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10 Myths About Introverts.
November 27, 2011 4:59 AM   Subscribe

10 Myths About Introverts: "Myth #2 – Introverts are shy: Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite." [via a comment at this similarly accurate post from Diamond Geezer].
posted by feelinglistless (172 comments total) 130 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the link: "If the science behind the book is correct, 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."

While I'll certainly track down the book the blogger mentions, and read its section on neurotransmitter function, I hope that some lovely MeFite Who Knows About This Esoteric Thing will come along and address this aspect of the post.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:10 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.

Huh. Turns out, I'm also a misanthrope.
posted by fragmede at 5:10 AM on November 27, 2011 [100 favorites]


Myth # 11 -- Introverts are sometimes annoying.
Nonsense. Introverts are always awesome.
posted by peacheater at 5:11 AM on November 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'm pretty comfortable with his statements. I do think introverts are weird- I just don't mean that in a pejorative way.
I learned a phrase on MetaFilter a couple of years ago that I like and use- "I just have a low need for affiliation".
posted by MtDewd at 5:12 AM on November 27, 2011 [22 favorites]


An introvert walks into a bar.

“What’ll it be, buddy?” asks the bartender.

“Pitcher of beer. To go.”
posted by netbros at 5:40 AM on November 27, 2011 [46 favorites]


One odd thing I've discovered is that everyone I talk to - and here I mean people who are happily and eagerly engaging everyone who walks past their desk in chatty conversation about shopping and holidays and whatnot - claims to be an introvert. It's like people read "introvert" as "intelligent" and are reluctant to claim extroversion.
posted by Scattercat at 5:41 AM on November 27, 2011 [27 favorites]


I think there's a confusion in the post. As is stated, introversion is a personality trait with, in many cases, a neurophysiological basis. The ten myths seem to treat introversion as a personality type, making further assumptions about specific aspects of personality.

As an example: "Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve." I'm certain that many intelligent, creative introverts are exactly like this. But what about the stupid, unimaginative introverts, or those who find reward in effort that is not intellectually demanding (athletics, chopping wood, tidying)?

We can make certain generalisations about the behaviour introverts are likely to exhibit. On the other hand, specific explanations of behaviour applied to a disparate group of people are at best speculative and at worst demonstrably wrong. I get the feeling that "10 Myths About People Like Me" would be a more accurate post title.
posted by howfar at 5:43 AM on November 27, 2011 [65 favorites]


There's a spectrum for introversion and extraversion — it's really not as simple as "you're one or the other".

Don’t worry about being polite.

That's dumb advice.
posted by orange swan at 5:45 AM on November 27, 2011 [23 favorites]


I'm personally still going with the whole phlegm thing. When I'm in public I make sure I regularly cough of bits of mucus to give others objective evidence (read: excuse) of my misanthropy.
posted by quoquo at 5:45 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of these days, I would like to see a "10 Myths About..." list include things like:

Myth #7 -- Zeus created the Introverts out of his left kneecap when he needed an army to fight the Titans. The Introverts, annoyed at being disturbed and expected to follow the gods into a war with creatures with a hundred hands (and how do you know they have a hundred hands, did you count them all? On every one?) wandered off to quieter places to get stuff done. Zeus, a classic extrovert and sex offender, has been making life difficult for the Introverts ever since.

Neuroscience has developed a number of promising theories to explain introversion/extroversion. It his highly unlikely that gods or kneecaps were involved. Besides, this myth does not explain the existence of Scandinavian or Chinese introverts. Suck it, Plato!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 AM on November 27, 2011 [124 favorites]


Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.


So true. I'm an introvert primarily because I hate small talk. I'm that weirdo who doesn't want to just list movies I've seen but actually discuss them. At length! And dwelling on a subject for more than a nanosecond appears to irritate the hell out of a lot of people, so I don't bother much. I guess that's why I like Mefi where I can count on a good beanplating of The Shining once in a while.

Also I hate sports so I don't fit in with most penis bearing mammals. Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?
posted by fleetmouse at 6:02 AM on November 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


I'm reluctant to dig deeper for more advice when the featured bit includes the phrase "Don’t worry about being polite".
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:05 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: You cannot escape us, and to change us would lead to your demise.
posted by arcticseal at 6:05 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now I've got that out of the way.
I'm happy to acknowledge that for the most part I'm introverted. I identified with most of the traits attributed to introverts in the article, but then 1/12 people identified with the same horoscope this morning.
Get me talking about something I'm engaged with and I will carry on talking to your fast departing back, but I'm no good at chit chat.
posted by arcticseal at 6:08 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking as someone who is withdrawn, distracted, and introverted to the point of exhaustion - dear god but these introverts do love themselves. What allows a person to say a thing like, "If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in" about their very own self?

That said, it all more or less describes me, especially #5, which I've never heard anyone else talk about. It's not that I don't like the club, people, I just don't understand what you get out of being there for seven hours that you wouldn't get from being there for like, one.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:11 AM on November 27, 2011 [29 favorites]


A psychologist once told me that the most straightforward distinction between introverts and extroverts was this: introverts need quiet alone time to recharge and extroverts need social time to do so. This makes all kins of sense to me.

Certainly it's a continuum as well - I'm more introverted than not but know plenty of people who are far more introverted than I am.
posted by leslies at 6:13 AM on November 27, 2011 [22 favorites]


I actually just read the book that the blogger references a few weeks ago and would recommend it in a 'hey this is kinda interesting' way but not a 'hey this is going to make it easier for me to survive in this crazy world' way.

The neurological explanation for intro- and extroversion seemed a bit hand-wavy to me, but then so does pretty much anything to do with psychology, personality types etc. I'm not sure if it was in the same book but I read somewhere that introverts often suffer from cold hands and feet because of their genes.

Myth #8 - Introverts are aloof nerds: I have a (now) good friend who once told me that when they first met me they thought I was "a stuck up arsehole". I think that being perceived as being stuck up or aloof is quite a big problem for me and other reasonably introverted people.
posted by neilb449 at 6:19 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, yes, yes on small talk. I hate it. I especially hate small talk hidden in inane questions designed to force me into a non converstion. "Nice night, isn't it?" It sets my teeth on edge. And I hate talking in the car. Just let me look around in peace.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:21 AM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also I hate sports so I don't fit in with most penis bearing mammals. Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?

That has nothing to do with being an introvert. I'm sure plenty of hardcore sports fans/fantasy league geeks/stats nerds are introverts and love a good beanplaring of game 6.

Introversion has become sort of an "aspirational" term used by a lot of people to describe themselves as "still waters run deep"-types, to distract from their status as shut-ins, being painfully shy, or having other kinds of extreme social shortcomings.

In fact, lots of introverts have no problem with small talk, compared to the extrovert's social habit of HelloIJustMetYouTheseAreAllMyPersonalIntimateDetailsNowYouTellMeYours conversations.
posted by deanc at 6:27 AM on November 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Every therapist I've ever seen has told me I need to get out and be more social. I just realized that THEY'RE extroverts (how else would you have a job that required talking to people all day?) and they think I can become one too. It's exhausting and nerve wracking to go to a gathering, especially when I feel like I have little in common with people. It's doubly hard because I am hearing impaired and people just like I'm aloof or possibly stupid.

One other thing - introverts should marry extroverts. They do all the talking so you can relax in the corner.
posted by desjardins at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


Orange Swan, quoting the author and then responding:

"'Don’t worry about being polite.'

That's dumb advice."

Agreed. It's entirely possible to engage someone new and yet be polite. Indeed, it's better when you do it that way, otherwise you risk coming off like an ass.

I'm not sure where the author built up this list of assertions and assumptions, personally. I don't think that most people see introversion in such a negative light.
posted by jscalzi at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2011


The concept of "introvert" was invented by Carl Jung to explain why he was so weird.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder how the introvert/extrovert ratio of Mefites compares to the general population...
posted by neilb449 at 6:33 AM on November 27, 2011


"Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?"

Ah, an introvert and a Communist.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:34 AM on November 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


I don't get the joke in the "Introvert walks into a bar" post on Diamond Geezer. Could someone explain it to me?
posted by jcreigh at 6:36 AM on November 27, 2011


Twice I have taken tests that purport to measure such things and I always wind up scoring in the middle.

Wonder what that says about my brain....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:37 AM on November 27, 2011


I don't think that most people see introversion in such a negative light.

See the comments about being considered stuck up.


It's doubly hard because I am hearing impaired and people just like I'm aloof or possibly stupid.

Oh, yes. Get enough people in one room talking, and I act like I'm stone deaf, because in that situation, I might as well be. I'm not responding to your no-doubt-scintillating conversation because I cannot understand a word of it. I'm listening just as hard as I can, but it isn't working.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:37 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


@MonkeyToes:
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.
Neuroscience became the new psychology in the middle/late 90s, and this was one of the pop psychology outputs from that period. The first study I'm aware of came out in 1999 and then The Introvert Advantage following in early 2000s.

It's been half a decade since I last looked at this vein of research and thinking, so apologise if my cleaver is dull and the butchering imprecise.

The general thrust of the thinking is that extroverts and introverts process information in fundamentally different ways. The brain pathways for extroverts are shorter, leading to faster turnaround times between 'stimulus' and 'response' iterations.

Imagine sitting chatting with someone, when you are joined by a third party obviously deep in grief. As they share their story, the extrovert will absorb what they say very quickly -- both content and body language -- and mirror it back to them in an accelerated conversation. Thus, context and depth may not be established, yet due to the fast iteration of thinking, chances are quite high that the extrovert and the grieving party will arrive at a common group of understanding, thus the extrovert will be said to have successfully connected with the individual.

Yet, the content of the conversation may not evolve, as the extrovert is not creating new thoughts, rather the extrovert is looking for a point of agreement.

In the same scenario with introverts, the grieving person joins the table. The introvert has longer brain pathways, and thus the iterative process is slower, as the extrovert will allow the individual so speak at greater length. There is a tradeoff, for the grieving party is not getting the same fast adaptation, thus they may wonder, "what is the introvert thinking about".

The introvert's brain pathways are processing the information in a different way. They are looking for context, meaning, and seeing the conversation as symbols. Thus, after an extended monologue from the grieving party, the introvert may then respond with their interpretation of what they have just heard. Chances are, it will not be a shallow interpretation, but rather a thoughtful assessment. Often the introvert will try to put the communication in a large philosophical context of what it means. They may talk about history, spirituality, or a number of different conceptual areas.

Hence a problem area for introverts in interpersonal relationships. If the introvert's deeper thinking is aligned with their communicating partner, the introvert has the opportunity to connect much more deeply -- "I understand how you are thinking and feeling in a large frame, rather than simply understanding your words and relating to you in this moment". If the thinking is not aligned, there can be a substantial rift, for the introvert is not seen as listening to the other party, as much as interjecting their own thoughts into the conversation.

Perhaps a summary of that process is that extroverts take many small risks, feeling out a place of common ground and attempting to meet other people halfway. Introverts take fewer big risks, seeking deeper points of identification, where there may be the opportunity to deeply connect -- or to deeply offend.

I cannot comment directly on the neurotransmitters involved, but safe to say the functioning of the brain processes can be made obvious. Any time one is taking greater risks, one must more deeply assess the situation. Extroverts tend to take less risks, thus they can respond more quickly. Introverts take more risks, thus they respond more slowly.

And each is an evolutionary adaptive strategy, and society absolutely needs both.

On the first point, if you have too many extroverts, there may be a lot of agreement, however there will not be a lot of innovation due to the reduced risk taking. If you have too many introverts, there will be a lot of creativity, however low stability and connection.

In society, if we think about politicians, they are often de facto extraverts. They connect with people and great individual and group identities. Then behind them sit legions of introverts, looking deeply into the human condition and understanding the deeper motivations and needs of the constituency.

If you think about this on a neurotransmitter and cerebral blood flow basis, the body only produces a fixed amount of energy for consumption by all systems in a given time. That can be changed and modified by diet, exercise, age, and the rest, however there is a finite amount of power available.

Increased bloodflow to the brain means energy is being harvested by the brain at the expense of that energy going for other uses. Thus, introverts advantage is really thinking. Their disadvantage is in the development of other systems. Sensory input perhaps, or musculature.

The extroverts, as they react much faster, may use more energy to locomotivate rather than to think.

Adrenaline accelerates the body and is typically a fight-or-flight response. Extraverts are more focused on what is going on outside their bodies. They get their neurotransmitter fix from modifications from the external world.

Dopamine is the reward chemical for interacting with the external world. It's provided to reward provision of food, water, sex, and the basic biological needs. Basically, the idea is that when you eat something, dopamine is released so that you repeat whatever behaviour led to the eating. The same with water, and sex. Again, all external stimulations.

Introverts, with a lower affect to dopamine and adrenaline, simultaneously have a lower requirement for constant releases. As we saw with the extrovert with the shorter brain pathways, they are craving continual, small connections / neurotransmitter releases. The introvert seems to crave a fewer, larger releases. The introvert is looking for a big dopamine hit from a big personal connection. Rather than the praise that comes from weekly or monthly staff meetings, they toil in darkness for years to come up with a new theory.

Someone once asked me, which one is better? Ha. Which is better, vanilla or chocolate? Both are correct. There would be a theory that says due to slower reaction times, introverts are less adapted for survival situations, thus they would have come along second -- developing behind the protection of extroverts, thus they are the more evolved. Yet, one could also say that the extrovert represents a human adapted from individualistic thinking to social thinking, thus the extrovert would be the later development, living under the protection of the introvert.

