charmed to be in that sunny personality’s presence that they overlook how all his work is getting dumped on the introverts who get no benefit for it.

      I have not come across any jobs/positions where bosses recognized that introverts would be preferable. Would you give an example there? In my experience and in the experience of people I’ve talked to, when all other things are equal between two candidates, folks choose the extrovert.

      And that is NOT a case of “that’s just how it is” – that is a case of culture. This stratified society of ours is constructed for certain classes of people to utilize the talents of others and take all the credit (or, for certain classes to do wrong, then put all the blame on the other classes). It’s harder to suck introverts into being utilized, because they aren’t going to submit just for the pleasure of your fabulous company. Introverts will want more money, or more favors, or something tangible beyond Your Precious Friendship. Extroverts don’t see the exchange of friendship for hard work as unrewarding, so in a labor based culture, they come in much, much handier for those who are in a position to insist on getting more than they give. Introverts could buck that system, so there are barriers to their entry. While this probably all developed unconsciously, just people seeking out what worked for them, it does not defy rational analysis, it is cultural, and it can be changed. So no, not just “the way it is.”

  5. Chahin says

    If an extrovert will do a job for less than what an introvert may demand, then is it at all surprising that the extrovert will get hired? I don’t understand what you are arguing here. This has nothing to do with culture. It’s a no-brainer that if two candidates can perform the same job at an equally competent level, then the cheaper alternative gets hired!

    All I was saying however is that many jobs require people to be outgoing/friendly/whatever with others, or be good at faking it (like sales or other jobs that involve face-time with clients or coworkers on a regular basis). Yes, there probably are many times when a dimwitted manager will hire a guy only cause of his personality, but proper jobs tend to go to those most qualified and with all the characteristics a manager feels is required for a job to be executed with the most efficacy. If not, then that company that continuously hires the idiot with a nice smile will not be doing too well (especially in the long-run).

    As for jobs that an introvert would probably get picked for over an extrovert: software engineering jobs.

    I am not denying that being charming or hitting it off with the interviewer will score you extra points, but I can’t agree with your conclusion that an entire “class” of people is somehow being discriminated against.

    In fact, I find this clear black-and-white division of people to be extremely absurd, and even more so this suggestion that some great social injustice is being done to a certain segment of (presumably American) society because they don’t seem to be friendly enough.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    If an extrovert will do a job for less than what an introvert may demand, then is it at all surprising that the extrovert will get hired?

    No one said anything about a salary differential. I very clearly stated “No, I’m talking about jobs where, between two candidates, all other things are equal except one is an introvert and the other is not.” That was right at the top, where even the shortest of attention spans could have been expected to still be reading.

    Therefore you’re obviously just pulling straw men out of your ass now. You discredit any legitimate point you might have made with your attempts to derail me into supporting a point which I would never support.

    Go away and don’t bother commenting here again. It won’t get through moderation.

  7. Laura says

    I appreciate this article because I’ve faced rejection all my life because of my introversion. Americans treat introversion like a disease. Extroversion IS a privilege here. I’ve done some research on this subject and learned that introversion is actually preferred in certain other cultures. I found this fascinating, as it seemed that I was fatally flawed by American standards.

    I remember family, teachers and students alike making fun of me or singling me out for being “so quiet.” I have been excluded from or denied many opportunities because I wasn’t just like every extrovert. Extroverts have made a point of how flawed they consider me, to my face, mostly in patronizing “I want to help you” condescension. I can’t say how often I’ve been bullied or lectured about my introversion, but it has been frequent enough to influence my decisions about options for work.

    I know a lot of introverted people who make successes out of their lives. I don’t consider myself a failure, either. However, I think that being a constant target for bullying and abuse is something to be concerned about, and being an introvert certainly has put me in this position.

    I also really resent all those well-meaning extroverts who’ve made it their priority or who go out of their way to teach me the “right” way to act, how to be loud and aggressive just like they are, as if they’re doing me some sort of favor. It’s lonely to know that you aren’t flawed, but to have to face all these people constantly getting in your face about how they think you are flawed just because you’re quiet and prefer to be that way.

    Whenever I explain to the well-meaning extroverts that I’m content to be who I am, the way that I am, they get offended like I’ve just smacked them in the face. Extroverts alone don’t offend me. I actually love a lot of them. I don’t love their prejudice toward people like me. I don’t understand why they can’t have some respect or love for me, or for those of us who are introverts. I don’t want to be changed or pitied, I just want to be respected for being who I am, the way extroverts are respected for being who they are. It’s too much to ask of most Americans, most likely for the reasons you explained in your post. Thanks for the insight and the validation, not just on this issue, but on many. It’s an education.

  8. Staylor says

    I had a Psychology professor who mentioned many times in his class that introversion is no more than low self-esteem when it is broken down. Like many professors that I’ve had over the years, he liked to state opinion as fact even when ample evidence to the contrary exists. I never bothered to challenge him on his position, but if I had, I might have mentioned the following, based on my own personal experience:
    1.) Intorversion is not merely situational shyness, and while there are certainly plenty of introverts with low self-esteem, surely there are just as many extroverts with low self-esteem because low self-esteem is rampant in humans in my experience. Jennifer, you gave some great examples of this.
    2.) I am an introvert and I can also be loud and gregarious with people that I know, and/or when I’m in “party” mode. (I know how stupid that sounds, just didn’t know how else to put it.) I just know that my main mode of operation is more internal than external. It’s my day-to-day, fall-back mode.
    3.) I’m not afraid to talk to people because I’m afraid to be judged. I ask strangers for the time or for directions when I’m lost – but only after I’m certain I won’t figure it out on my own. I don’t seek out people to talk to just for the purpose of talking – just doesn’t occur to me.

    • says

      In grad school someone explained to me once about ‘gregarious Is’–as Jennifer pointed out in her post, ‘introvert’ just means ‘someone who draws energy from being alone and is worn out by being with others’ and extrovert is the opposite. I’m socially adept, have fun at parties, am not shy, am happy to talk to strangers, etc. etc.–but spending time with people wears me out. I have a job that involves a lot of communication, and I make sure I schedule at least one day a week that I can be completely alone. I used to teach, and loved it–but found it incredibly exhausting, and had to schedule entire weekends of being completely by myself just to get my energy back.

    • Kayle says

      Your professor is a moron. Reminds me of the kind of doctors who tell you you’re fine because “everything’s normal” when you’ve just spent the entire appointment telling them that how you are is radically different from how *you* normally are. Forest. Trees. Book or diploma in front of nose in front of forest of trees.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    Staylor, your professor is an embarrassment to his profession. Really, he’s ignorant enough to be writing self-help books and teaching 3 hour courses entitled “Change Your Life Completely And Forever In Three Hours For Just $299!” He simply could not be less informed about what he’s saying there.

