Monday, May 21, 2012

The World of Introverts

I've just finished reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain.  The book is about introversion and all the differences between extroverts and introverts.  There are the obvious details and even the neuroscience behind introverts.  It's a lot of information so I wrote down some notes to prepare for this long post!

Alright so let's begin with the fear of becoming an introvert.  I must say after reading it I had to slap my forehead a couple of times.  I couldn't even begin to fathom how incredibly dumb propaganda can be.  The date goes all the way back to the 20's.  Back then, propaganda began the rise of the extrovert.  Many propaganda posters were targeted mostly towards men (shocker).  So, for my male introverts, in the 20's you were considered to be gay if you were shy.  In order for men not to be accused of being gay they would often pretend to be more outgoing so they wouldn't be labelled as shy.  Men didn't want women to assume they were gay.  Now ladies if you were shy you weren't off the hook.  Many women who were shy were considered "frigid".  As you can see propaganda is... for the lack of a better word, stupid.  OK so we got the fear of becoming shy let's move on to the affect it has on business and schools.

There is a lot of screwed up things involved in business.  You have to be absolutely dominant or then others would tell you that you wouldn't make it in business.  It's pretty inane that people would listen to the louder people only because they were loud.  Being an introvert in business has a lot of disadvantages.  No one is willing to hear you unless you slammed your fist on the table and lay down the law.  Apparently to corporate America assertiveness is key to getting into the business industry.  If you were loud, a good presenter, and assertive then guess what, you made it!  It's pretty unfair that no one is willing to pipe down and listen to the introverts.  No we have to listen to the yelling provided by the extroverts.  This isn't only business related stuff, schools follow the extroversion package they so totally strive for.  Children in elementary schools are particularly effected because they are young and teachers want to prepare them for the future.  And how do schools do this?  Schools "train" children to work together to reflect the business community.  It's mostly referred to as elitism.  We force children to work in teams only because that's how it is in the real world.  Not only is this a detriment to their self-esteem but it's also a detriment to their creativity skills.  Children who are introverts and are forced to work together are most likely not going to be proud of the finished result.  Why?  Because they have to work in a group of four or more and they have to get everyone's brains fixed on one thing.  There were three explanations for the failure of group brainstorming.

1. Social loafing- this is when people sit back and let others do the work.
2. Production blocking- this is when one person talks or produce an idea at once and others are forced to remain passive.
3. Evaluation apprehension- this is the fear of looking stupid in front of other peers.

We all have this in a group project at school.  I can personally relate to all of these whenever I'm forced to work in teams of more than three.  The one that stands out to me has to be the evaluation apprehension.  I have friends who have this stigma around looking stupid in front of people at our table.  I can totes understand why most group projects end up in a mess.  She explains that people's performances are much better when there is no one to watch, when there is no pressure on anyone.  It is said that people who work in open plan places are more likely to have high stress levels and high blood pressure.  Uh... I can understand why!  Teachers and business owners need to understand that some projects are better off doing it alone in the peace and quiet.  Working alone has its advantages.  It involves deep concentration and motivation whereas working in a group is distracting.  While working alone is dreamy she does suggest schools should practice cooperation in moderation and that they should practice it well.

Let's move on to experiments conducted by people to really get into the differences between introverts and extroverts.  There was a ton of information and I didn't write it all down.  So let's start with social experiments done by some people.  The first experiment was conducted by Anders Ericsson, he divided three groups at Music Academy in West Berlin.  One group was considered "best", second group is "good", and third group is learners.  Each group had the same requirements.  The two best groups spent their time in solitude practicing three and a half hours a day, 1.3 hours for the worst group.  The best achievers did better in solitude.  What does all this nonsense mean?  It means people generally work better alone.  Another study was with babies.  The study said that babies who were excited when seeing colorful stuff were high reactive babies and therefore it was predicted they were to be the quiet introverts.  It's vice versa for the low reactive babies.  The high reactive babies were said to be more sensitive to their surroundings and the low reactive were supposed to be unmoved.  There are differences between high and low reactive children.  The high reactive children were said think things thoroughly and to be more sensitive (hence the high reactive title).  There was another research with the infants that followed them up towards adolescence.  Although the conclusion is a bit shaky it still led a path towards some new pieces of information.