Perhaps the right way is to think of introverts and extroverts on a bell curve. There are not two types of people, there is a continuum, from the very introverted to the very extroverted. The majority of people will fall in the middle, a little more introverted or a little more extroverted.

As the far right, one will have the extreme introverts. People who think very deeply and very slowly and come up with tremendous new ideas, forming very deep informational advantages and power. On the far left will be the extreme extroverts. People who think very quickly and are able to connect with everyone they meet, forming fantastic social power networks.

If we look at their brain pathway lengths, a few will be very long, a few will be very short. Most will be average within a range.

On a final point, I do understand that socialisation is more difficult for introverts due to more rejections. Nobody likes rejection. We live in a society which is dominated by extroverts, thanks to the advent of mass media and communication, where a few extroverts are beamed around the world constantly. This seems to make introverts think that extroversion is right or better.

I would guess that there are equal numbers of introverts and extroverts around the world that are happy and miserable. Extroverts face more competition for the finite resource that validates them -- the attention of other people. Introverts, being to a higher degree, self-satisfied, face less competition for that satisfaction, but make more mistakes. Thus, there is probably an equal amount of joy and misery in each group.

Hence why I really looked at this vein for a while -- as did many others -- and then forgot about it. It doesn't do much to inform us. These theories say "your brain path is short, you are an extrovert, you need people." or "your brain path is long, you are an introvert, you need time to sit at home and recharge."

See, not informative. It's similar to saying, your blood type is A Positive, you need to eat more chicken.

This vein of research is interesting in that it has us thinking about the neurochemical roots of socialisation, but in terms of the information one can take away?

Let me summarise:

"You (and your brain pathways) exists somewhere on a continuum between being social and being thoughtful. Your goal is not to define yourself into one of two categories. Your goal is to find a balance in your life between the amount of time you spend thinking and the amount of time you spend socialising. If you look to other people for a right answer, I think you will end up frustrated, because we all have different needs and balances."

Thus, I think anyone who is offering advice on how to be a better introvert or extrovert is usually trying to sell something. Often times books that begin defining the world in two black and white terms: "There are people that are social and there are people that are thoughtful..."

"It was the best of times and it was the worst of times..."
posted by nickrussell at 6:38 AM on November 27, 2011 [274 favorites]


"A psychologist once told me that the most straightforward distinction between introverts and extroverts was this: introverts need quiet alone time to recharge and extroverts need social time to do so."

I think this gets to the heart of it. As howfar writes, the linked post and lots of people's ideas about introverts/extroverts are somehow simultaneously overly-inclusive and yet idiosyncratic to their own experience. But the definition above is very narrow and, I think, works for most purposes. Some people are exhausted by social interaction and other people are energized by it. That's a big difference which has sweeping consequences for how and how often people engage socially. Beyond that, though, it's hard to generalize.

When I first heard this definition, it made a lot of things clearer to me. I'm introverted but I really like people. I mean, I'm definitely not a misanthrope and, in fact, I find people fascinating and I love to get to know people and hear their stories and learn about them. Also, tellingly, I tend to remember all the stories and trivia that people tell me about themselves, which most people (in my experience) don't expect but, to my mind, is crucial for how I tell stories to myself about the people I know, how I understand them.

The point is that, for me, being an introvert doesn't have anything to do with how much I like other people or, really, how much I like interacting with them. Rather, it has everything to do with how much being social overstimulates me and quickly exhausts me. It's not that it's unpleasant (though it often can be when it's longer than I wish or when there's too many people for me to be able to have any meaningful interaction). It's that I like it in smaller, controlled doses. To savor, maybe. For me, socializing is like a fine meal, where I concentrate on the individual items and appreciate their flavors and subtleties. In contrast, it seems to me that extroverts experience socializing more like it's a feast, or a buffet.

I'm certainly not saying that one way of experiencing this is better than the other. I don't feel that way about food. Sometimes I like an all-you-can-eat buffet and sometimes I like a fine-dining meal. Some people have only a preference for one or the other. This is perfectly acceptable and normal. The same is true with socializing.

I do think there is probably a correlation (perhaps a relatively loose one) between introversion and approaching social interactions in an intense, one-on-one, deep way like I describe above with regard to myself. But it's not necessarily true. Maybe some introverts just can't handle much interaction with people at all, whether or not it's trivial or deep.

All that said, most of that list applies to me. But like someone said, there's confirmation bias going on here...much of that list may well seem like it applies to almost everyone, whether they are introverts or not.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:38 AM on November 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


nelib449: I predict that Mefi, just like any other Internet community, has a larger percentage of self-diagnosed introverts than the general population.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:38 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Beer to go, jcreigh, as in not staying in the bar for the beer.

Also bartender called him "buddy". He doesn't even know that guy.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 6:40 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


While TFA is correct that if you are like this (and it describes me pretty well) you can't change yourself to become extroverted. You can, however, change your interactions with other people so that you get along better, particularly in necessary contexts like work.

The key is to approach it like acting. Acting is a job and you can do it well or poorly or not at all, just as you can be good or bad or not even try to write a computer program or build a radio. You might not want to do it but I didn't really want to spend last Tuesday at a chemical plant, but I did it because I got paid well and accomplished something useful while I was there. So it goes with interacting with other people.

Other people will signal what they need to get along with you. If they are loud and boisterous you need to be loud and boisterous back to them; it's their mode of interaction. If they're quiet, even if you're an extrovert you should tone it down and be quiet. It might feel like lying to feign a fascination with some boring topic that is another person's hobby horse, but it's useful for establishing rapport.

You do not need to actually know anything about sports to talk about sports. The sports nuts will be happy to explain everything to you, often four times with illustrative examples. All you need to do is supply some vague connectors to keep the conversation going.

And often you learn interesting things doing this. I will never be as obsessed with birding as my wife is, but going along with her hobby has taken me to fascinating places, introduced me to very interesting people, and gotten me out of my comfort zone in ways that have been good for me. I do think you should seek romance with opposite types so that you complement instead of reinforcing one another.

tl;dr TFA is almost masturbatory in its self-adulation. Instead of making people put up with your style try putting up with theirs, you might find you're more flexible than you realize and you might learn something.
posted by localroger at 6:41 AM on November 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


I was a pretty classically introverted kid (except I would talk to just about anyone, although often regretting it afterwards). I developed an extroverted persona to interact with the world, and now I don't fit either classification all that well. I work in a job where I deal with lots and lots of people; I talk a lot, and I have no problem with chitchat. However, I don't really like going out, I prefer to interact with one person at a time (if I'm not giving each person my full attention, I feel kind of like I am being rude); I am often distracted by my own thoughts if I don't keep focus, and, while I can endlessly amuse myself, I like relaxing with one or maybe two other people rather than being by myself for long periods of time.

So am I an introvert or an extrovert now?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:50 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don’t worry about being polite.

That's dumb advice.


I would agree with that. If an introvert is someone who (according to this writer) sees no value in interaction for the sake of interaction, why would an introvert want to interact with a rude person out of the blue? I'm an introvert and my first instinct when a stranger interrupts my reverie or punctures my solitude is to recoil. I commute every day in a bus full of cliquish extraverts who are enamored of loud small talk, and I'm exhausted by the time I get off the bus. I'm not unfriendly -- or so I tell myself. But maybe to an extravert I am unfriendly. (And yes, I too often get the not-meant-to-be-abrasive observation from people who've known me for a while that when they first met me, they thought I was an aloof asshole.)

Let's face it, the typology of the introvert, even the one in the supposedly sympathetic portrayal in the FPP link, is skewed toward the notion that introverts are somehow, once you take away all the clucking and cooing about how wonderful and unique we all are, basically pains in the ass who need extra-special accommodations just to navigate an everyday life that is largely dominated by extraverts.

I get a kick out of Jung's analogy of the extravert and the introvert who walk together and come upon a castle. The extravert is excited because the castle implies danger, risk, adventure, and Type-A adrenalin stimulation. The introvert is intrigued because the castle implies hidden treasures, intellectual pursuits, the life of the mind. The two enter the castle, and almost immediately, the introvert finds a room full of manuscripts in the castle and immediately thinks "Library! Yay!" The extravert, on the other hand, is immediately, in Jung's words, "bored to extinction."

Introversion has become sort of an "aspirational" term used by a lot of people to describe themselves as "still waters run deep"-types, to distract from their status as shut-ins, being painfully shy, or having other kinds of extreme social shortcomings.

It's possible for an introvert to have "extreme social shortcomings." It's even more possible for an introvert to be stereotyped as having or to be presumed to have "extreme social shortcomings." I'm not sure how it is that in a world in which "extreme social shortcomings" are disparaged, if not seen as a marker of other suspect traits, that it would be somehow "aspirational" to label yourself as an introvert. The default aspirational state in modern social life seems to be extraversion, not introversion.

If they are loud and boisterous you need to be loud and boisterous back to them; it's their mode of interaction.

This may be useful in some contexts and not in others. In most cases when I try to be "loud and boisterous" in a room full of extraverts I end up looking like an socially inept ass, or if not, I end up looking like an intravert who's trying too hard. Which is exactly what I am.
posted by blucevalo at 6:51 AM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is it possible to be an introvert disguised as a extravert? I see all ten of the traits discussed as being those of introverts directly fitting into how I see myself, but I'm pretty confident that most people that know me well would describe me as an extravert. I'm very talkative (probably too much) around people I'm comfortable with and often have a strong influence on social settings. I have no problem talking to strangers or people I don't know well when the need arises, but when given the choice I prefer to be alone. Rather than saying I don't like being around groups of people I try to put the emphasis on me being a homebody. I'm fortunate that I can enjoy myself in just about any environment, but it takes a great deal of internal effort to get me to choose an environment that involves a group of people. I used to say "I love BEING Out, but I hate GOING out". I'm starting to realize that I don't really like BEING out as much as I say.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:51 AM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Acting is totally right localroger. That's how I cope with having to interact with people too and I'm pretty good at it, if I may say so, when it comes to smalltalk at least.

But other than you, I find the self-adulation in TFA pretty refreshing, from the usual "poor widdle introvert is such a mess needs to fix himself e.g. via acting", because the extrovert is almost never asked to meet the introvert at least halfways, it's always the other way round.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 6:52 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


So this is the new Asperger's for people who aren't quite autistic enough to qualify for Asperger's, yes? We're all special snowflakes. Everyone gets to have a label and a pathology.
posted by rusty at 7:02 AM on November 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


My husband and I are both introverts, with other differences in personality that make us introverts of slightly different flavors. My two teens are both more extroverted (son extremely so, daughter less so, and again, in different ways). It makes for a challenging family dynamic, that's for sure--especially as the kids have gotten older and a greater percentage of our interactions are of a generic social nature (having conversations) and a smaller percentage are strictly parental (do this, don't do that).

They both crave a level of interaction and engagement that is very hard for me to give them, and which on some level I just don't even understand. Like--you want to hang out with your mom and chit-chat? What the hell? It's so different from how I spent my teen years, where I realize my own parents probably perceived me as transforming from "the quiet one" into "she who is cloaked in a veil of silence." My daughter views a long car drive as an opportunity for a non-stop barrage of questions. When I was her age, I spent all those car trips staring out the window, thinking.
posted by drlith at 7:03 AM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


ZeroAmbition - when you say you're pretty good at acting to interact with people, is that stressful for you or are you pretty comfortable with it? Outside of some extreme cases I've always seen introversion as a personality type rather than an issue the needs to be resolved or tweaked (or even labeled). I'm just trying to get a better idea of how strongly it affects people.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:03 AM on November 27, 2011


nickrussell, flagged as fantastic. Thank you for providing your insight--it's exactly the discussion I was hoping for.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:06 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very few "extroverts" don't eventually need time alone to recharge, and very few introverts don't eventually need some human social interaction to feel sane and connected. We are a social species.

Introversion versus extra/oversion is not just a spectrum trait: it's context-dependent as well, and people often overwrite/discard information that contradicts their internal models of themselves. On any given day I can cherry-pick my memories of my internal states, experiences and behavior to define myself as introverted, extroverted, socially anxious, socially secure, sporty, geeky, intellectual, devoted to unintellectual pursuits (such as 'tidying').

As for how definitions affect the cherry-picking...well, socializing and conversing/interacting on the internet, for example, is not culturally considered as real as socializing in person. I'm not sure that there's a highly coherent distinction in several ways. Expand the cultural definition of "recharging through [real] socializing with others" to include discussion over the internet or making contact with people all over the world in this particular medium--which is not something many "extroverts" might enjoy--and I suspect you'll run into some cognitive dissonance among self-defined introverts.

My "introverted," "rational" father is a physician who interacted with patients all day long and absolutely was known for his belief in the importance of honoring their experiences and feelings. He loves meeting new people and trying new experiences. My "extroverted," highly animated and "sporty" mother can talk a mile-a-minute in most situations, make small talk with anyone and yet still feels drained and overwhelmed after meeting new people or trying too many new experiences.