    Even true “shyness” can have some cultural basis. I was brought up to be reserved because it’s not polite to push yourself on others. Not because I was afraid, or felt unliked. I also grew up seemingly surrounded by bullies, but I didn’t give a shit if they liked me or not because they were assholes and I judged them inferior to me in oh so many ways. So introversion can not only NOT be low self-esteem, it can also be about thinking yourself superior. I don’t think I’m superior to everyone, but to people who feel the need to be cruel to someone who’s just trying to keep to herself? Oh, certainly, I’m superior to them.

    “Party mode” is a term I use myself to express the exact same thing you’re talking about.

  10. Raeka says

    Wow. I’ve been thinking this for years. I’ve even talked to my dad a bit about it (he’s definitely an extrovert), but I don’t think he’s ever really seen it the same way as I have.

    That being said, I’m not sure I agree with the whole ‘politicians/corporations want extroverts because they’re less likely to call bullshit on them’. My opinion has always been that extraverts have an advantage in networking, which naturally leads to certain kinds of things: knowing about job opportunities, being hired for jobs because people know your face instead of merely being a resume, being hired for jobs because even if you can’t fake interest in the company (everyone’s had the ‘why do you want to work here?’ question, surely) you’re probably better at leaving a good impression on the interviewer, as –as has been discussed– a ‘friendly’ person. Moreover, if an extravert is doing the hiring, they’re naturally going to want someone who is willing to interact with them.

    Another point that I’ve always felt is that extraverts are able to use their time more efficiently than intraverts. Assuming a person is working full-time and has a circle of friends outside of work, extraverts can compress friend-time with destress-time, while intraverts have to balance alone-time with friend-time. In my experience as an intravert, while I certainly enjoy and want to hang out with friends, going out partying or whatever is also balanced by the knowledge that I’ll have to spend an equivalent amount of time doing a solitary form of fun. This is, I think, one reason my circle of friends is so much smaller than my extraverted roommate’s.

    As for jobs that an introvert would probably get picked for over an extrovert: software engineering jobs.

    I notice the commenter who wrote this has been told off :) I take it, then, that I needn’t really bother to explain why this is not only wrong, but borderline offensive?

    Regarding the disdain of penpalling that Scarlett mentioned: I don’t penpal, but I do tend to be very active in forum-based roleplaying (the form I do is pretty much like writing a story with multiple people; no dice or anything). At one point in time my family teasingly referred to my roleplay partners as my ‘imaginary friends’. I put a stop to that. What really gets me about online communication and online multiplayer activities –such as debate forums!– is that people who aren’t internet-oriented don’t seem to realize that there is another actual, breathing person on the other end. And in that context, hours spent alone in my room really translates to hours spent talking to other people. Often about more interesting subjects than I do when I talk with people face to face.

    ….seriously. Why is there this attitude that two hours of my time is better spent sitting silently in a movie theatre in the mere presence of other people than discussing abortion rights or examining the psychology of people in extreme situations (roleplaying) with people I –god forbid– can’t smell what they ate for dinner on their every exhalation?

    Sorry. That may have turned into a bit of a rant towards the end there.

    …also, how do you define ‘external stimulus’? To my mind, I’m always externally stimulated –this blog, the internet, all provide stimulation to me 😉

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    I also really resent all those well-meaning extroverts who’ve made it their priority or who go out of their way to teach me the “right” way to act, how to be loud and aggressive just like they are, as if they’re doing me some sort of favor.

    Laura, that sounds like “herd mentality” – like religious folk who just *have* to convert you, because otherwise they would feel surrounded by like people. I don’t know if that’s an extension of extroversion, or just a case of privilege. But it sucks, and I sympathize with you.

    Raeka, I agree that extroverts have networking advantages. What I meant about extroverts not calling bullshit on corporations and politicians is: in my experience, extroverts put a premium on “everybody getting along” so they don’t cause conflict. It’s almost always an introvert who speaks up and blows the whistle, because they may put a premium on something other than everyone getting along, such as their perception of ethics or fairness.

    I notice the commenter who wrote this has been told off :) I take it, then, that I needn’t really bother to explain why this is not only wrong, but borderline offensive?

    Go right ahead! I couldn’t really speak directly to that assertion because I don’t really know diddly about that field.

    ….seriously. Why is there this attitude that two hours of my time is better spent sitting silently in a movie theatre in the mere presence of other people than discussing abortion rights or examining the psychology of people in extreme situations (roleplaying) with people I –god forbid– can’t smell what they ate for dinner on their every exhalation?

    I don’t know, but it seems to me some people value physical nearness/contact more than verbal communication. I don’t know for sure if that’s an extrovert/introvert thing, or if there’s some overlap, or what. To me, being crammed next to other people is just uncomfortable and, like you said, it assaults my senses in various ways. Conversing with people, OTOH, is something I find intensely rewarding.

    also, how do you define ‘external stimulus’? To my mind, I’m always externally stimulated –this blog, the internet, all provide stimulation to me

    What I had in mind included all that. The difference is, as far as I can tell, when introverts stop receiving communication stimuli from people, books, the internet, whatever, their minds keep going with it. When extroverts stop receiving communication stimuli, their minds are done with that topic/exchange and now they’re bored and need something else to do/think about.

    I’ll have to think up a better phrase to convey that.

  12. says

    Oh my God…yes. This description of “introversion” describes me perfectly. My mind is pretty much constantly going, I spend a lot of time online reading, I generally like to do things for myself rather than involving a bunch of other people, I can be very irritable when I want quiet, when I want to mentally recharge, but the people around me keep talking to me, I often feel as though my time is being wasted doing things like watching movies in a movie theater if it’s not something I really want to see, and yet there are times, at parties when surrounded by friends, when I can be quite talkative, friendly, et cetera. I just can only do that so much before I need a breather. In college, especially freshman year, I’ve often felt like the weird one, as many people seemed able to go out and party every night, whereas I was okay with very little close human contact for weeks at a time–probably why I’ve seldom found myself involved in drama between people who only became friends because they needed people to be around–I could wait to make friends until I actually found people I connected with.

  13. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s weird, and I’m unable to figure out why that happened. If you want to email it to me I’ll edit it into your comment.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    Okay, I added the link back into your post. I think that really IS how some people hire. Something has to explain why so many people end up in positions they never should’ve been allowed near.

  15. says

    I suspect that Hollywood is more biased towards extraverts than other places, or at least more so than in Canada (though Canada is also an extravert nation, so I think it’s just Hollywood). I’ve been told that if I want to pitch in LA, it must be over the phone or in person – they don’t answer their emails – but in Canada there are many places (e.g. networks) that take pitches by email or even have forms you can use to upload your pitch to their website, though phone calls generally still work best. That makes it easier for extraverts to pitch, even though writers are likely to be more introverted on average.

