Quiet and society’s extroversion bias

susancainI just finished reading a powerful book, Quiet by Susan Cain.This book spoke to me because I am an introvert and I’ve always been under pressure to become someone I’m not. The book was loaned to me by an introvert and is now in the hands of yet another introvert.  The three of us have been discussing the how this insightful book has made us feel about being exactly who we are. 

For a scientific explanation of an introvert, here is an excerpt from a related book: The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. — Also read Carl King ‘s essay here — 10 Myths About Introverts

“It turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it.

Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.”

According to many sources, extroverts make up 60% to 75% of the population, and introverts make up the remainder. This might explain society’s alleged preference toward extroverted behavior. We’re living in a culture that increasingly values groupthink, despite the fact collaboration kills creativity. We can’t be in a group of people without instinctively mirroring each other, and groups follow the most charistmatic person, even though there is no correlation between being charistmatic and having great ideas.

Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to “pass” as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Without introverts, the world would be devoid of

the theory of gravity
the theory of relativity
W.B. Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’
Chopin’s nocturnes
Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’
Peter Pan
Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’
The Cat in the Hat
Charlie Brown
‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’
Google
Harry Potter

Cain brings in her thesis with the insight that, “The key to maximizing talents is to put yourself into the zone of stimulation that’s right for you.”

  • The things in your suitcase belong to you and to you alone.
  • Your actions reflect parts of the things in your suitcase and all that you have experienced in your life.
  • Your character traits are all a part of your personal development.
  • Your thinking determines your attitude, conduct, and behavior, which determines the status of your relationships with others.
  • Collectively they all add up to What’s in your suitcase?

Manifesto, by Susan Cain

INFJ
Cain has three calls to action:

1.  “End the madness of constant group-work.” Offices need chatty conversations, and great spaces to make serendipitous interactions. But we need much more privacy, and more autonomy. The same is true — more true — for schools. Yes, teach kids to work together, but also how to work alone.

2. “Go to the wilderness, be like Buddha. Have your own revelations.” You don’t have to go build huts in the woods and be isolated, but we could all stand to unplug and be in our heads for a time.

3.  “Take a good look at what’s inside your own suitcase, and why you put it there.” Extroverts, whose bags might be filled with Champagne bubbles and sky-diving kits, grace us with the energy and joy of these objects. Introverts probably guard the secrets of their suitcases, and that’s cool.

“But occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you will open the suitcase up.. because the world needs you and what you carry.”

Related Posts:
Your Personality and Writer’s Voice
 All Loners Aren’t Social Misfits