I perceive myself as a coherent, rarely contradictory whole, but I am as sure as one can be of such things that this is not the case.

on preview: several of the biggest, most social extroverts I know are extremely talented emergency medical practitioners and surgeons. Which is to say that "locomotivating" and "deep connecting" is a nice contrast of extremes on pop-psychology paper, but I know who I want on the crashing HBC case, and believe you me, these kids create, revise, critique and analyze complex clinical research hypotheses aloud faster than most people can hear them. They open what feels like a fire hydrant of cognitive labor and connections. All while performing procedures and running their internal matrix for diagnostics/work-up/follow-up. They're speculating on causes and new research and and and...anyway, it's a disservice to people who tend to display a different set of ways of interacting with the world around them to cast it in single-variable terms.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 7:08 AM on November 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think, at least on the green, declaring that "I'm an introvert" is usally the precursor to someone looking for an excuse to either do something rude or get out of having to do something.
And it's easy enoguh, at least for me, to turn small talk into a more interesting conversation.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:09 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, Richard Feynman and Randy Pausch. Off the top of my head.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 7:10 AM on November 27, 2011


Man, do humans love to categorize things.
posted by Mooski at 7:12 AM on November 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


While it doesn't address the neuroscience aspects, Jonathan Rauch's 2003 article Caring for your Introvert is very entertaining reading and addresses most all of the author's 10 myths [discussed previously on MetaFilter here].
posted by msbubbaclees at 7:20 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"The key is to approach it like acting. Acting is a job and you can do it well or poorly or not at all, just as you can be good or bad or not even try to write a computer program or build a radio."

That's interesting because an apparently weird thing about me is that I worked for years each at waiting tables, sales, and software customer support. I kind of fell into waiting tables; it wasn't anything I'd have thought to do on my own. But I ended up being very, very good at it and did it for about five years in my early twenties, mostly in fine-dining. Sales I struggled with at first because, like everyone, I hated to close and I had to find a way to be successful at it while not violating my own ethics (I learned to concentrate on qualifying buyers and getting them what they needed and things took care of themselves after that). Support work I fell into, as well, after working on the development side of things and then getting the manager of support position at a regional ISP.

And in volunteer work, I've done rape crisis work and found that I dealt very well with survivors and found it gratifying.

In all cases I found that I was able to be much more "successful" socially than I am in informal, personal interactions. Why? Because these are all structured social interactions with specific goals. In that context, I found that my ability to be empathic and carefully focus upon and read people to solve problems was a huge asset. And because I'm analytical and intellectual while also being personable and genuine (which is important to me), I could create relationships with strangers in these settings in a way that I have much more difficulty doing otherwise.

In regular social situations, I usually either don't quite understand why all these people insist upon interacting with each other for no apparent purpose, or I understand the purpose but find it trivial or uninteresting.

I wouldn't quite say that when I'm social in a job (as above) that I'm "acting". But it certainly is accurate to characterize it as a "job", as something that I'm doing with specific goals and methods. It's not the case that I'm not genuine, although it's probably the case that I'm not entirely spontaneous.

But this may be really important, I don't know—I specifically and deliberately normally don't do with people the sorts of things I do in those situations. Because I feel like it's manipulative. It's acceptable, to my mind, when my interaction with someone is carefully calibrated to achieve the result that both of us want to achieve because we're in some formal or semi-forma social relationship with clear goals. But otherwise? That seems to me to be not right, unfairly manipulative.

Anyway, even when I did this stuff as work, the social interaction itself was as exhausting to me as it ever is. But, you know, working a job is exhausting and accomplishing any worthy goal is often exhausting. I didn't mind it making me tired because it was a good tired, in a way.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:22 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some of that really did make me cringe a little.

I am a super-extreme introvert--both professionally and self-diagnosed--but that doesn't mean I'm some kind of a sage genius. (By which, of course, I mean, that's not why I am such a sage genius. The reasons for that are vast and probably unknowable.)

The only thing introversion is and the only thing it means is that I require a lot of time alone.

Sometimes, in some situations, I am socially awkward. Other times, I'm pretty smoove.

When I'm feeling really misanthropic, it's a problem. When I'm happy and fulfilled, I really like and care about people and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, I am a big fat jerk and talk too much. Sometimes, I am a big fat jerk and talk too little. Sometimes, I give a shit that that makes other people uncomfortable. Other times, I don't.

None of these things affects the fact that I need hours and hours and hours of alone time every day to be at my best. That's not just the simplest way to understand it. It really is the whole thing, and all the examples and explanations beyond it (by which I mean the social ones, not the neurological ones) are more like generalized illustrations of that.

That said, I completely understand and often happily participate in those defensive sort of arguments, because some of the common myths about introversion are really offensive, and because it's outright insulting sometimes how completely ignorant people can be about it. I've never known someone who seemed to be an expressed introvert who couldn't at least summarize what an extrovert's motivations and proclivities were. I've known many, many apparently expressed extroverts, though, who seemed completely incapable of recognizing that someone was fundamentally unlike them in that sense.

It usually manifests as a well-meaning projection, because when an extrovert starts displaying characteristics of an introvert, it usually means there's something wrong, like they're depressed or something. The insulting part really comes in, though, when people characterize extroverts as being more empathetic and understanding of other people, and introverts as socially inept and misanthropic.

Why is it that I'm always the one making the accommodations, chit-chatting and doing that social thing because I know it's important to you and makes you happy; but you can't accommodate my need to be able to do stuff without having someone demand a play-by-play narration?

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Nothing.
I CAN TELL YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING! WHAT IS IT?
It's nothing interesting.
NO I DON'T THINK IT'S BORING. ARE YOU WRITING SOMETHING ON THAT PAPER? WHAT'S IT FOR?
No, I'm really just doing something boring that will be even more boring to me if I have to explain it as I'm doing it.
WELL I NEVER!

They really do speak in all caps, too. See how they are?
posted by ernielundquist at 7:22 AM on November 27, 2011 [24 favorites]


Sometimes it seems to me like the whole "introvert/extrovert" dichotomy falls out of the fact that we are really shitty at guessing what's going on in other people's minds.

I am at a party, and I'm feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I had a long day and the last thing I want to do is meet new people. I'd rather be home reading a book. Across the room, I see someone who seems like they are having a great time. They are a stranger to the party but they seem eager to find pleasure in every conversation, laughing boisterously, etc. etc. I say to myself, "I am an introvert - that's why I'm not having fun. That person is an extrovert - that's why they are getting along and making new friends."

But that's using an internal trait to excuse external behavior, and I can't really logically do that - perhaps this boisterous stranger is secretly dreading this party too. Perhaps in her mind she is wishing that she was home soaking in the tub. Maybe she just puts more into the world than I do, which means my own boredom and lack of friends is something that I can fix, not something determined by some internal characterization.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on November 27, 2011 [23 favorites]


muddgirl has it spot-on.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2011


I've always hated being in crowds, I pretty much stop talking in social situations involving more than 3 people, unless it's family or such, and I can't do small talk well at all.

However, I chose and love the teaching profession, where I interact all day with ~22 people, and I've learned that there are two key components that make teaching enjoyable.

1 - Six-year-olds don't engage in small talk. They just blurt out whatever bizarre thing is in their head, and it's often funny as hell.

2 - I enjoy talking to people about something I think they're interested in (like their kids, in the case of the parents, or, say, the vampire squid in the case of the kids).

I still have problems talking to parents, and I constantly wonder if I just left in the middle of a conversation or if I should have entered a conversation more gradually. However, the parents mostly all know me at this point and I think just accept it.

I also really enjoy parent-teacher conferences, which I think is kind of unusual (for teachers in general, not introverts)... some of the other teachers seem stressed out by them. My conferences go really quickly, because I don't chat socially before or after, but I love telling parents about their child's strengths and how they can help them at home. I also have no problem addressing all the teachers at my school in a large group, if I'm telling them something that I think they want to hear.

By the time I get home, though, I pretty much want to sit in a cave and read, so...
posted by Huck500 at 7:33 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sending this to all my extrovert friends.

Not that I have many, of course.
posted by tommasz at 7:44 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But what if I am an aloof nerd?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Staying true to the acting I would say it's a bit like stage-fever Slack. Very stressfull before and at the beginning, then while "performing" it can go either way. Good or bad and become either embarassing or I'll get really into it, even becoming rather smug about it (oh, my they really fall for that crap). It always feels fake, pointless and unnessecary before and after to me though.

And yeah, I might actually be pretty close to the Asperger's line of introversion.
And am a big jerk too.
This plate of beans it's not helping, is it?
posted by ZeroAmbition at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2011


Also I hate sports so I don't fit in with most penis bearing mammals. Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?

Being introverted doesn't mean you should be antisocial. If you're with people who like baseball, you probably shouldn't insult them.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:49 AM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]



I always wonder when reading articles about introversion how much of what we call "introversion" is in fact low-grade, persistent, social anxiety.

Conversely, and still understanding these two terms in their purest extremes, I also wonder how much of what we call "extroversion" is in fact low-grade, persistent insecurity, expressed through an inability to concentrate, to be alone, a proclivity toward boredom, etc.

I say this as someone routinely labeled an introvert by those I've dated. I like time alone to read, write, knit, (surf the internet, ahem!), etc. I have only a small, tight circle of friends. I love parties but only for an hour or two at a time, after which I begin to feel battered. And so on. I suppose what confuses me is that many of the people I know who understand themselves as extroverts also behave in similar ways. Indeed, now that I search my acquaintances for people whose behavior truly fits the two extremes, I can come up with two people: one who is in fact profoundly depressed (the "classic introvert"), and one who has been doing his damned best for years now to avoid writing his dissertation (the "classic extrovert").

That said, I think if the labels help people feel better about and more accepting of the broad varieties of human behavior, then they are useful.

(Random half-baked conclusion: Where I hesitate is when these terms are promoted as useful tools in calibrating one's behavior toward a friend, lover, acquaintance, etc. A "diagnostic tool" for relationships, as it were. I'm thinking here of the numerous times I have befriended or dated someone more outgoing and adventures than me, and how greatly I've profited from being (gently) strong-armed into experiences that I otherwise would have avoided. Had said strong-armer decided instead to leave me alone, or not work to include me, because I was an "introvert" whose reluctance stemmed from some fundamental neurological essence, it would have cost me some really profound experiences.)
posted by artemisia at 7:51 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being introverted doesn't mean you should be antisocial.

No?

Yeah, okay, you might have a point.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2011


Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?

Blasphemer.
posted by jonmc at 7:54 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the most extreme extroverts really don't need alone time to recharge. They need alone time to dispose of the bodies.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


I got turned off by the guy's advice when he tried to correlate IQ level with respect to the severity of one's introversion. That's just stupid. Besides that particular nitpick, I'm on the side that says the world of intro and extroverts isn't so black and white; like 'orange swan' said - it's a spectrum. I can understand the natural tendency to want to categorize people (and sometimes even yourself), but at the same it's wise to keep in mind what consequences can arise through such categorization.
posted by Evernix at 8:06 AM on November 27, 2011


I didn't think much of the article because it comes across as a little too "I'm a creative genius, you're just a boorish jerk" which in the end I don't think helps anyone.

Frankly, I get a little tired of the introvert/extrovert labels because then everyone gets to put someone in a little box just by what they observe. I'm not talkative at all at work and, believe me, I have tried acting but since I refuse to talk shit about my body and go on the latest dieting craze, I don't really have much to talk about. If my workplace was full of people that I actually liked and had similar interests as mine, I would probably be more talkative. So, my current co-workers observe that I am a loner, but am I really?

If you feel your life is really lacking something by not going out to parties and hanging out with people on a regular basis, sure, you can do something about that. But if you're happy having just one or two close friends and you meet up at a quiet cafe every so often, that's okay too! It sure would be nice if there were commercials about people meeting at a library and quietly reading together, but that doesn't sell beer.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 8:07 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


There seems to be a confusion here between introversion/extroversion and other dichotomies such as propensity for abstract/concrete thinking and creative individuation vs socialisation.

There have been many extrovert people who are creative, intellectual, and non-conformist Feynman for example, or Orson Welles, or Paul McCartney. Or, well, about half the creative people that exist.

There's also a confusion because in the USA extroversion is the social norm, so introverts can feel pressure to act more extrovert. Whereas where I live - England - the social norm is introversion, so I feel pressure to conform to that norm. I think this is the case in many other societies, for example Japan.
posted by communicator at 8:07 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Now that our idiosyncrasies are idolized, and all our childhood difficulties writ large, everyone is a self-identified introvert and it doesn't mean much. I was introverted before it was all mainstream and cool!

Actually I was and I can say as a life long introvert: a lot of it has to do with selfishness and laziness. It's *hard* to connect with other people, for everyone: all that differs is how hard, and how much you think it's worth trying. I personally have been far too willing to wait for others to make the effort, and too willing to write off my own cowardice and indolence in this regard as "deepness" and "sensitivity" and "not liking smalltalk". Not that there isn't a wide range of behavior and interesting neurobiology and ways to be. But.

It turns out a lot of my "introversion" involves frustrated and denied extroversion, and while I may be the only one like this, I doubt it. As a species we're pretty hardwired to care about other people and what they think, punk rock and western ideals notwithstanding.
posted by freebird at 8:09 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Instead of making people put up with your style try putting up with theirs, you might find you're more flexible than you realize and you might learn something.

Yes yes yes yes yes. This. When I see these "Ten Things You Need To Know About My Precious Introverted Soul" articles all I can think is Oh great, another person who thinks the right way to interact socially is to dictate to the world exactly how we ought to approach His Lordship. Every point on this list is phrased in a way that encourages readers to think, If I sometimes feel this way, then clearly it's because I am smarter and more absorbed in my wonderful self than the rest of the world!