  16. C says

    I find your definition of an extrovert over-simplistic. Extroverts don’t just ‘need external stimulation’ while introverts are wonderful enough to create their own. Extroverts do enjoy external stimulation, but as regards “their own thoughts and ideas,” we have plenty; your definition seems to imply that we lack these and prefer the ideas of others. In fact extroverts just want to externalize their thoughts and ideas because it is how they process. Your definition makes it sound like extroverts have very little going on inside their own minds. This may seem like nit-picking, but i think both extroversion and introversion are misunderstood too often.

    That said, the privileges and preconceptions you discuss are valid. I just thought the definition suggested something like vapidity in extroverts.

    And for the sake of a well rounded discussion, I don’t think all extroverts, or even most extroverts, automatically assume introverts are shy/boring. No doubt some do, but i think for the most part people see a persons personality through either extroversion or introversion.

    Are there ways in which introverts are privileged?

  17. Jennifer Kesler says

    It certainly wasn’t in my mind that extroverts lack ideas of their own, and I really can’t see how you got to that from anything I said without extrapolating.

    I didn’t say all extroverts assume introverts are shy/boring. I said that most people (that would include both types) mistake introversion for unfriendliness and/or emotional damage. This is how we’re conditioned to read people who turn down any social opportunities ever (unless of course they’re turning them down for a better social opportunity, which is acceptable).

    I’m aware of no ways in which introverts are privileged here in the US, because we are read as snobbish, unfriendly, cold, emotionally damaged, “intimidating” (my personal favorite) and other negatively-charged stereotypes. It’s hard to imagine the situation where that would extend you some unearned magical benefit in a society as extroverted as the US.

  18. says

    There is one privilege for introverts that I know of, and that’s that introverts tend to score higher on average on IQ tests, and may do better in school as well, too.

  19. Jennifer Kesler says

    How do you work that out to be a privilege, as in “unearned boon given to you by your society?” Are you saying the IQ tests are engineered to favor introverts? (I’m asking because on first read, I thought you meant “Introverts have higher IQs” and my response was going to be “No, IQ isn’t a privilege, it’s the luck of the genetic draw” – on second read, I had a feeling you meant something else and wanted clarification.)

  20. says

    I was referring to IQ scores rather than the underlying intelligence the tests are supposed to measure. When introverts design tests that make them look more intelligent than extraverts, I’m inclined to assume that there may be at least a little bit of test bias. Not that I think it’s intentional.

    I have no idea if introverts actually have higher underlying intelligence. I don’t know if anyone’s crunched the numbers. And it would depend on how you define intelligence, too. I do know that the smaller amount of female scorers at the lowest and highest extremes is due to test bias, given that factor analysis has shown there to be no real difference in the range of intelligence between the sexes. And I’m all too familiar with the assumptions made by men in high IQ societies to explain the shortage of women in these societies. So I’m prepared to assume similar biases for personality.

  21. Jennifer Kesler says

    Okay, got it. I didn’t realize introverts scored better, but I agree it’s safe to assume whoever scores better on IQ tests (in the past, for example, it’s been white folks and men) is the recipient of some privilege there. So, amending my prior comment, I’m now aware of one introvert privilege – higher IQ scores.

    Hmm, if I had to guess, I would doubt that one’s level of extra- or introversion would have anything to do with IQ. Then again, I’m generally doubtful of all claims to correlate IQ with any other physical or personality trait.

  22. Scarlett says

    I’m disinclined to believe that introverts ARE more intelligent, versus just doing better on IQ tests. To pluck something out of thin air, maybe IQ tests tend to favour book smartness over street smartness (which isn’t to say that the two are mutually exclusive). I wouldn’t know; I haven’t touched an IQ tests since I glanced at a few in amusemenet when I was about 13. My dad’s a strong DISbeliever in their effectiveness in assessing intelligence, actually; he reckons its a tecnique that can be LEARNED rather than someone you’re either innately talented at or not.

  23. Jennifer Kesler says

    Scarlett, your dad is right. Old style IQ tests did a lot of harm by asking culturally biased questions and emphasizing only certain types of intelligence. In recent years, researchers have begun to realize there are many forms of intelligence, and they’re working to develop IQ tests that do a better job at measuring “native intelligence” – the abilities of your particular brain regardless of your education level. But it’s tricky. How do you know when you’re really getting the right data to make that assessment?

  24. C says

    “When extroverts stop receiving communication stimuli, their minds are done with that topic/exchange and now they’re bored and need something else to do/think about.”

    I don’t think i was extrapolating–the above comment is an egregious example of what i was getting at, as it implies that extroverts are incapable of independent thought and that their minds empty like sieves when left alone.

    This is incorrect, and honestly, offensive. Saying that someone is incapable of thinking on a topic without help from an outside source sounds like saying they are stupid.

    Please allow me to clarify. Extroverts enjoy discourse, but they do not cease thinking when discourse ends! They need to *externalize,* which is different. For example, if an extrovert is being externally stimulated by having a fierce debate over foreign policy with a friend, and that friend has to leave, quite to the contrary of the above statement the extroverts will likely continue to produce and mull over ideas! The difference is that they would prefer to *externalize* these ideas, so they will, if able to, open up a journal or jot down ideas on a napkin because this is how they best function.

    So, this is not an act of communication, but it is an act of externalization. Extroverts do love communication, and prefer to do their thinking and processing externally, but they absolutely do not cease to do so when left alone. Their mode of externalizing during times when they happen to be ‘unstimulated’ just shifts accordingly, and if they can’t externalize at all? They continue thinking! All people introvert and extrovert at times: they simply have preferred modes, and even then, the vast majority of people like (and are capable of thinking during!) a certain amount of their non-dominant mode.

    —-

    “It’s almost always an introvert who speaks up and blows the whistle, because they may put a premium on something other than everyone getting along, such as their perception of ethics or fairness.”

    I cannot say i have any hard data to refute this…but do you have any data to support this? Please think about the enormity of the implications of this statement. Extroverts are not mindless cows. Extroversion is not a disease that renders a person incapable of ethical standards. It is not even a crutch that makes it harder for them to develop ethical standards.

    It is hard for extreme extroverts and extreme introverts to understand each other at times because they process things in such a vastly different way–i know that i have in the past been confused about and misunderstood the behavior introverts. Judging by these two incorrect assumptions, and their sweeping implications, I think maybe you have misunderstood extroversion to a degree.

    Respectfully,
    Clara

  25. Jennifer Kesler says

    We may have two communication issues here. One, after my discussion with Anemone, I wonder if language itself is an issue, because I’m having a very hard time conveying what I see as neutral traits of extroversion without them sounding vapid. Two, we may not be classifying extroverts in quite the same way.