For the many of you who are drooling but made it this far in the post now I'm going to describe the introverts.  Introverts are said to prefer less stimulation (i.e reading a book, drawing, etc...).  They enjoy shutting themselves from the world to focus on work.  They are described to be quiet, intellectual, and at times thoughtful people.  Introverts are the type of people who think before acting.  They usually think about the outcomes and think things through a bit too much.  People think introverts "over think" only because that's how they are.  She also describes "reward sensitivity" in introverts.  This is when people would basically do anything for a reward.  Introverts were more likely to pay attention to warning signals.  A great example she provided was when the stock market crashed in 2008.  There were two types of people: the ones who took risk and the others who were smart about their money.  The ones who were smart about their money were introverts who weren't highly reward sensitive.  There was one part in the book that I must mention.  "...extroverts get better grades in elementary school while introverts get better grades in high school and college."

Extroverts are people who constantly need "buzz".  They need more stimulation and they prefer team building activities like communicating with others.  This is why extroverts might feel so exhausted when they're deprived from sleep.  They need arousing to function in the day.  She also states that extroverts have thicker skin.  They aren't as highly sensitive.  Now there was one alarming thing I read in one chapter.  She mentions that Al Gore presented Congress facts about global warming in the 70's.  Since Congress is mostly composed of extroverts, they didn't feel alarmed.  They needed more intense stimulation to grasp their attention.  That's kinda scary if you think about it.  They are also more likely to be "reward sensitive".  She says the stock market crashed mainly due to the extroverts who were major risk takers.

Is America becoming an extroverted country?  Absolutely!  We constantly force students to jump out and be a "leader".  While I was reading this I was confronted with numerous amounts of evidence that America is screaming for extroverted people.  We have these class inquiries at school where the whole class has to work together.  While I was reading this book we did one in history and there was like three leaders who took immediate control and left us introverts in the dust.  Another example was the slideshow on how to get into National Honors Society.  You had to demonstrate leadership to get in.  In a world where extroversion is more appreciated how can introverts possibly be leaders when they're quiet people?  Especially when you have to practically scream to get your voice heard?  Introverts are people who love the peace and quiet and don't love all the chaos that is "leadership".  Americans are some of the most extroverted people in the world and we only pay attention to that majority.  America doesn't care if you're an introvert, they want you to gain social skills that are necessary in life.  She even says that we have genetic limits no matter how we try to shape up our social skills.  That is my favorite part of the book.  It's also called the "rubber band theory".  We can only stretch ourselves to a certain extent but other than that we can't dive in to extroversion.  We tend to extroverts more because it's more acceptable but we ignore the introverts who struggle to have their voices heard.  We need to listen to introverts, they're filled with ideas and bright proposals but we abuse only because they aren't loud enough.  I don't want children to have to be forced to become someone they're not.  Schools, businesses, and society is heading towards extroversion.  I think we should really balance the two.  After all, extroverts need introverts to survive.  I strongly recommend this book because it had tons of information that I couldn't cover.  You can find it anywhere and I recommend this if you want to learn a more in depth coverage about introverts and extroverts.


  1. Group projects are miserable. See, out in the workforce, you'll probably be working with people who actually care about what they're doing.

    In school? Most group members don't give a rat's ass.

    1. Ugh I know! I would love for teachers to let us work alone if we feel like it. I perform much better when I work alone.

  2. I know i am behind on reading your blog entries but i must say that i like this one a lot. I am definitely an introvert but it always seems like im surrounded by extroverts. It seems like the only people i know that aren't extroverts are my really close friends. :P

    1. Thanks for liking the post, it took forever! A lot of people in my school are somewhat of extroverts and I'm this quiet kid who sticks his face in a book. It's just a way of balancing the world. Can't have extroverts without introverts and vice versa.

    2. I just don't like how the people that r like you with their heads in books are classified weird or strange and the cool kids don't want to talk to them. I just think its stupid.