I suspect people who claim that introversion is a natural, unfixable state. Claiming that you're capable of only one mode of conversation and social interaction always strikes me as somewhat lazy and self-absorbed. Perhaps I'm just biased, because I made that claim for a long time and then realized in college that it's entirely possible to talk in other ways as long as you practice talking in them. I love deep conversations, I can't be close friends with people who can't spend hours delving into minutiae, but there's something great about talking to relax rather than to work. If conversation is a dance, sometimes what I need is an Electric Slide or Cottoneye Joe.

So maybe there are some people who are truly, truly incapable of acting with any degree of extraversion, and articles like this expose a dimension of introvertedness which most of us never truly understand. But I think it's more likely that the average self-proclaimed introvert is just more comfortable with his or her introverted self, and is totally willing to declare this an immutable life fact
rather than work at the parts of socializing s/he's bad at and develop new ways of talking to people. Which is a shame, because one thing I realized was those extraverts? They're capable of the long introverted discussions too, even if they're a bit less comfortable starting off with them. Once you discover that the world is enriched significantly, and people become vastly more alluring and mysterious. The key, as almost always, is learning that everybody is as fascinating and complex as you are, and teaching yourself to listen to them rather than demanding that they pay attention to you.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:10 AM on November 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


Not being able to have my "alone time" means I start staring off into space, sucking down licorice Altoids like they're energy pills, tapping my fingers slowly, or rubbing my little pocket voodoo doll, or flicking my knife open and closed. Open and closed. Open and closed.

But no, don't mind me! Please, let me hear the story about how you and Jack got drunk and the c-c-c-cRAZY shit you did last Saturday yet again. Please.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:11 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is the author really describing introverts, or is he mistaking people with Aspergers for introverts?
posted by gjc at 8:19 AM on November 27, 2011


Well, yeah, you shouldn't worry about being polite, because you should be polite all the time.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:23 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Also I hate sports so I don't fit in with most penis bearing mammals. Base...ball? Is that the one where they step on the pillows?

Being introverted doesn't mean you should be antisocial. If you're with people who like baseball, you probably shouldn't insult them.


Well, or accept it as a silly joke rather than an insult, to avoid acting antisocial.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:25 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


We were, most of us, and throwing a few back.
posted by jonmc at 8:28 AM on November 27, 2011


I wonder how Ask vs Guess fits into this.

Also reading NickRussell's comment particularly this bit,

Imagine sitting chatting with someone, when you are joined by a third party obviously deep in grief. As they share their story, the extrovert will absorb what they say very quickly -- both content and body language -- and mirror it back to them in an accelerated conversation. Thus, context and depth may not be established, yet due to the fast iteration of thinking, chances are quite high that the extrovert and the grieving party will arrive at a common group of understanding, thus the extrovert will be said to have successfully connected with the individual.

whether being an extrovert (perceptually) is also a matter of socialization, over time, as we grow up but deep inside remain the dopamine sensitive introverts who ponder?
posted by infini at 8:29 AM on November 27, 2011


Don't know enough to know about the overstimulated-by-dopamine theories, but I recognized myself a lot in this.

And maybe there is something to the "overstimulation" thing -- a year or so ago, my mother observed of my 2-year-old niece that she preferred to hover behind her mother's skirts at first if there were a lot of people trying to say hi to her all at once, even if they were people she knew. "And her auntie EC was just like that when SHE was 2," Mom said. And I was similarly lingering in a corner and thinking to myself, "her auntie EC is STILL like that at 40."

It's just, a little too much all at once. Let us adjust, give us about 15 minutes and then NieceCallipygos will start wanting to read you her favorite book about the robin and EmpressCallipygos ends up in an animated conversation with CousinCallipygos about geneology or something. But that "too much to pay attention to all at once" feeling definitely makes me hang back a while, and that sounded very familiar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always wonder when reading articles about introversion how much of what we call "introversion" is in fact low-grade, persistent, social anxiety.

I'm not sure they're the same thing. I do find the introvert/extrovert distinction a useful one, and consider myself an introvert (in fact, on Myers-Briggs type tests its always my most one-sided trait). But I certainly wouldn't say I've got any social anxiety in any way, shape or form. I don't feel uncomfortable talking to strangers (if there's something to talk about). I don't feel particularly uncomfortable in crowds (though I don't particularly enjoy them), performing on stage, teaching in front of a lecture hall with 500 students...

The teenage daughter I mentioned upthread, on the other hand, is both more extroverted than I am, and suffers from genuine, diagnosed social anxiety. It's a tough combination--and exhausting on me at times--because she needs a lot of interaction, but the circle of people she trusts to interact with is quite narrow.
posted by drlith at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


These articles always remind me of the posts on Ask where people will say, my partner is so logical and rational, they get so mad when other people won't approach the world the right way, and everyone else says no, your partner is just an asshole.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:34 AM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sorry Empress, but as someone who has used the second part of your MeFi name in conversation, reading about a whole family reunion's worth of Callipygae has totally distracted me from your personal observations on introversion.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:37 AM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Honestly, part of the reason I married the wife is we can ride in a car for 8 hours in a comfortable silence and we can spend a day together in mostly comfortable silence. While "Congratulations, honey, you're not exhausting" isn't the greatest compliment, it is true.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:38 AM on November 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


I agree with all of the ten points as they describe my attitude towards others perfectly.

Many of the myths are things that have been said about me by friends or family members at one time or another and, being an introvert, I always just refuse to answer questions about why I am the way I am, now I can just point people to this post.

I am not involved in any social media, commenting on here is as close as I get. But here, I get to pick and choose what to comment about and who to engage with, so Metafilter is ideal for introverts.

I have about 4 great friends, plus my wife and my two kids. I don't really talk to my family (four sisters) unless there is something to say and they have gotten used to that over the years. I always say, and it's true, I would rather be at home by myself than anywhere in the world.

I am an introvert and I approve this post.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:42 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's also a good book out there called: Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.
posted by freakazoid at 8:47 AM on November 27, 2011


muddgirl, I once was recognized at a job for being "calm and collected under pressure." Mainly because I had to step up during an escalating series of events like "a stabbing" and "a child having a serious episode of distress/self-and-other-directed harming" and handle the situations on the ground.

My internal experience was of total chaos, loss of all critical thinking processes, fear of events far out of my control and far from predictable, of things going even more catastrophically wrong and experiencing nothing but reeling uncertainty and a cobbled-together decision tree based on having a couple of seconds to make a plan and execute it with no real time to consider all endgames. I felt the farthest from collected and reasonable that I can remember feeling. My decisions felt totally irrational and based on "JESUS GOD OKAY WE NEED TO KEEP PEOPLE SAFE NOW AND WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE UP WHAT TO DO TO GET THERE."

Apparently, this is not what came across to others. I don't know whose understanding of events is more objectively true, if such a thing exists. I can't measure or contrast my internal sensation against what they felt at the time. I can't even remember how they acted, because I was so focused on the internal freaking out/realization that I was probably going to be injured and that it would suck*/total discombobulation and the competing recognition that intervention had to happen before the situation deteriorated further.

It's not really an experience that lines up directly with a debate about introversion/extroversion, but that experience for me has always highlighted the divide between the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and who we we are at any particular time versus the stories we tell ourselves about the internal states of others in the same circumstances.

on preview: DisreputableDog, I'm sorry you have had many encounters with jackholes who haven't treated you well. There are a lot of people who act like jerks in the world, for whatever reason. My friends who tend to behave in more outgoing ways are not jackholes, though they make mistakes, just as the best of people do. They're quite intelligent in diverse ways, are far from monolithic in their interests, and they are pleasant and accommodating of me when I feel anxious or less-outgoing at a given time, even if they don't completely relate to how I interpret and interact with the world. Much as I try to accommodate them and their needs and requests that may not align perfectly with my preferences. Respect for others' needs is not something that I've found corresponds with introversion or extroversion.

The thing with less-socially-oriented people who act like jackholes is that by definition they're not around people as much. It becomes a bit easier to avoid encountering their suboptimal attitude towards and treatment of others. But there certainly are plenty of unpleasant people who also happen to be less-socially-oriented. Many of them are proud of that unpleasantness and their lack of regard for others' ways of being in the world.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:57 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


> From the link: "If the science behind the book is correct, 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."


> The neurological explanation for intro- and extroversion seemed a bit hand-wavy to me ...

Yeah. A bit. Broca's area is an actual part of the brain, but it's involved in motor coordination necessary for speech production, not the area "where a large portion of contemplation takes place". If the "messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system" actually did bypass it, that would mean extroverts talk less.

(Strokes frequently affect this area of brain, resulting in slurred speech or Broca's aphasia, so it's an area of the brain a lay person might know the name of.)

It's probably safe to assume the bits a adrenaline and dopamine are BS as well. I'm not even sure what "Extroverts also have a shorter pathway ... to the brain" is supposed to mean. Spinal cord?

See also: The Crockus and The seductive allure of neuroscience explanation (pdf).

(Sorry for the derail.)
posted by nangar at 9:03 AM on November 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


Being introverted really does not equal not caring what other people have to say or assuming most people are too stupid and boring to talk to. If you felt that way and now you don't, fantastic, but that wasn't introversion you needed to get over, it was probably just yourself. Being kind of an asshole is a completely separate phenomenon from what we're talking about.

Also, it's great for people to learn to leave their social comfort zones, but I don't understand the assumption, even by many people in this thread (where I would have expected more understanding), that introverts are the only people who have them and everybody else is only normal. My little sister is an extrovert, and has a need to be around other people that's just as basic, natural and strong as my need to be alone. It slowly disturbs and distresses her when she can't get together, the way it does me when I can't get away. Company feels like a relief to her, the way solitude is one to me. And we both like other people just fine and get along perfectly well with them - her with more at a time and more often, and me, less. I'm not sure what part of that needs fixing.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:04 AM on November 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


The man is a screenwriter, he writes well, I enjoyed reading it. Sure there were bits I disagreed with but it was nice to feel understood and appreciated for all that pondering.
posted by infini at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I'm more introverted than not but know plenty of people who are far more introverted than I am.

I think one lives in my basement. But I can't be certain, it's really hard to encounter him (her? this individual.) And it's not like I go out of my way to chat up strangers as it is.
posted by jfuller at 9:20 AM on November 27, 2011


In order for me to take these 10 myths seriously I need to know how they selected them from the pool of all available introversion myths.
posted by srboisvert at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2011


I liked the part about how extroverts get less blood to the brain, and by "liked" I mean I thought it sounded like total self-serving bullshit that still cracked me up because anyone who isn't an owwww!-guy or a wooooooo!-girl has certainly reflected bitterly upon how stupid all those fuckin', y'know, fun-having people are. But it's something I'm about as likely to take seriously as the evolutionary psychology articles that say that philandering guys can't help it because their balls are so huge and unfaithful women can't help it because they have so many orgasms they're, like, addicted to orgasms, man. Mmmhmmm.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


One other thing - introverts should marry extroverts. They do all the talking so you can relax in the corner.

Yes, absolutely. I'm as extroverted as they come, and I married a man who is medium-high on the introversion scale. I'm always the one who does the PTA meetings, who deals with the plumber, who calls for pizza. It's easy for me and I like it. He's the one who plans our vacations, who handles our household budget, who encourages us to spend time together at home.

One of my best friends is even more introverted than my husband is -- but HER husband is much, MUCH more introverted than she is. So she has to be the social one. It's hard for her and a constant source of stress. When she and I go out together, I try to be the one who handles the majority of the random social interaction; I'll flag down the waiter to say "Excuse me, my friend hasn't gotten her drink yet," that sort of thing. And when we went to a conference together, we spent the money on a suite to share so that she could be Alone if she needed to, and I had absolutely no problem going out and being social without her in the evening.

Extroversion is privileged in American culture, and I think that's where a lot of the "well, we introverts are thoughtful and smart!" BS comes from; it's easy to get defensive when there are a hundred acts of microaggression pointed at you a day. The waiter who says "Hi, folks, welcome to Shenanigans! Wow, it sure is some nasty weather out there today, huh? Have you guys been following the playoffs?" is only doing it because that either gets him more tips or because his boss is requiring it, but it can still make a person want to shank him in the throat, you know?
posted by KathrynT at 9:38 AM on November 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


The book "Introvert Power" has a great perspective on the topic. It's a very positive book and had a few ideas that really resonated for me.
posted by jade east at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2011


Well, I am emphatically an extrovert, although I might not seem as much so on MeFi. Sometimes some of you people somewhat scare me with your general smartness and achievements and skills and talents and general cooleosity.

In fact, I remember my ex-wife more than once telling me she envied my ability to happily engage in conversation with just about anyone.

And, if you don't like Shenanigan's, don't go. It's not like there's not a Prof. VJ Cornicopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium & Great American Steakery just down the street.
posted by Samizdata at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, Nthing the "recharge alone rather than with people" element, and it does get misunderstood, as in "Yes, I know you're that way, but we really like spending time together" (so why wouldn't you want more of it?).

But I can talk to almost anyone, at length, so long as it's one on one. Groups leave me cold. I don't like conversational one-upmanship, and I won't participate.