    For example, the engaging conversation that ends abruptly. I would classify someone who needs to journal further thoughts on it as an introvert. And I didn’t mean their brain would be empty when the conversation ended. The people I classify as extroverts thrive on feedback and exchange, so they prefer to wait until they have feedback available before continuing with that topic. The advantage of this system is they might ultimately get better, or at least more relevant, ideas because of the feedback. The disadvantage is that quality feedback isn’t always available.

    For introverts, the advantage of not preferring feedback is they need only themselves. The disadvantage: this can lead to stale ideas or intellectual self-indulgence.

    As for whistle-blowing, I have only my experience in several workplace discrimination incidents and family abuse situations. Extroverts definitely had minds and values: until things escalated, they felt introverts were blowing perceived wrongs out of proportion, and believed it was in everyone’s better interest to accept that nothing is perfect and try to get along rather than take great risks to corrects the wrong. I frankly can’t say that’s a wrong way to look at things, even though I disagree with it. I wasn’t suggesting there would never come a point when an extrovert would blow a whistle, but rather that introverts tend to have a lower tolerance for perceived wrongs because they don’t always value what’s working in the relationship the perceived wrong came from. This is good in a situation where someone’s rights are being significantly violated, but it can be bad when the perceived wrong is a small detail in an otherwise beautiful picture. Say, for example, you have a wonderful job you like that pays well and you’re treated with respect and appreciation, but you notice one of your co-workers gets special perks you don’t get. Instead of fixating on that until you become obsessed, it would be better to shrug it off and focus on the fact that you’ve got what you want.

    ETA: Argh, again, re-reading this post a lot of the language sounds like I’m saying extroverts tolerate abuse and try to silence victims more than introverts, and that’s not at all what I’m thinking. I just mean they have more points of criteria a situation has to satisfy before they’re convinced it is, in fact, abuse. This is not a bad thing at all in the sense that introverts are sometimes truly “oversensitive” and the counsel of extroverts to be patient and take a step back is sometimes the most appropriate advice possible. And even when the introvert is correct in her early labeling of the situation abusive, waiting for more indicators isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you need evidence to get anything done anyway (even in an informal setting where you’re confronting someone as a group or something like that). Like Anemone says, I do define introverts as people who are more sensitive to external stimuli, and this can lead us both to highly sensitive accurate reactions and over-sensitized flying off the handle events.

  26. says

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find that introverts are more likely to be whistle blowers. Either that or more sensitive people are. It would depend on how you define introvert. If you define introvert as being overwhelmed by sensory input more easily, introverts are more likely to complain sooner because they reach overload sooner.

  27. C says

    Hi Again,

    “I do define introverts as people who are more sensitive to external stimuli, and this can lead us both to highly sensitive accurate reactions and over-sensitized flying off the handle events.”

    E/I is not something that you are free to define how you like or based on how you see the world—it is a tool for understanding that has rules. I am by no means an expert, but was coached on personality by a trained, myers briggs qualified professional and am the daughter of someone with experience in this field. To my understanding, ‘sensitivity’ as you use the term has little to do with E/I.

    The following sites give a decent summary idea of the difference between introverting and extroverting (there is more to it—I was taught in person so I can’t recommend a good book personally, but I’ve heard “Please Understand Me” by kiersey is a very good one). Personality Page lists under extroverting behaviors actions such as making coffee and working on a car: demonstrating that doing something by oneself does not necessarily mean one is introverting. Journaling thoughts, as we discussed earlier, is not introverting merely because it is done alone. The myers briggs page reminds us that extroverts often feel better when they can ‘talk out loud’ about something and hear what people have to say about it—notice however that they do not say ‘talk with someone,’ using the broader ‘talk out loud.’ This is because the literal action of talking out loud, of externalizing, helps an extrovert formulate ideas. Having someone else there is even better for us, but when chewing over a truly complex issue in our mind we may talk out loud to ourselves as we drive alone, or even move our mouths without producing sound, because both actions bring our thoughts into the external world, which is the palette we prefer for thinking.

    http://personalitypage.com/four-prefs.html

    http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.asp

    I appreciate your edit’s clarification but you continue to make assumptions about an ‘other’ (extroverts) based on introverted preference. That you see these traits as neutral despite negative connotation is somewhat irrelevant since many of the traits you attribute to extroverts are based on misconceptions.

    When a person asseses the world, in this case to draw conclusions about ethical behavior, they look for evidence. But what people think of as evidence differs based on how they go about making ethical decisions and what evidence they produce. Your assertion that extroverts are less likely to be whistleblowers is based on the fact that you make ethical decisions differently than extroverts.

    Upper classed people look at the impoverished and see, despite all the evidence to the contrary, evidence that people have made ‘bad choices’ because agency is what they understand. An introvert who says ‘I don’t see much evidence of ethical decision making, so they must be that extroverts do it less/to a lesser degree’ is probably unwittingly limiting what constitutes evidence to that which constitutes their own introverted process of ethical development–much in the same way that a privileged person will define success and failure in terms of choice even though choice is not the appropriate lens through which to look at the situation.

    I can contribute to this general idea by drawing on personal experience. I have rigorous, in-depth conversations (that probably sound like angry arguments to sstrangers) on a daily basis with one of my close friends. I hugely enjoy these ‘arguments;’ we aggressively nitpick what constitutes morality in a variety of different contexts from day to day, a discourse that continually helps me to hone not only my ethics but my class, race and gender consciousness. Both extroverts and introverts can be ethical or unethical; fair or unfair—how they arrive at either of these fluid states differs. I am positive that if there were any concrete evidence of introverts being more fair in some way, the extensive research done on personality type would have revealed this. Given the staggering implications of the assertion, it would have been made public. In any case—it’s a pretty offensive assertion to those of us who strive, through discussion, reflection, journaling, listening, that we are somehow ethically impaired. The sheer variety of human nature belies so simplistic a statement.

    “I just mean they have more points of criteria a situation has to satisfy before they’re convinced it is, in fact, abuse.”

    There are several things wrong with this assertion (and others made). Firstly, this trait you attribute extroverts with having is frankly an unfounded overextension of E/I theory. There simply is no basis in E/I theory for extroverts having such a criteria based on their social preferences. Rather than being based in the theory, this seems to be based on your own inferences about the world—and as I said above, if you lean strongly towards one end of the spectrum you may be not seeing something because you don’t know to look for something there.

    To further develop that point: this assertion attempts to give the extroversion/introversion concept far more scope that it actually has. The E/I element of personality type is very useful in its place, but it is also limited. It is used effectively on an individual basis, and useful for analysis of groups only when looking at groups as sets of individuals; it does not take into account sociology. I am hard pressed to think of any theory so overarching and broadly applicable that it can be used accurately and effectively to diagnose so complex a situation as any involving abuse or ethical misconduct!

    Since it is neither such a theory, nor sociological in nature, this particular application to group ethics and dynamics is unfounded in the actual theory. It is akin to attempting to put a sink-screw into a wall with a hammer–the tool, very useful in it the proper context, is being applied to a task to perform a function for which it was not designed.

    Lastly, you are speaking to a binary that does not exist. All people extrovert and all people introvert at times and to varying degrees. E/I exist along a spectrum; someone is an introvert because that is their preferred form of processing, not because they are incapable of extroversion. Indeed the preference can be very slight and the person is still technically an introvert. Such absolute, sweeping generalizations about how extroverts and introverts deal with ethical dilemmas in group situations cannot be supported because they are based on an incorrect understanding of E/I as a binary rather than a spectrum.

    I find myself more wary than ever of this analysis of privilege. Certainly on an individual level, combating the privilege in our lives requires actively seeking an understanding of people who are, in some way, ‘other’ to us. The sweeping assertions made in this analysis and subsequent commentary however demonstrate a lack of understanding of extroverts. There is more to E/I theory than realizing that one side really resonates with us; our intuitive understanding of the _____vert side does not mean we understand the whole theory! Indeed, E/I is a device meant to help us realize that there are things we cannot understand so intuitively; that we must actively seek to understand the other side of the spectrum because if we don’t are perceptions are bound to be defined in the terms of our own preference. This article serves up inferences that are so biased towards introversion that I can only conclude that the author didn’t grasp this necessity. These personal inferences are presented as truth but they are unfounded in the theory referenced—giving the impression that these inferences are based in it.

    My apologies if this is somewhat convoluted. It’s late.

    Clara

  28. Jennifer Kesler says

    Clara, I’m in the camp that finds Myers-Brigg only slightly more helpful than a natal astrology chart. There are better ways to assess personality, IMO – namely, an oral evaluation from a trained counselor/therapist/professional who can note body language and other factors as well as the self-reported answers.

    BTW, MB pegs me as bordering I/E. This, I assure you, is just not accurate.

    That said, I will acknowledge that many of my examples of -vert behaviors were anecdotally based on people I have known and assessed to be I or E. It’s wholly possible I’ve made some incorrect assessments. But you say I claim introverts are more “fair.” That’s not at all what I said. I said that introverts are more likely to act on their perception of fairness without regard to how the pursuit of fairness might undermine social structures.

  29. says

    Why is there this attitude that two hours of my time is better spent sitting silently in a movie theatre in the mere presence of other people than discussing abortion rights or examining the psychology of people in extreme situations (roleplaying) with people I –god forbid– can’t smell what they ate for dinner on their every exhalation?

    Exactly, Raeka! My extroverted boyfriend just about went through the roof when I decided to complete my education online and not in the constant physical presence of others. I wouldn’t have connections, etc. and so on, he was just so negative. And he hates me blogging on line too. When I explained that I can talk to people about more substantive topics online he angrily demanded to know why I didn’t talk to real life people about these things. Apparently he has forgotten about the need for small talk and the rules about not talking politics, religion, or other unpleasant topics in mixed company due to the screaming matches that ensue. I certainly can’t talk to him about anything “deep” without him saying it’s media created or I’m making generalizations. At least on line the words are there to read, so everyone gets “heard.” One must also carefully consider before they write those words in order to get a point across. There’s no way I could be more eloquent speaking than writing.

  30. Kate says

    I’m an introvert. It’s simple. Extroverts do better in job interviews, and hiring decisions are made on first impressions, in the first few moments of a job interview.

    Rarely, a hiring manager will take the time to make an introvert feel comfortable, get to know you, and read your resume. Then you have a prayer of getting a good job with a thoughtful boss.

    Fascinating thread. Yes, extroverts do have privilege. Yes, introversion is something you’re born with. It’s not a “handicap” – in fact it makes you better at some skills – but you can sure be made to feel that it is a defect. Thank you.

  31. fox in the snow says

    While I completely accept that introversion privilege exists, I would like to know where the definition of extroversion used in the post comes from, because it doesn’t agree with the definition I am familiar with and which I’ve been able to find in dictionaries. Chambers defines it as

    “a personality trait characterized by a tendency to be more concerned with the outside world and social relationships than with one’s inner thoughts and feelings.” (def here)

    and according to Wikipedia’s page on the topic, Merriam-Webster defines extroversion as

    “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self.”

    Both of these are in disagreement with the post’s assertion that “Extroverts are people who need external stimulation from others,” the crucial point being that the external stimulation doesn’t have to involve other people.

    I agree that taking a Myers-Briggs questionnaire is not a great way of evaluating one’s personality, but I don’t think that means that the definition of extroversion which Myers-Briggs uses is necessarily wrong.

    FS

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      It came partially from the Wikipedia article you mentioned, and if you read it further, you may see some corollaries; it came partially from a session with a Myers-Brigg specialist; and beyond that, a lot of conversations with self-described extroverts who not only talk about their own desire for lots of human company, but make it clear they consider me defective for not sharing their desire for that amount of companionship.

      The first def you mention seems to support my view when it mentions a prioritization of social relationships over inner thoughts and feelings, yet you state that it doesn’t. Social relationships would “involve other people”, yes?

      • fox in the snow says

        I think I’m reading the first definition I gave slightly differently from you. I think it would agree with your definition if the words “the outside world and” were removed, but since they’re there it indicates that extroverts are concerned with external stimulation of any kind, not just that coming from other people. Other people are a very good source of outside simulation, but so are going to buy groceries, fixing a computer and playing a video game.

        You talked about reading that wikipedia article further. Perhaps you were referring to lines like these?

        An extraverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves.

        If so, I would say that although these sentences refer only to being with other people versus being alone, that is because they are not trying to define extroversion. The definition has already been given. These sentences are trying to give a reader who is not familiar with the term a quick idea of what it means and a rough way of telling if someone is extroverted or not.

        I dug out the hand-outs from the Myers-Briggs sessions I’ve been to. They define extroversion as “Being energized through contact with other people or through engaging in activities.” (Introversion is “Being energized through ideas, quiet times, or solitude.”) The two links that Clara gave have similar definitions. I think this is a really good way of explaining it – as an extrovert myself, I can sit down and think about my inner thoughts and feelings, but I find it very tough going. I’d much rather be talking to someone, or going through my music collection, or cooking a meal, or reading a blog.

        I don’t think you’ve really answered Clara’s point that extroversion and introversion are pre-existing concepts and you aren’t using the standard definition of them. She suggested the Myers-Briggs definition, and you seem to respond by saying that you don’t believe that Myers-Briggs is a very good tool for evaluating personality. I think that Clara was referring to the theory of personality put forward by Myers-Briggs rather than the MB questionnaire. I agree that the MB questionnaire is not a good tool for evaluating personality type, but I don’t think that invalidates the underlying definitions of extroversion and introversion, especially as they are used by other personality theories (e.g. the big five) and I believe also by psychologists (I don’t have any references I’m afraid – I’ll try and ask my friend’s parents who are psychologists).