I also don't care for the tone of the piece, but I understand there's still a perceived need to bolster the regard for what some think of as an underdog group.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


jcreigh: I don't get the joke in the "Introvert walks into a bar" post on Diamond Geezer. Could someone explain it to me?

The answer is in the third comment at that post: "Is this mapping the collections of people inside and outside the pub door and how they group/interact with the introvert and each over the course of the evening. The upright stroke represents the door? The figures in bold indicate where the introvert is at any time...and would this be personal experience?"
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:52 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"The waiter who says 'Hi, folks, welcome to Shenanigans! Wow, it sure is some nasty weather out there today, huh? Have you guys been following the playoffs?' is only doing it because that either gets him more tips or because his boss is requiring it, but it can still make a person want to shank him in the throat, you know?"

It's funny that you mention that, what with my previous comment and my recent reacquaintance with an old friend of mine. We first met in 1986 when I trained him at a restaurant where we both waited tables. He's an extreme extrovert and easily the biggest-hearted, nicest person I've ever known. We became good friends then and after not having seen each other since 1991, he came to visit me a couple of months ago.

Anyway, it came up in conversation an old (mostly friendly) conflict we had about how we approached our job back then. He was always like the waiter you describe. Extremely talkative, funny, friendly. He would actually sit down with people. But this was fine-dining. At work, professionally, he annoyed the hell out of me (not when I interacted with him, but when I observed how he interacted with customers).

My whole thing was that I first of all aspired to be the consummate professional fine-dining waitperson. Secondly, "reading" the table was very important to me. Some people want you to be funny and interact with them. Other people want you to be silently efficient, invisible. Others want other things. To me, being a good waitperson was serving the customer in the manner that they preferred...within reasonable boundaries, of course. No way was I ever going to sit down at a table while working in a fine-dining restaurant.

But my friend, he treated everyone that hyper-friendly way. And even though it was inappropriate for fine-dining, he was rewarded for it because a lot of customers really liked him for it. That manager also found his style really annoying, but she pointed out that he got, by a very large margin, more personal requests from customers to be their waiter than anyone else. But my response to both she and my friend was that this was confirmation bias: what we weren't seeing was all the customers who were driven away from the restaurant by his behavior, the people who never came back.

Anyway, to be on-topic, I think this points out some of the problems with this oversimplifying and overgeneralizing of introversion/extroversion. While my friend is an extreme extrovert and gets along well with people, and many people love him, a lot of people dislike him and, more to the point, I think he's very below average in his ability to negotiate disparate social environments and interact with different people, differently.

Also, as I discuss above, while I'm an introvert and, like your husband and your friends, don't like to interact with strangers very much—I hate to answer the phone and to make calls, for example; and so when there's someone else to do it, they do so rather than me—it's also the case that if I end up doing these things, I'm very personable about it. But for me it's like being "on". And I don't want to be "on" unless there's a very good reason for it. When I do have to call a stranger on the phone for some reason, I'm always very friendly and personable. I make a deliberate effort at it. But that's the point—it's an effort. Not that I'm naturally unfriendly or whatever. But that it's important to me to be nice to people and so if I'm going to interact with someone, it's important to me to make a real effort at it. And I'm not always feeling energetic enough to do so. In contrast, I have the impression that you, and other extroverts, don't find it any sort of effort at all to be personable when you interact with those waiters or whomever. It's just what you do.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


A lof of people do conflate the introversion-extroversion scale with other qualities, like social anxiety or need for acceptance.

But I think that hurts, not helps.

As I said, I'm an extreme introvert. Always have been, and always expect to be. And I am very happy with that.

All that means, though, is that for optimal energy and performance, I need a lot of time by myself. And I do mean a lot. In a perfect world, I'd spend at least 12 hours a day not socializing, even at a low level. This is something I almost always have to explain to people so they don't misunderstand; and in recent years, it's become a bigger issue for me, as a result of some absolutely excruciating experiences with pronounced extroverts who just consistently left me feeling violated, socially, psychologically, even physically.

And at the heart of those experiences was always the perception that my introversion was some type of social anxiety or depression or some other transient and pathological condition. What I really needed them to understand was that it is not. This is me, happy and normal; and I have no need or desire to reform myself so I'm more like them.

I enjoy and seek out social interactions with people, and I've even been told I have good social skills. I'm not a cocktail party sort of person, I don't see the appeal of Facebook, and I can literally go for days without speaking to another human and not get lonely in any generic sense. But I love being around and socializing with people I care about, and I care about a lot of people. I just need more alone time to balance that out than most people do.

Take these two scenarios:

1. "I've been at work all day around people. I'm really not up to going out tonight."
2. "I haven't been out of the house all day. I really need to get out and see people tonight."

Can you even fathom someone telling person 2 that it would be good for them to stay home unless they had a very good reason? That'd seem rude, wouldn't it? Yet, people say it to person 1 all the time for no good reason. Virtual strangers will often happily tell you that it'd be "good for you" to go to a social event when you don't want to, as though 'not wanting to go to a party' were a disease that needs to be cured. It's not.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:06 AM on November 27, 2011 [43 favorites]


Standard extrovert advice for introverts: "Hey, why not trying being an extrovert?"
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:11 AM on November 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


at the heart of those experiences was always the perception that my introversion was some type of social anxiety or depression or some other transient and pathological condition. What I really needed them to understand was that it is not.

This. I cut those people out, pronto. They don't get it, and further interaction is going to be painful for everybody. For me, the rest is a mix of caring less about what other people think, and forming ties with those who do.

Making plans with a friend last week, she noted "I know you hate going out Friday nights" -- I do. It's the end of the week, and the beginning of well-earned optionally-alone time. And I want it. To myself. But I made an exception because I really enjoy time with this person, yet she knows I'll need to recharge from that time together anyway. She gets it. Lots still don't, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:16 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you know how you can tell if an engineer is an extrovert?

When he talks to you, he stares at your shoes.
posted by 4ster at 10:25 AM on November 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


I suspect people who claim that introversion is a natural, unfixable state.

Introversion is a natural, unfixable state. It's a personality type. Some people are energized by social interaction and some people are drained by it.

It's the other things that people try to fit under the umbrella of introversion-- social anxiety, agoraphobia, extreme shyness, lack of social graces-- that are changeable and fixable if one wants to address them rather than considering them part and parcel of their personality and identity.
posted by deanc at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry -- forming ties with those who do understand, that is.

on preview: yeah, deanc has it. The common element is the recharge, and it's not changeable. The rest varies among introverts, and is definitely changeable.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:31 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recently conducted my own experiment in the level of my introversion. I went for a four day trip with two of my best friends, staying in the same room. Turns out that my limit for non-stop interaction is 3 days; I survived the fourth by slipping away for a few minutes here and there, and by reminding myself it would all be over soon.

I then immediately followed this with a four week trip solo to a number of countries where I don't speak the language. Turns out, I need a good conversation in English roughly every week. Like clockwork, by day 5 or 6 I would start lingering in the common room of the hostel, and start engaging with people rather than going straight to my room and reading.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Introversion is a natural, unfixable state. It's a personality type. Some people are energized by social interaction and some people are drained by it. <

Yes. I never thought of it the way it’s laid out in this article, but it’s mostly true and pretty interesting. Except for the part about introverts being smarter and cooler.

When I was younger I was constantly told "I thought you were a stuck up asshole when I first met you". I kind of was. I ended up in a job where I had to interact with people, not the general public (that would be too much), but several people in a room all day. I got good at it and learned some social skills. I’m pretty good with people now and like interacting with people in small doses.

Socializing is like work or exercising for me. I still spend weeks not talking to anyone but my introverted wife. I now realize I occasionally need to get out and deal with people, it’s good for me, but I’m still trying to convince the Mrs. I’m always saying "you need to get out more".
posted by bongo_x at 10:54 AM on November 27, 2011


One odd thing I've discovered is that everyone I talk to - and here I mean people who are happily and eagerly engaging everyone who walks past their desk in chatty conversation about shopping and holidays and whatnot - claims to be an introvert. It's like people read "introvert" as "intelligent" and are reluctant to claim extroversion.

See "It, Faking."

It's entirely possible for an actual, bona fide, real-ass introvert to appreciate the many benefits of extroversion and simply act like an extrovert in order to reap said benefits. They may even overcompensate.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:56 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I identify and test introvert, I found the article horoscopy.

I am an actor, in the sense that I make a small second income from appearances on stage and film.

I'd say that a greater percentage of actors/performers are introverted than the general population - I'd guess about 55% vs. the 25% in genpop. So, the acting model of getting through the introvert day may be apt.

However, it's not something I do in everyday, office/friendship, non-acting life, though. I'd be totally exhausted.

I'm conflicted - I can see how an introvert could act through their day, but I can also see how that is just impossible advice for those who don't love their job.
posted by rainbaby at 11:23 AM on November 27, 2011


My favorite vacations have involved going on extended solo camping trips to remote places, but I rarely discuss this due to the level of incredulity, and sometimes utter hostility, in others' reactions. It is assumed that something is very, very wrong with a person who likes to be alone, as others have noted above, and that this is something that needs to be fixed. Which is tiresome and makes me yearn for solitude all the more.

Interesting article, generalizations aside, and seemed pretty accurate to this introvert.

Given that we're all presumably interacting with MeFi alone, it's unsurprising that there are so many fellow introverts here. Unsurprising and oddly comforting.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Introverts need more time alone to recharge" and "extroverts need more time with people to recharge" seems to be the only definition that makes sense, because everything else is too variable. I don't think it's useful to make sweeping generalizations about intelligence or social skills or caring about others, for either group.

I'm conflicted - I can see how an introvert could act through their day, but I can also see how that is just impossible advice for those who don't love their job.

Maybe this is the key. I could relate very well to what GenjiAndProust said about having been an introverted child who has developed a more extroverted persona to deal with work and social situations. And I don't mind doing it because I really like my job and find it meaningful, and I'm not on the extreme end of the introvert scale. Otherwise, it would not be sustainable day in and day out.

Now, although my job requires me to interact with people all day long and be in social situations where I am personable and friendly and can do small talk and chitchat, I need to have time at home to recharge. I like people and I do get something out of being social--but for limited periods, especially in large groups. In small groups with good friends, it's more enjoyable.

One odd thing I've discovered is that everyone I talk to - and here I mean people who are happily and eagerly engaging everyone who walks past their desk in chatty conversation about shopping and holidays and whatnot - claims to be an introvert. It's like people read "introvert" as "intelligent" and are reluctant to claim extroversion.

It's possible that the holidays are the only time of year when there is just SO MUCH expectation and occasion to socialize that even extroverts get overwhelmed and start wishing for alone time. Well, and of course as I was just saying above, there are probably a few introverts who put on an extroverted face at work.

My favorite vacations have involved going on extended solo camping trips to remote places, but I rarely discuss this due to the level of incredulity, and sometimes utter hostility, in others' reactions. It is assumed that something is very, very wrong with a person who likes to be alone, as others have noted above, and that this is something that needs to be fixed.

I went on a month-long solo trip to various cities in North America and Europe, and while no one expressed hostility, many people were surprised and a little concerned that I'd be doing this by myself. I was surprised, in turn, because in every city I would either be attending a conference and/or meetup, or visiting friends or family, so to me that was not particularly isolating at all. But I did spend probably over 50% of my time totally alone and I just loved it. I found it totally refreshing and recharging.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:11 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best introverts, are the ones who for whatever reason haven't fully realized they're introverts, and so they think they can sort of take on the world without doing the recharging and introspection and solitude work, that introverts need as a matter of emotional and psychological maintenance, and keeping themselves in healthy mettle, because all sorts of mayhem, hi-jinks, fisticuffs, misunderstandings, confrontations, miscommunications, impolitic actions, rude gestures, job firings, sexual awkwardness, romantic slapstick and all sorts of fun is in the card for those folks.

I think introverts to over-extend themselves into the external world without realizing it all the time. It's very entertaining, unless of course your the one who's done the over-extending of your introverted self. That's no fun.
posted by Skygazer at 12:27 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a bipolar introvert. You can tell when I'm going manic because I get loud and chatty. I'm lucky, I guess, since I don't have to start blowing my kids' college fund at the craps table for people to notice I've gone off the rails.

I was at a party last night and it was excruciating. My husband and I got separated and I ended up on the empty sun porch just being. A quiet man joined me and we discussed quiet things for a while. My friend, the hostess, was upset when we left early, complaining that she hadn't gotten a chance to talk to me all night. There were 50 people in her house, of course she hadn't gotten to talk to me....I was hiding from all of the other people!
posted by Biblio at 12:28 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Boy, you can sure tell who the extroverts are in this thread. Get on with it you adrenaline powered windbags, some of us have hobbies.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:34 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Classic introvert here myself, but this made me want to cheer:

The key, as almost always, is learning that everybody is as fascinating and complex as you are, and teaching yourself to listen to them rather than demanding that they pay attention to you.

It's possible to learn extroverted ways of relating to people. I've practiced it at work for years now, and have found that it's made a huge difference in terms of getting along with people, and even, in many cases, finding that it's made me likeable. Go figure. And it hasn't cut into my books/music/leave me alone in my interior world fixation at all. I get a frisson of recognition when I read articles about introversion, but the whole "Understand me, inferior beings" thing is annoying.
posted by jokeefe at 12:34 PM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


105 comments? You introverts never shut up.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on November 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


jonmc: it's because they actually have a lot to say, they just don't like to hear themselves talk.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:04 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think introverts to over-extend themselves into the external world without realizing it all the time. It's very entertaining, unless of course your the one who's done the over-extending of your introverted self. That's no fun.