        I’m sorry to hear that some people consider you defective for not wanting a lot of human company. That’s shit, and it’s shit that you have to live in a society that sees you as strange for being who you are. (I’m in the UK. Extroversion definitely confers privilege here, though perhaps not to the same extent as in the US.) But I have to agree with Clara that this article is unfair on extroverts. I think you make a lot of generalisations about extroverts which wouldn’t hold up to objective study. I, for example, am not a “good little consumer”, I don’t vote based on candidate’s likability and I don’t torture myself to get people’s approval. Moreover, I know plenty of introverts who are overly concerned with getting other people’s approval, because I think that behaviour is caused by lack of self-confidence and I don’t think that is fundamentally linked to extroversion or introversion (though there may be some slight link because of the privileged status extroverts enjoy).

        When I first learned about Myers-Briggs I spent a long time attributing people’s behaviour to their personality types. For example, I find it very easy to be assertive and couldn’t understand why others didn’t, so I came up with a theory that introverts were naturally less assertive, and I found it easy to be assertive because I was extroverted. It was only when I wrote out a list of the people I knew and whether I thought they were introverted or extroverted that I realised that there were plenty of assertive people who were introverted, and the least assertive person I know is also a massive extrovert. I’d love to say I learned my lesson then, but I had plenty of other theories. It was only when I had discredited several of them with this kind of objective review that I began to realise that it’s easy to spot patterns when you have a small sample, and reinforce them with confirmation bias, but they often fall apart under any kind of objective scrutiny. For example, I noticed that in your post you say that extroverts get bored and frustrated easily and so are more likely to create drama just to get something going on. Later, in a comment about whistle blowing, you say that extroverts put a premium on everyone getting along and so don’t rock the boat. These seem contradictory to me – if extroverts want everyone to get along then why would they create drama just for stimulation? (MB would say that wanting everyone to get along is an F trait, and so independent of extroversion or introversion. I certainly know extroverts and introverts who are like that.)

        • Jennifer Kesler says

          I dug out the hand-outs from the Myers-Briggs sessions I’ve been to. They define extroversion as “Being energized through contact with other people or through engaging in activities.” (Introversion is “Being energized through ideas, quiet times, or solitude.”)

          But that is precisely the definition I was working from. That, right there. I think the problem is simply that you don’t see yourselves the way I see you. You probably don’t see introverts the way I see them, either.

  32. sbg says

    I have little else to add, but reading this and all the comments I had a flashback of a person in a position of power explaining that the group she was presenting information to was full of introverts and they are “slow” at processing things, so she had to be very patient…

    Me, an introvert, instantly wanted to punch her in the face, in a fit of uncharacteristic “quick” processing. 😉

  33. Clara says

    Greetings All.

    “But that is precisely the definition I was working from. That, right there. I think the problem is simply that you don’t see yourselves the way I see you. You probably don’t see introverts the way I see them, either.”

    Correct. I don’t. However, as i said, personality theory is meant to help persons of differing preferences bridge the natural gap through education about the other, NOT by simply coming up with a definition of the other that is based on ones own preference! As I said before this misses the point of the theory, continuing the negative cycle of judging the other as deficient-at-processing-the-way-you-do rather than proficient-at-a-differing-processing-style. This whole article simply perpetuates misunderstanding of the other in direct opposition to the intention of the theory.

    You don’t get to base an article on ‘how you see us’ and say its based in a well respected theory. When an introvert tells me, this is what it feels like to be an introvert, i listen—that, after all, is a significant part of I/E theory. And i expect you to listen as well. Both Fox in the Snow and I are telling you, as extroverts, that ‘how you see us’ is wrong, and that the assumptions you base on ‘how you see us’ are wrong. The fact that you are working from a definition doesn’t mean anything—the extrovert part of this is lived experience for us, so we have an intuitive understanding of extroversion as you have an intuitive understanding of introversion. Listen!

    I am becoming frustrated with your refusal to acknowledge the specific points in my comments. You aren’t answering the finite, theoretically based problems with your article that i have pointed out. You are perpetuating the very misunderstanding and applying-standards-based-on-my-preference-to-yours that personality theory seeks to help people avoid. You are not using i/e theory.

    Let me restate elements of the theory which completely negate your generalizations:

    – No type is innately superior to the other. So sweeping statements about extroverts, across the board, taking longer to reach ethical decisions are patently ridiculous. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the implications of such a truth would be absolutely staggering.
    – Everyone does some of both–again rendering sweeping statements inapplicable and ridiculous. You don’t know when/to what degree/how much people are introverting/extroverting as they make decisions.
    – Personality theory states that (in connection with the above point) during times of stress, many people switch into their non-preffered mode. They literally flip types in response to stress or trauma. This is the theory. When my dog died last year, i refused to share stories about her with anyone for a good month and desired to speak to no one about it. I wrote nothing in my journal about her and spent a great deal of time processing my grief internally. This is the lived experience. Once again, the whistleblower example is unfounded in theory as such a stressful situation could easily cause a person to ‘flip the switch’ and start using their ill-preferred mode. My best friend is a self identified introvert but during times of great stress needs to do things and babble.
    – The ethics system that is an important part of personality theory says that you never have a right to, assume or can possibly know, what a person is because you can’t read people’s minds and you don’t know how they process and self identify. My mother works in a field that demands a great deal of social interaction and most people would peg her for a strong extrovert because she is good at her job. She is an introvert. So whatever situations you based your inferences on are largely inadmissible, or at least should be submitted with a disclaimer saying they are based on ultimately unverifiable, assumptions.

    As this and my other points show, generalizations and assertions such as yours are not based on i/e theory. There is no theoretical basis for assertions about a certain personality type taking longer to reach an ethical decision; i’ve pointed out multiple problematic statements and you have made very sparing and weak concessions, insisting that you have a right to define extroversion for yourself and thus that the article is valid. You do not have this right. I/E theory is a complex whole and cannot be used in broken bits and pieces like equally useless pop-psychology. It is damaging to both extroverts and introverts to do so, because it helps each type continue to judge the other by the standards of their preference and inevitably find them wanting.

    If you wish to write an article about feeling that introverts are disadvantaged by ass-holes who have no ethical standards, vote based on likability, and put thought on hold until they can talk with another human being, then be my guest. But please do not use the label ‘extrovert’ unless you have educated yourself on the theory—the whole theory, including the part that’s meant to help each type understand the importance of judging the other by their own standards and not by yours—and have discarded the erroneous belief that i/e theory is simple, applicable to everything, and can be used to make sweeping generalizations.

    C
    __________

    SBG–Mz. Kessler continues to base assumptions on her perceptions of extroverts, insisting that her perception of extroversion trumps my lived experience of extroversion. I am not telling her that she is stupid, or even denying that extroversion privilege exists as your anecdote seems to suggest. I take issue with the sweeping, unsubstantiated generalizations based on ‘how she sees us’ which weaken her article past acceptability. They are incorrect. Their implications are offensive. The irony of your anecdote is that Mz. Kessler is in fact doing what that ‘person in power’ did you you—trying to tell me that she knows better than me how I fuction. And that person was full of shit anyway and clearly didn’t know what she was talking about.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      You still don’t get it, do you? All this comment says is, “No, you must see me as I want you to see me. That is my privilege as an extrovert, and as an introvert, you do not enjoy the privilege of seeing me as you see me.” We introverts are constantly misinterpreted and defined incorrectly by extroverts because that is your privilege in a society that privileges extroversion. We should just put up and shut up, but if ONE TIME you run across an interpretation of extrovert behavior that you don’t like OH MY GOD EVERYBODY OWES YOU. Savor the irony, folks.

      And by the way, Clara, it’s interesting that the spelling my my name is your only “misspelling” – or is it? Passive-aggressive much?

  34. sbg says

    I was (un)lucky to even notice. You know how I am about verbosity. Mostly, I was scrolling down to read your reply when I saw myself being addressed. 😉

  35. Fiona says

    Um, extroverts aren’t independent thinkers? Just introverts? REALLY?

    While I agree that extroversion is unnecessarily privileged in American society, I entirely disagree with your intimation that the only independent thinkers out there are introverts, and the extroverts are a bunch of damaged groupthinkers who can’t do anything but follow the crowd.

    I don’t think you mean to come off like you have a big case of sour grapes about extroverts, but, as a perfectly happy extrovert who is an independent thinker (and whose best friends are at least half, if not more, comprised of introverts), and who knows more than a couple extroverts who aren’t just crowd-following sheep, it seems like you’re overgeneralizing. A lot.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      I let this through only for demonstration, because seriously, can no one read? Show me where I say extroverts are not independent thinkers. No, you guys are so obsessed with yourselves that you’re reading into the post all sorts of shit about extroverts that I never said.

      The extroverts coming to this thread are beginning to make me wonder something I never would have dreamed before: are extroverts inherently narcissistic? Can’t you read something that’s about introverts and read it as ABOUT INTROVERTS for five seconds instead of trying to figure out WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT ME?

      Very little, actually. No further bullshit comments will be tolerated. You people need to work on your reading skills because, seriously, you’ve made yourselves look so much more entitled and privileged than the article even began to imply.

  36. maggie says

    There are also some sub-types like the shy introvert, who needs external stimuli but whose social anxiety prevents them from seeking it out and the bubbly introvert, who is perfectly at ease in social situations but needs the alone time to recharge.

    • donalda says

      Yeah. I’m a shy introvert myself. And of course extroverts have privilege in this society. Are you kidding? The fact that being an introvert is not seen as normal, that people consistently confuse it with shyness or even just being “quiet” I think says it all. You consistently hear being outgoing as in she’s so outgoing! as a virtue up there with generosity and compassion. You never hear she’s so introverted and thoughtful! spoken of as a virtue. But you WILL here that the crazy guy who shot up everyone at work “kept to himself.” or was “a loner.” all descriptions apparently synonyms for introversion.

      I just married into a family of extroverts and bless my husband he tries to understand that I need space to breathe. I’m trying to think of clever ways to duck out of a party so I can do some reading on my smart phone. LOL. I have learned to block out a lot of the loudness. I will NEVER understand the whole small talk for hours in a loud-ass bar thing and standing up no less.

      I keep reading that I’m not interested enough in others, but sometimes in those situations you’re lucky if you can get to talk to somebody for five minutes before they tune you out. Some people don’t click. And I find it a painful, awkward exercise trying to tease anything out of people who are supposedly more outgoing than I am. I just don’t think that these bar functions are a good place to get to know people. It seems so shallow.

      Plus, there are always filters and judging that gets in the way of any real communication. What race is the person talking to, gender, what are they wearing, what’s their class, what’s their tone of voice. All of these things figure into how you communicate to them. Or whether you even want to. It’s all power and popularity. And if you don’t have either of those things you will be disregarded.

      • says

        Oh, man, don’t get me started on small talk. What useless blabbering THAT is! If small talk was actually used to get to know someone, maybe. But knowing “I have a kid, an english degree, work as an assistant, etc. etc.” Isn’t really knowing someone. I need me the conversations like “so I was reading this article in Science about deep space telemetry as a method of searching for ETI and…” or “So let’s discuss the physics of God” or “I am so sick of The Man!” Haha, yeah. I like conversation, I guess. Not chatting. I think that’s the big difference. Though I have become a pro chatter with people i know, I can never ask the right questions when just meeting someone. Because, well, I’m NOT interested in the litle details I’ll forget like what car they drive or whether they watched the game last sunday or whatever.

        :)

        (P.S. I changed my handle over here now too–I will at both sites now be “The Other Anne” [You’re awesome, The Other Patrick!] FYI!)

    • The Fleas' Knees says

      Bubbly introvert! You’ve pegged me beautifully, I was trying to work out how to describe my type of introversion as I can be social at times, but then I’ll always need a good break and recovery period afterwards. Though I do think sometimes I can slip into being “fake” when I’m around people socially because I feel presured to be friendly, or even “entertaining,” rather than… oh, I don’t know… introverted. 😛 I tend to only truly feel like myself when I’m alone or one-on-one with trusted friends.

      Also, did you mean to say “shy extrovert” rather than “shy introvert“? Just wondering, as you describe them as needing external stimuli.

  37. Julie says

    I’ll tell you what’s uncomfortable-being raised by an extrOvert when one is a dyed-in-the-wool introvert with horrible social skills. Being raised by an extrovert who seems to think that everyone should have tons and oodles of frends because that’s the way THEY are (and an older sister is). And only having that extrovert parent Get The Message that other people tire their child out except in measured doses when the child is in her 30s and won’t take any more crap about “not having any friends”. OMG. Love her to bits, but OMG. So glad I don’t have to hear and block out those goddamned lectures about not having any friends.

  38. says

    My dad only really understood what it meant to be an introvert when he started dating my now step-mom. She’s a bit more introverted than me. She actually sat him down and explained that she would need her alone time and how she did everything and why. Both my parents are incredibly extroverted, and of the three of their children I am the only introvert. Most of my life they thought I was just a bitchy, shy loner. And sure, in puberty I had m moments, but a LOT of the bitchiness people can perceive in introverts is, I think, a frustration at the idea that we should be “normal”–as though we aren’t. It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of friends–it’s that I didn’t seek out companionship all the time. ;P

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Also, I’ve found most extroverts don’t get the concept of liking someone but needing “time off” from them occasionally, so they assume you are actually rejecting them whenever you ask for alone time. In my experience, no amount of explaining it to them will make them believe me, so I only bother to form friendships with introverts anymore. I don’t have time for people who think I’m a liar.