I can be in the best company, and as hopped up on coffee as I can get (which helps), and if the evening goes on too long I just shut down. Completely. Took a long time to figure out the balance. Hell, I'm still figuring out the balance. Actually, I've recently gone the other way and am playing the hermit. But I have no worries about it becoming unhealthy. It's fucking awesome to be honest, and I feel great. But I had to let go trying to explain it to anybody.

But I don't know about "the best introverts" not having embraced it yet, even in a half-jokey "best = entertaining" way. If I can't get away from people for an extended period, I get irritable, and then possibly hostile. That's not entertaining for anybody. I recently came into possession of a window office at work (albeit temporarily) and while I love the natural light and view, just being in view all the time is enough for me to want to climb under my desk for awhile.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's nothing that can't be made into a pissing match, is there?
posted by Summer at 1:26 PM on November 27, 2011


Opposite of pissing match, ie: "I bet you can relate to this."
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:28 PM on November 27, 2011


jonmc: "105 comments? You introverts never shut up."

Well it did say, if you ask them something ...
posted by feelinglistless at 1:42 PM on November 27, 2011


Agnostic on the merits of the article otherwise, but the "neuroscience" in it is a load of horseshit.
posted by myeviltwin at 1:43 PM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I remember my ex-wife more than once telling me she envied my ability to happily engage in conversation with just about anyone.

JESUS FUCK YES.

The linked article, and the Introvert Advantage, are very rah-rah-being-an-introvert-is-great.

Well no; quite often it's not. You're at a disadvantage in social situations; making casual connections is difficult and draining. But if you don't make an effort to be ON -- as extroverts here have oh-so-helpfully suggested you do -- then you risk being perceived as standoffish or uninterested or asocial.

So yeah, damn right I envy you extroverted social chameleons. You make chitchat appear so effortless and easy; but for me it's not, goddamnit, it's not, and if you need me to fake it for you at a party or a presentation I can do it for a while and be fairly convincing and probably enjoy it for a while. BUT it's going to WIPE ME OUT and if I don't get some quiet time to recharge I'm going to get increasingly WITHDRAWN and TIRED and SNAPPY and I wish you'd understand that oh god I wish you'd understand that.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:20 PM on November 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


Myth # 11 -- Introverts are sometimes annoying.

No, that''s probably true. That said, extroverts are invariably annoying.
posted by DU at 2:26 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm conflicted - I can see how an introvert could act through their day, but I can also see how that is just impossible advice for those who don't love their job.

I wouldn't say I love my job, but it's a job and I'm decent at it and it pays the bills. But acting through the day is exhausting and sometimes I feel like if I have to talk about the weather one more time, I'm going to strangle someone. But I realize it's like grooming in the animal world: no one really cares what I think about the weather, but they sure seem to care if I don't talk about they weather.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 2:56 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Naw, I figured it all out. (Heh, yeah, right.)

If one assumes the Sims needs bar as the measure of social/physical requirements, this is what I just figured out about myself. For explaining purposes, I usually rate dead center on introvert/extrovert tests, and I'm usually pretty good at talking to just about anybody.

The secret is that there are two different bars. One's labeled "Alone Time" and the other one is "People Time."

The People Time bar can go up or down when you're with other people. Some people are draining for various reasons and with various speeds. I love my relatives, but I really have to watch what I say around them. I also get little back from them in the way of new ideas. I'm happy to hang out with them and I love them, but they slowly drain the bar. Then there are people who are genuinely jerks, and just a little bit of interaction with them drains the bar right quickly. Then there are friends, who are insightful and fun. You can admit things to them, bounce ideas off of them, hear funny stories from their lives. They recharge the bar. Too many negative interactions leaves me feeling crappy about the world, but then an evening full of buddies leaves me walking in the clouds.

The Alone Time bar has little to do with other people, except in that if someone else is around, the bar drains slowly. I was on a work trip with some truly fond friends a few weeks ago, and despite the fact that they were interesting people who always recharge my People Time bar, my Alone Time bar was at the bottom of the scale. No matter how awesome and funny and smart they were (and they were), nothing else could get in, 'cause my Alone Time bar was bottoming out. And I think some people's Alone Time bars drain faster than others, which makes them an official Introvert.

But people don't have to be bad people to drain the People Time bar. They can be nothing at all like you, they can be just new people that it takes effort to draw out, they can be good friends who just happen to be having a bad time of things. They'll drain your bar. But given enough positive interactions otherwise, you can make up for it.

I liked it, though, as soon as I started thinking of it as two completely separate qualities that both just happened to involve other people in some way. My People Time bar can be full to exploding, but if I haven't had a bunch of quiet hours reading or watching old Doctor Who episodes, I'm still not going to feel totally okay.
posted by lauranesson at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm an introvert. Here's how how it works for me, I can't vouch for anyone else: I need alone time to recharge because I find the world so stimulating. That description is neither positive or negative, it just is. When I am talking to someone in a crowded room, it's hard to concentrate on just them because there's so much visual, audio, mental and social stimulation. Small talk makes it worse because I find it generally boring and if I hear a more interesting conversation going on in the background or in my head, I might start tuning into that and then have to struggle to focus on the person in front of me. This gets exhausting after a while. My mind needs something to chew on about 90% of the time, otherwise it gets bored and starts devising more interesting things. This use to make me seem aloof and cold, but I learned to channel it into working the room until I need another introvert and then we talk nerdy while everyone else thinks "He's nice".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:17 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, i dated an extrovert once. She couldn't stand to be alone at home. If she was, she'd have to turn on all the lights in the house and then call someone on the phone. Sometimes, she just had a tv or radio going in the background, just to avoid it being quiet.

I inadvertly scared the crap out of her many a time because I was being quiet or wanted alone time.Yeah, that 'caused huge fights, wanting to be alone. Extroverts seem to have trouble understanding that, they think it's a fate worth than death. Me, I was all WHOO HOO, time to read! It's strange how differently the human mind can work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:36 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The author isn't an introvert, he just has a hard time fitting his ego into the same room as other people.
posted by Kwine at 4:11 PM on November 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think I became a teacher and a performer (musician, occasional actor) as therapy for my natural introversion. (When I was a child, I would spend many hours in the woods, alone and happy, and later, with books, art and music. I always had friends, though, as does almost everyone!)
posted by kozad at 4:22 PM on November 27, 2011


I recall the same or an extremely similar article being posted several months ago and being deleted by a mod.
posted by aesacus at 4:44 PM on November 27, 2011


The nutshell description (of myself) that I have used for decades, only half-jokingly, is a paraphrase from the mostly-forgotten movie Barfly -- "I don't hate people, I just feel better when they're not around."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:05 PM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jobs for introverts.
posted by binturong at 6:26 PM on November 27, 2011


It's OK to be introverted, but trying to ascribe special snoflakiness to it suggests an ego the size of an elephant. I imagine there are as many dull, stupid introverts as there are dull, stupid extroverts.
posted by maxwelton at 6:29 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a hard time separating being introverted and being "painfully shy". I don't mind people at all--and I can chat for days, but the other party has to be the one to start the conversation. Even if I think of something that we might have in common that would be a good discussion, I'm still reluctant to speak until they do. If they don't, then I usually lose the chance. I can only talk to close friends or people I'm in forced contact with often.

As others have said, I envy the ability to small-talk.
posted by tatma at 6:32 PM on November 27, 2011


I am flabbergasted and utterly ashamed that, apparently, I've been spelling "extraversion" and "extravert" wrongly for as long as I can remember.

And it even makes sense! Extra-vert! Who ever heard of an extro-anything? No one who uses the English language properly, that's who. Oh, how this stings.
posted by nicodine at 6:35 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good to see that world is still so predictable. Death, taxes and the misuse of the word "antisocial".
posted by parrot_person at 6:48 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


nicodine -- as Wikipedia notes, both spellings are okay.
posted by forza at 6:57 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm of two minds on this whole introvert/extrovert thing. It's another 'duality' thing (good/bad, true/false ...) that is too simplistic.

It may be a lot like the Kinsey scale - many people will identify with one end or the other but, truth be told, the great majority is found in the middle 2/3.

Time spent away from others helps us to appreciate them more. Somehow it seems to subdue the ever-flowing subsurface stream of pettiness. Exchanging only substantial discoveries, if any, then drifting apart is a virtue that need not be limited only to Mountain Wo/Men.
posted by Twang at 7:24 PM on November 27, 2011


The secret is that there are two different bars. One's labeled "Alone Time" and the other one is "People Time."


I totally misread this as being about drinking establishments. (And I was picturing my favorite Alone Time bar in a place I used to live in.)
posted by madcaptenor at 7:53 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Big Five wet blanketeer* here:

Introversion/extraversion is not binary or even bimodal. Like all of the Big Five traits, it's a normally-distributed continuum.

This dimension has nothing to do with creativity or IQ. For that, you're looking for Openness to experience.

This dimension also has nothing to do with anxiety. For that, you're looking for Neuroticism.

*I trot out the Big Five in threads like these because it's supported by studies and evidence and stuff, rather than just anecdotes or Jungian bullshitting.
posted by Jpfed at 8:33 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ivan's comment here:
But my friend, he treated everyone that hyper-friendly way. And even though it was inappropriate for fine-dining, he was rewarded for it because a lot of customers really liked him for it. That manager also found his style really annoying, but she pointed out that he got, by a very large margin, more personal requests from customers to be their waiter than anyone else. But my response to both she and my friend was that this was confirmation bias: what we weren't seeing was all the customers who were driven away from the restaurant by his behavior, the people who never came back.


...is spot on. I cannot tell you how many places I have stopped patronizing simply because the sweet, kind, perfectly nice people who worked there wouldn't stop being overly chatty.

I stopped going to the gas station across the street from my house because the gentlemen who worked there were too chatty and I felt hunted every time I wanted to buy a soda. I stopped going to my favorite place for bagels because the woman behind the counter got flirty and even though I found her very attractive and I was single, all I wanted from that interaction was a bagel. I stopped going to several of my favorite restaurants because the friendly owners liked to slide into my booth and chat. I adored them, I really did, and would have socialized with them at parties or gone to their homes. But I wanted to EAT, and read, not talk. Eating, in the context of a busy day, is when I get to think.

Also, I hate my pharmacy, because the owners situate the register by the door, always have two salespeople on duty, one to corner you and one to stand behind the register, and this is all before you can get back to the actual pharmacy counter, the only place you are going to buy anything. I go in at least twice a week, and every time I'm followed or blocked by a salesperson who says "Can I help you?" when all they can do to "help me" is sell me some overpriced natural makeup or woo-woo candles or tea. Unfortunately it's the only non-chain pharmacy near me, so I patronize it and grit my teeth.

"Reading" a customer, as Ivan so aptly phrased it, is an under-utilized and desperately needed skill. Not everyone wants the same thing, and most times I realize that if I complained I'd come off as a dick. So I don't complain, I just don't come back.
posted by thelastcamel at 9:16 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Halfway through this thread I fast-scrolled down here because I had encountered at least a dozen comments surmising that self-identified introversion is likely to be an excuse for social anxiety and/or laziness in manners and socializing.

It's taking every ounce of self-control for me not to say "FUCK THE LOT OF YOU", so I'll do so indirectly as I did just now.

Introversion is real. North American culture rewards extroversion and punishes introverts. Introverts are pathologized not only by extroverts but also by Stockholm-syndromed (aka "cured" or "reformed") introverts. (Hello, MetaFilter.)

I am an introvert who is good at socializing, and I want to point out that some of us upthread have seriously failed to consider the implications of what we are saying and the result is pure, unadulterated suck.

Yes, the 10 Myths of Introverts post overcompensates in ways that seem self-absorbed and self-adoring. It's almost as if the piece were written by an introvert who enjoys his own company and has high (if somewhat reactionary and inflated) opinion of himself.

But even worse are those of us who trivialize introversion as a failure to socialize properly.
posted by mistersquid at 10:09 PM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reading the updated comments to this discussion, it really is fascinating. Mistersquid's last comment really resonated:
self-identified introversion is likely to be an excuse for social anxiety and/or laziness in manners and socializing.
When we looked at this earlier in Psychological study, there was a strong assumption that the "downtime" and "need to recharge" mentioned by many in this discussion are an introverted trait. Indeed, that is proposed continually by both experts and individuals alike. And there is a point at which it makes sense. If we consider the extrovert to be reactive and the introvert to be thinking, then the introvert's long brain pathways will demand more energy to generate attention during similar interactions, thus the introvert will be said to be 'tired' by social activity.

Yet, when looking at only children, for example, only children often take more alone time than those children from families with siblings. In fact, adult only children say they 'need' alone time to process things -- to understand the world. Perhaps it's a similar sentiment reflected by Homeboy Trouble above.

Thus, upon first glance, onlys could say to be introverts, as they desire/require time and space away from people. In fact, onlys will often say that they can recognise other onlys by a variety of factors -- comfort across large spans of ages, high independence, need for alone time. However only children are not de facto introverts. Many are actually extroverted. When discussing this with an only friend, she said something like:

"I love people, I am definitely an extrovert. But, I like my alone time because just as time spent with people is an asset, it's also a liability. When you're with people, you have to take their desires into account. I'm not an introvert, I'm just selfish sometimes. I want to do what I want to do, without having to take someone else's wants into account. So I'm not an introvert. Maybe I'm a bitch, but I'm not an introvert."