  39. sbg says

    Confession: I’ve only just figured out why one of the reasons watching America’s Next Top Model is so frustrating. Every. Single. Year. There’s a girl who the judges rag on for having “no personality” or, in their words, are boring. Those girls? Introverts. All season long, they’re being told they have no personality and they need to fix it – and I sit out here eating my bon-bons relating to those unrelatable, “broken” girls.

  40. elle says

    What I hate is that everybody has a personality! Having a “personality” is not synonymous with being an extrovert. That’s one thing. Second of all in the case of ATM I don’t watch it but I would think that an introvert would radiate what’s inside of them on camera. I really don’t think these girls with “no personality” are necessarily introverts. They may be bashful or just stiff, attributes which are no more synonymous with introversion than having a “personality” is with extroversion. That being the case, the stiff girls who radiate nothing from the inside perhaps should not be in modeling. They are only broken in the sense that they do not fit that particular profession. That is different from telling introverts that they are broken as human beings and too introverted to live.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Actually, looking at models, I don’t think they WANT any personality radiating from them – might distract people from the crap their bodies are being used to sell us – so the show is probably full of shit on that level, too. 😀

    • sbg says

      Maybe they aren’t introverts, but they were being told repeatedly that their personalities as they were needed to extroverted more. FCOL, there’s also always a contestant who eventually bursts into tears and the judges say, “Finally, some emotion, yay!” as if not showing emotion readily means there is a void.

      I totally get that some just aren’t capable of emoting in two dimensional photos, extroverts and introverts alike, really, but I do think the girls are being judged on more than just that. “You don’t smile enough. You’re not bubbly enough. You don’t talk enough.”

      • elle says

        “You don’t smile enough. You’re not bubbly enough. You don’t talk enough.”

        I have actually lost two jobs because this is what was said of me! People still have this problem with me. I’m not bubbly, I’m not a non-stop gabber, and what in the f*ck do I need to be grinning for 24/7? Yes, there are these expectations of women to be the social sex. Men can be strong and silent. If a woman is quiet there’s something the matter with her. You’re either a cheerleader or a b*tch.

  41. Fancy Nancy says

    Personally, I’m not sure about this extra-intra thing … I seem to be both. Whilst UK society seems to be favour showing emotions more than it used to, I am suspicious of extra-intra labelling and anyway I think I’m both!

  42. JM says

    I’ve experienced this.
    At public school, and at summer camp, I was described as “extroverted” for my enthusiasm to participate in games, to tell jokes, to be part of a group dynamic, to answer questions in the classroom and to share ideas. However, when I went to a boarding school for junior and senior year of high school, I was suddenly described as “introverted” and “shy”.
    At public school, the only thing that mattered was the ability to think critically and absorb and remix information. At boarding school, all classes were seminar-style.Those who could state their opinion the most forcefully, interrupt others and speak the loudest succeeded in sharing more thoughts and ending more discussions…as a result they were seen as more capable and more intelligent than their quieter counterparts and were treated as such by the teachers. Similarly, when a student needed something, like a room switch or schedule change, the teachers didn’t take them seriously unless they threw a tantrum, cried or tried to run away, regardless of what the student told them verbally. People tend to internalize the expectations imparted on them by others. Some of those kids really suffered, psychologically.

  43. Redfang says

    I was talking to someone online the other day, who bragged that he was very loud and outgoing, clearly trying to support his attempts to turn me on. I told him that I preferred the quiet type, to which he reacted, “…But you must go for the popular ones if you had the choice, wouldn’t you?” In other words, nobody will ever find a partner if they’re not outgoing. They’ll always be the second choice, because nobody likes that type. I was just out of touch; I must have lowered my standards because I don’t have great luck with guys, but I actually preferred the loud ones.

    There really are people who believe that true introverts don’t exist: Everyone’s really social at heart and anyone who seems to be introverted is just quiet because they’ve been excluded from society, and they’ve learned to cope that way. But really they’d open up if more people talked to them. And I say, bullshit.

    Even my mom, who always claimed she would support me through anything, never really understood what it was to be an introvert. “Some time alone is good,” she would say, “but you have to have friends. You need to get involved in social activities. It’s not healthy to stay up in your room all the time.” But did she really consider the possibility that maybe I don’t run the same way she does?

    Keeping to myself isn’t “natural?” It isn’t “healthy?” Who are you to tell me what I like? If I’d rather stay in and read a book on Friday night than go to a party or something, does that mean there’s something wrong with me? YES, I’m okay, I’m not crawling up in my little hole to die. I’m just staying where I’m happier.

    Sorry for my little rant. I’m just tired of people trying to tell me what to do and who I am, you know? I’m tired of extroverts running our society. Tired of people who don’t realize that not everyone is built the same way.

  44. emma says

    Thank you for this! Growing up, I was always told to change my personality: make more friends, be more “out there”, come out of your shell! Blah blah… The fact that extroverts are automatically considered more friendly irks me – many of them are more interested in hearing themselves talk than listening to others. Many say rude, insulting things to people and speak before thinking. Many prefer to make enough friends to throw huge parties rather than actually develop deeper relationships.

  45. Surma says

    To any (clueless) extroverts skimming this and flying into a rage, allow me to give you some background on why most of the introverts posting this are so pissed off.

    1) An entire childhood of being treated like a freak/problem child by society and in worser cases even family just because you don’t have eight billion little friends to hang out with.

    2) Being constantly judged negatively by authority figures such as managers in the adult world, even though you do your work thoroughly, quickly, and efficiently without monkeying around………because you don’t monkey around enough. What?

    3) Hearing the “You’re SO quiet!” line, or its much more accusatory sibling “You’re too quiet” virtually 10 times per month for our entire lives. Every time I hear one of these two it ups my stress level to the max. But that’s nothing compared to the worst one of all, the one that makes me positively STABBY every time I hear it, usually as a totally bogus criticism at work “You don’t smile enough.” Well, excuse me, I’m sorry I can’t randomly generate happiness for you, because that’s when I smile, because I’m happy. YOUR smile, however, I will never trust again as it obviously exists for manipulative reasons if you can do it so flippantly and with total disregard for what it’s supposed to mean.

    There are about a million other things, but I think the one that they all coalesce into is that, to our great horror, the adult corporate world is no kinder to us than the childhood world of school was. And this time there’s money on the line.

    Sorry if this post was kind of snarky. I don’t mind nice extroverts provided there’s a limit to their chatter, it’s the manipulative/mean ones that put me in rage mode.

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