And I found that fascinating, because here we have 1) only children, 2) who are extroverts, 3) who choose to spend a lot of time alone, 4) because it's more efficient.

That inspires a memory of coursework around the MBTI type factor test. (ENTP and all that). The point made about the first diagnostic -- introvert versus extrovert -- is not social orientation. It is technically 'introverted attention' versus 'extroverted attention'. Perhaps best defined as 'caring about your own thoughts first' or 'caring about other's thoughts first'.

Because it is very possible to have Introverted attention, combined with an S, an F, and J. An ISFJ will have introverted attention -- meaning they focus on their own thoughts and values -- but will also be very social, living in a Sensing world that they relate to with Feelings and strong Judgements of what is positive and what is negative.

Similarly, ENFJ (extroverted intuitive feeling judgers) have very strong extroverted attentions and external value systems, yet the combination of intuition and feeling can literally overwhelm the ENFJ, thus requiring significant downtime to recharge. This was echoed by Ivan Fyodorovich above.

And I think it's important that we recognise what's gone on here is a demonstration that the words 'introvert' and 'extrovert' are both highly charged, poorly defined, and largely miss the target of encapsulating the average person. Hence why the four factor typology results in sixteen classifications -- and THAT is considered to be a relatively blunt instrument.

In this post alone, we have an extroverted only child that likes spending time alone because she finds it more dynamic, an example of an introverted attention that loves people, and an example of extroverted attention types that require substantial downtime.

And behold, we're right bat to Mistersquid's comment about social anxiety. It occurs that we may be talking about 'attachment style' in addition to 'attention focus'. George Kohlrieser's phenomenal Hostage at the Table looks deeply at attachment styles -- which are more specific evaluations of social security versus social anxiety.

And I just mentioned this because if we consider an extrovert with social anxiety, that person may be outgoing but will exhibit trouble with social behaviour. Where as if we consider an introvert with social security, that person will most likely have very fluid social behaviour.

And if we keep in mind that the person writing the original post in the topic -- a screenwriter -- perhaps Mistersquid is spot-on, in that indeed that person may be either introverted or extroverted, but regardless, they have issues socialising, which speaks more to the point of social anxiety than social security.

And if we consider introversion and extroversion to be relatively intrinsic brain structures, social anxiety and social security are almost de facto nurtured traits. Thus, whilst one may not be able to change their level of extroversion or introversion (an assertion I find problematic), one can certainly learn to move from a place of social anxiety to a place of social security. For deeper insight into that, Kohlreiser's secure bases discussion is a great starting point.
posted by nickrussell at 12:55 AM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


And this as well: http://www.moorea-seal.com/2011/06/i-am-introvert.html
posted by TrinsicWS at 2:38 AM on November 28, 2011


nickrussell, I'm sorry I don't have time to go into all of the ways I disagree with your comments in this thread, but I must note my disagreement. You are making some pretty out-there claims without evidence.

To show your claim that extraversion co-occurred with "short pathways" you would want to demonstrate that reaction time was correlated with extraversion, which I don't believe anyone has demonstrated (but if you have a cite, I'd be glad to hear it).

The idea that extraverts seek agreement rather than innovation? That ignores findings that extraversion is independent from agreeableness. The closest proxy I have for innovation, Openness to Experience, is also empirically independent from extraversion.

The idea that introverts get more blood to the brain than extraverts is so ridiculous on its face that it requires a cite.

Dopamine is the reward chemical for interacting with the external world. It's provided to reward provision of food, water, sex, and the basic biological needs.


This is incorrect. Dopamine is also released when reward is anticipated, not just acquired. It is also released in relation to the fulfillment or anticipated fulfillment of desires that are not basic biological needs.

The MBTI is not taken seriously in the psychology research community. It is a big hit in business, I suppose. Psychology researchers prefer the Big Five, Cattell's 16PF, Eysenck's three factor model, etc.
posted by Jpfed at 4:43 AM on November 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's taking every ounce of self-control for me not to say "FUCK THE LOT OF YOU", so I'll do so indirectly as I did just now.

I totally get where you're coming from and understand the feeling. But one of things I've learned is quit caring so much about what other people think of the term introvert. You are who you are and as long as you're not hurting anyone else, no one should really give a shit. Most people would agree that, you're probably just hearing, in this thread, half thought out comments, probably made by gibbering extroverts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:44 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You are making some pretty out-there claims without evidence."

Yes, this. I'm aware that it's difficult for more uninformed people to evaluate authoritative-seeming assertions, but a lot of what he's written should set off some alarms. I think it's unfortunate that the comment has been sidebarred, but what are you gonna do? People have to learn to evaluate claims on the internet critically. A good rule-of-thumb, though, is that any simple and yet comprehensive explanation of human personality and behavior is almost certainly BS and someone, somewhere, wants to sell you something on the basis of your acceptance of this explanation. It's true with absurdly ambitious generalizations about introversion/extroversion; and the linked post suffers from it. In that case, the author is trying to sell you on his own self-image and values.

"The MBTI is not taken seriously in the psychology research community. It is a big hit in business, I suppose."

Yeah. It's very popular but not very supported by evidence. Nevertheless, I still like it because we live in a world where people accept astrology as a personality predictor and, given that benchmark, MB is pretty good.

But, for anyone who cares, it is the case that the only personality typology that has any strong confirmation in science is the Big 5.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:34 AM on November 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am flabbergasted and utterly ashamed that, apparently, I've been spelling "extraversion" and "extravert" wrongly for as long as I can remember.

It's simple:

*Introverts keep their vert on the inside
*Extroverts keep their vert on theoutside
*Extraverts have so much vert, wherever they try to keep it it just sprays out everywehere.

Honestly, when you see an extravert coming, you might as well put down the plastic sheeting; there's gonna be vert all over.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:39 AM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


@Jpfed.
nickrussell, I'm sorry I don't have time to go into all of the ways I disagree with your comments in this thread, but I must note my disagreement. You are making some pretty out-there claims without evidence.
It's ok, what you have below is representative and I will respond in kind. Most of what you seek is available in the top results of google, as well as in the Introvert's Advantage. So perhaps before saying that 1) my claims and unsupported, and 2) you do not have adequate time to prove them, you could take a bit of time to get your ducks in a row. Just a courtesy that is common... in business. Perhaps not in academic research. ;)

Although I would like to note how I began all of my chat...
It's been half a decade since I last looked at this vein of research and thinking, so apologise if my cleaver is dull and the butchering imprecise.
1)
To show your claim that extraversion co-occurred with "short pathways" you would want to demonstrate that reaction time was correlated with extraversion, which I don't believe anyone has demonstrated (but if you have a cite, I'd be glad to hear it).
[Harvard, 2000] [Google results]

2)
The idea that extraverts seek agreement rather than innovation? That ignores findings that extraversion is independent from agreeableness. The closest proxy I have for innovation, Openness to Experience, is also empirically independent from extraversion.
[Boston Globe, 2011]

3)
The idea that introverts get more blood to the brain than extraverts is so ridiculous on its face that it requires a cite.
[The Journal of Neuroscience] [Google]

4)
Dopamine is the reward chemical for interacting with the external world. It's provided to reward provision of food, water, sex, and the basic biological needs.

This is incorrect. Dopamine is also released when reward is anticipated, not just acquired. It is also released in relation to the fulfillment or anticipated fulfillment of desires that are not basic biological needs.
[NYU]

It's a link to a page on meth, actually, because I could not find any psychology 101 material to support the point that dopamine is released when needs are satisfied. Granted, I am not sure of your point here (classical v. operant conditioning, yes?) because it seems my error was in not expanding dopamine to include anticipation or non basic needs? My point is not to teach a class here, mate, it was to answer a question that another member posted about introversion and extroversion. Not dopamine's role in human behaviour.

5)
The MBTI is not taken seriously in the psychology research community. It is a big hit in business, I suppose. Psychology researchers prefer the Big Five, Cattell's 16PF, Eysenck's three factor model, etc.
[Toastmasters International]

Again, I was not writing a post to address the 'psychology research community'. Those are all wonderful instruments, I agree, however I believe that more people know of the MBTI. Which I also said was a blunt instrument.

In fact, I now find your comment a bit mean-spirited. That took ten minutes to put together, thus I wonder if your point was to convey knowledge to the community or to be 'right'.
posted by nickrussell at 6:38 AM on November 28, 2011


Seriously? Wow. Just wow.
I'm aware that it's difficult for more uninformed people to evaluate authoritative-seeming assertions, but a lot of what he's written should set off some alarms. I think it's unfortunate that the comment has been sidebarred, but what are you gonna do? People have to learn to evaluate claims on the internet critically. A good rule-of-thumb, though, is that any simple and yet comprehensive explanation of human personality and behavior is almost certainly BS and someone, somewhere, wants to sell you something on the basis of your acceptance of this explanation. It's true with absurdly ambitious generalizations about introversion/extroversion
Rather than attack me, correct what you find to be in error, man!

In this paragraph, you call me several charged words, when I clearly said that I had not studied these topics for some time. I enjoy metafilter because it's a community of people helping each other discover the world. It's not a psychological research conference. As much fun as those are, this is laymen chatting to laymen, with the occasional joy of hearing from a true expert.

Please contribute and stop representing archetype ASSH. I am completely confused at why you and other dodgy chap will spend time tearing me down on this BUT NOT spend time adding to the conversation!
posted by nickrussell at 6:47 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Introverts having slower brain pathways makes so much sense to me. I can't count the number of times someone has said to me: "blah blah blah car blah blah blah blah blah yesterday?" and I say "huh?" and they chuckle and say "never mind." I still haven't figured out what they were trying to say because they were talking so fast.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:13 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am completely confused at why you and other dodgy chap will spend time tearing me down on this BUT NOT spend time adding to the conversation!"

People always make this argument. It's not the skeptic's job to present alternative assertions, nor even to comprehensively rebut the assertions they find dodgy.

And even if we were to do so, it would only go the way that your engagement with Jpfed is likely to go, which I don't think will be productive.

"In this paragraph, you call me several charged words, when I clearly said that I had not studied these topics for some time."

I don't think I "called you several charged words". I said that I think a lot of what you wrote should set off alarms. Things I write should set off people's alarms, too, sometimes. It's very easy to write authoritatively far beyond one's actual expertise. It's a disease of the Internet, unfortunately. Is all or most of what you wrote a "simple and yet comprehensive explanation of human personality and behavior", which, if it is, I asserted would "almost certainly" be "BS"? No, not all. Just some parts of it. Did I claim that you, yourself, is trying to sell something? Not really. I said that someone, somewhere probably is in these cases. And I specifically called out the writer of the linked post, who you also criticized for the same reasons.

The problem with all this is that, in general, the science of the biology of personality and behavior is crap. It just is. What real science there is, is very preliminary and speculative. This is exactly the problem with EP. It's not (in my opinion, others will disagree strongly) that the underlying theoretical structure of the field is unsound, it's the combination of the fact that the science that's being done is preliminary, the research is often poorly designed and statistically confused, a lot of this sort of research is funded and performed by people with very suspect ideological biases, and, lastly and most importantly, it's inevitably fed to the general public in extremely misleading ways.

So it unfortunately blends smoothly from actual science all the way into superstitious self-help crap. Citations by themselves are not trustworthy in this context because even the established science is not very trustworthy.

I don't doubt that each individual assertion you made has some basis in research science, somewhere and somehow. But you write all those assertions in an entirely unqualified style that makes them appear to readers who don't know any better to be assertions about personality and behavior that are far, far more sweeping and reductive than the science you have in mind can support. And you string one right after another, accumulating about thirty. Taken together, they form a view of (one aspect of) the biology of personality that has the strong gloss of authority and erudition that seems to explain in fundamental ways some key aspects of human personality and behavior. That's just way, way too ambitious. That's the stuff of bad pop-science books written by non-scientists which play up one especially attractive theory-of-the-moment to explain more than it can so that it appeals to naive readers.

In other words, there's a good reason why your comment was sidebarred. You're giving people exactly what they want; which isn't good and responsible science reporting (which, I think, even those of us who are scientifically literate writing publicly but informally should feel obligated to attempt) but is appealing in the same way that Freud and Jung are, just to pick two examples, yet with supposed scientific underpinnings.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:20 AM on November 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Thank you for your comment. I agree with a lot of what you have said here and will take it on board.

Cheers.
posted by nickrussell at 7:39 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you for being so gracious about it.

I didn't intend to insult you, although it should have been obvious to me that you would be. If your comment had been complete pseudoscience BS, but apparently responsible and authoritative, then I would have written something pretty scathing and hostile immediately after you wrote it. I didn't do that because I was ambivalent. As I just wrote, I don't doubt that what you wrote has some basis in science. But I felt that you went much, much further than you ought to have and that it will mislead many readers. Because I was ambivalent, and I don't really enjoy online conflict, I didn't express my concerns.

But I got more uncomfortable when I saw it was sidebarred. Yet I still didn't say anything. So when someone else decided to do so, it was kind of a relief to me and I (probably unwisely) jumped on the bandwagon of expressing skepticism.

I certainly have less formal education in this field than you do (zero, actually, is the amount) and I suspect that what I've learned on my own is also less than you know. I'm not equipped to either rebut your assertions one-by-one, nor especially to present alternatives. However, the thing is that I'm generally well-educated in science, formally very well-educated in the history and philosophy of science, I'm almost fifty years old and I've spent all but a few years of my life avidly reading and learning about almost all the science I can get my greedy little hands on. I shouldn't be claiming to be some general science expert—there are other people even more qualified than me for that self-label. But what I can comfortably claim is a strong familiarity with a layperson's grasp of the general state of the established science in the fields I follow—which includes those involving the biology of cognition, personality, and behavior—and, most particularly, I have a long and deep interest in what we might call "Bad Science" and especially crappy science journalism. So I do think I can be relied upon to recognize a generally dodgy argument built upon numerous dodgy assertions in a subject with which I have some familiarity. That's what I saw in your comments—not mendacity, not indisputable incompetence. Just a moderately strong overreaching most likely brought on by an excess of enthusiasm.

I'm sorry that I didn't make that more clear.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:59 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


To show your claim that extraversion co-occurred with "short pathways" you would want to demonstrate that reaction time was correlated with extraversion, which I don't believe anyone has demonstrated (but if you have a cite, I'd be glad to hear it).

[Harvard, 2000] [Google results]


I'm not going to spend a lot of time deconstructing the larger issue, though I like others was a little depressed to see this comment sidebarred. (No offense nickrussel, Ivan Fyodorovich put the reasons much more eloquently than I can so I won't go into it.) But I will take a stab at just this one citation.

First of all, I'm going to differ from jpfed. Reaction times alone can't show that there are "long pathways" (or even "slow pathways" or whatever) for introverts. There are all sorts of explanation times for slow reaction times, hell, in this study the executive control module (e.g. the prefrontal cortex) could be playing tetris in the background for all we know. But a more plausible one might be simply some kind of attention load. What would it take to substantiate a claim like the short pathways one? I'm not really sure, but maybe some kind of MEG study that showed timings of activation correlated with the behavioral experiment. But I'm not sure it would have good enough spatial resolution. This study used a standard, purely behavioral memory task that has been around since the 70s. Making truly convincing neuroscientific claims that aren't just about localization of activity is very, very hard, which is one reason why it is so seductive to jump to them without the required level of evidence. If you point out a citation that really does show something like this, I'll take a look at it.

But even suppose we could conclude this from reaction times. The results in this particular study are actually kind of odd then. Introverts showed slower reaction times on a (Sternberg) memory task for digit sequences of length 1 or 2, but no significant difference for longer lengths! (This of course doesn't mean there wasn't a difference, but they didn't find one of there is.) At best this cries out for more testing. But it isn't at face value very coherent with the "pathway length" explanation -- we would probably expect a more reliable effect at longer digit sequences on this explanation, because the task is supposed to be harder then. So the slower reaction times at short digit sequences must have another explanation. What would it be? The author doesn't say anything, or even discuss the issue of significance only at shorter lengths. It is probably impossible to draw a conclusion, let alone a neuroscientific one, on the basis of this study.

The larger problem throughout discussion in this thread is that people have a fairly natural expectation that their a priori, socially constructed categories ("introversion" etc.) will map relatively directly onto some kind of cognitive machinery; Introversion = low dopamine or whatever. (Yes, I realize that these terms are originally due to Jung. But at this point I think they are social constructs, and our learned beliefs about them have little to do with Jung's actual claims.) But there is no scientific reason to believe this to be so, and mono-causal explanations for observational categories of this type are almost always doomed to failure. This is why psychologists continue to refine theories of e.g. personality, to try to come up with better categories/theories that are driven by evidence, rather than trying to map prior categories onto new evidence. Even at the level of big five-type descriptions, where there is an extraversion continuum I don't think anyone really expects neat chunks of neural hardware to correspond to each of the continuums; this is a purely descriptive approach.

Also, to cite that paper, you really should use "Lieberman 2000". The author is not even at Harvard any more, it seems he was a grad student there when he ran the study.
posted by advil at 8:53 AM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

One introvert here says, "please be polite." It's so much nicer when you are.

My take on this list is:

1. Not all introverts are the same for ANY of these measures. It seems like this person is taking something specific to herself and applying it broadly to a larger, more disparate group of people (perhaps I have a different definition of "introvert")

2. Not all of these "myths" seem like they are super propagated (e.g. #4, #5, #8, #9, #10)

I am very much an introvert (imo). Outside of my family, I spend 95% of my time alone. I *am* shy, though not because I'm afraid of you. I'm afraid (not even "afraid," really, more like overconcerned) of how you will perceive my behavior or language. I really don't like to talk at all, even about things I'm interested in, unless it's a special person.

I'm a nomad. I like to go out and stay out, couchsurf, whatever, for days at a time. I LOVE public situations (concerts, theater, movies, sporting events, etc.), but I like experiencing them by myself or with strangers I've just met. I DO usually want to be alone, but when I don't, it's not just with one special person. I LOVE being with a group of great friends and disappearing into the woodwork, only popping up to make a joke now and then. I LOVE group activities like cards, sports, and book clubs, even if I don't talk much at all. I LOVE meeting new people.

I AM weird and you might probably call me ALOOF (or just a "loof"), but, actually I probably could fix myself and be an extrovert if I had enough motivation. In many instances (all involving a girl or woman I liked), I have certainly become an extrovert on demand. To live that way permanently would be stressful for me, but I think I could do it if I had to. That's kinda what my job is like for me....

I learned a phrase on MetaFilter a couple of years ago that I like and use- "I just have a low need for affiliation".

Well put. I really do think one big thing for me is the lack of a need for social affirmation/feedback. Perhaps I am really an extrovert who just doesn't give a fuck.

And yeah, the dopamine stuff seems like a total crock to me.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am flabbergasted and utterly ashamed that, apparently, I've been spelling "extraversion" and "extravert" wrongly for as long as I can remember.

To the Googles!

Extravert: About 874,000 results
Extrovert: About 3,990,000 results

Extraversion: About 1,270,000 results
Extroversion: About 2,260,000 results

As you were.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2011


P.S.
extro-
variant of extra- (used to contrast with intro-): extrovert.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2011


I certainly don't want to join in on a pile-on here, and I really appreciate nickrussel's willingness to look at the original research. That said, the papers cited don't show what he thinks they do:

1)
To show your claim that extraversion co-occurred with "short pathways" you would want to demonstrate that reaction time was correlated with extraversion, which I don't believe anyone has demonstrated (but if you have a cite, I'd be glad to hear it).
[Harvard, 2000] [Google results]


The Lieberman paper (cited as Harvard, 2000) uses the well known Sternberg task which is a measure of working memory, not reaction time per se. Introverts' worse performance on this task is most consistent with a view of introverts as having reduced WM capacity due to impaired executive
control. As Lieberman says, "The results of the current study suggest that extraverts have better working memory skills than introverts. Furthermore, because the Sternberg paradigm (1975) was used, it is reasonable to conclude that the advantage is specifically located within the central executive component of working memory." That said, as advil points out the data from this paper are a bit weak meaning that the results should be interpreted cautiously.

The top Google result linked is Rammseyer et al., 1993 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/019188699390118M). In the abstract, the authors write, "no relationship between Extraversion and reaction time performance was found." In Study 2, administering a dopamine synthesis blocker (AMPT) slowed the reaction times of introverts but not extroverts.

Neither of these studies even demonstrate that introverts have longer reaction times (on a pure measure of RT) let alone "longer brain pathways" (whatever that would be).

2)
The idea that extraverts seek agreement rather than innovation? That ignores findings that extraversion is independent from agreeableness. The closest proxy I have for innovation, Openness to Experience, is also empirically independent from extraversion.
[Boston Globe, 2011]


I see no evidence bearing on this question cited in this link.

3)
The idea that introverts get more blood to the brain than extraverts is so ridiculous on its face that it requires a cite.
[The Journal of Neuroscience] [Google]


This paper shows nothing resembling "introverts get more blood to the brain." As the authors point out: "This analysis is not able to detect any global variations in MR [magnetic resonance] signal related to personality variables (e.g., if high E subjects have a lower MR signal intensity across the whole brain), because the mean signal intensity of the images is scaled to an arbitrary value." Ditto for the Google results linked. What this (and other papers) show is differences in activation of specific brain regions between extro and introverts when doing specific tasks. Yes, there are brain differences between intro and extroverts--differences in behavior mean differences in the brain.

4. Your general point about dopamine is correct.

5)
The MBTI is not taken seriously in the psychology research community. It is a big hit in business, I suppose. Psychology researchers prefer the Big Five, Cattell's 16PF, Eysenck's three factor model, etc.
[Toastmasters International]


Toastmasters is not a known scientific authority. You'll note, however, that none of the research papers linked used the MBTI. This is because it has no scientific validity whatsoever.
posted by myeviltwin at 10:19 AM on November 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Alright, now we're getting somewhere! Thank you to the research posse for showing up and getting the details right! Who says introverts are slower than extraverts? ;)
posted by nickrussell at 11:12 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.


Not paying attention to the social norms in any given setting is a pretty good working definition of rude; "I'm to important to be bothered to be polite" isn't the height of social graces. We introverts don't get magically excused from having to oil the machinery of human interactions just because we don't feel like it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not a rebuttal to your rebuttal, Gygesringtone, because I agree with you, and I only find that article tolerable because I parse it as a defense from someone who has probably been putting up with a lot of insult over the years, and is lashing out.

However, there's been a very rapid change in just what social norms are just in recent years, and it's consistently a move toward becoming more extroverted in nature. I'm not even 50, but when I was a kid, I was raised to understand that a big part of social norms were respecting others' boundaries and privacy. Gossips and busybodies were generally considered rude. There were things you didn't discuss in polite company. There was such a thing as 'polite company.' People who didn't respect that were considered rude.

More and more, though, that sort of behavior has become normalized. I'm not sure it is considered rude anymore to ask strangers or casual acquaintances intensely personal questions. There's little concept of 'polite company' any more, except possibly at the workplace, in which you don't bring up money, sex, politics, or religion.

I've been actively and persistently proselytized at work. I've had private conversations liveblogged on Facebook, along with my personally identifying information, without my knowledge or consent. I've had acquaintances casually pick up my camera or my MP3 player and look through them without asking me. I've had not very close friends ask me how I groom my pubic area, what bra size I wear, and how much I weigh, all disturbingly out of the blue. I had a friend who took to her blog to describe a medical condition and surgery I'd only told her about out of necessity. She has no practically no boundaries at all herself, but the really disturbing part is that she doesn't even seem to grasp the concept that someone wouldn't want to share personal information unless they were ashamed of it or something. She honestly believed that my distaste at having my lady issues a topic of conversation among her creepy friends (and she knows I think they're creepy) was some sort of fault on my part.

And right there is the thing. I think you're probably hearing a lot more of introverted people lashing out and complaining, in part because the 'boundaries' portion of social niceties are rapidly disappearing, and more and more often, people are talking about our personal preferences as though they're pathologies that need to be cured somehow.

I don't know if any or all of these things I mention are generally considered OK now, but I can say that they're becoming more and more normalized, and if they're not considered social norms yet, they will be soon unless we speak out in defense of maintaining our personal boundaries. And frankly, I'm OK with lobbing some insults at the encroachers, because nothing else has worked so far.

Hey, look at all that typing, I'm pretty mad about this stuff, I guess.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:13 PM on November 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ernie,

I agree with what you're saying completely, that sort of behavior is unacceptable and needs to be condemned, and if that was the guy's point, I'd support it. Extroverts need to accommodate introverts just as much as introverts need to accommodate them. Of course that's a two way street, it's a little much to say "This is just how I am, you have to deal with it," when dealing with it means that they have to change who they are. Especially when it's put the way the author did, and "you" includes the entirety of society.

Actually, I'm optimistic about that type of negotiation about behaviors happening: I think that one of the best things about the internet is that it exposes people to completely different personalities, social groups, etc. and gives those groups a place to express themselves, and one of the benefits of that is that I see etiquette becoming less "this is how WE behave, if you don't behave like that you're a savage" and more "this is how people should treat other people." Maybe I'm just hanging out with the right sort of people. Of course it'll probably take a generation, and in the mean time we have to deal with the kind of people you're talking about.

Oh, and I also want to say (being married to a very nice extrovert, and friends with several others), I'm pretty sure those folks would be just as intrusive and gossipy if they were introverts. Lack of awareness of boundaries isn't limited to one type. In fact, I'd say their attitude is more closely related to the author's of, "it's hard for me to behave as if other people's desires matter, so they should just accept that I'm rude," than it is to whatever it is that makes extroverts extroverted.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:17 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this, but I'd like to push the idea that it's NOT so unlikely we'll find a neural/genetic correlate with introversion-extraversion. I'm neither a brain scientist nor a geneticist, but since I started studying my genome through 23andme.com, I've become fascinated with, for example, the Rs4680, val158met "polymorphism", a common variant in the human DNA coding for co-methyl transferase, which breaks down dopamine. The two variants of the gene are expressed about equally in the human population, and research has already demonstrated that the genotype is related to working memory capacity.

I find it fascinating that genes like this--which code for dramatically different lifetimes of dopamine in the brain--survive at just about equal proportions in populations around the world. I wonder if the heterozygous version is the most selected for, or whether a population with a balance (which may or may not map onto "introversion" and "extraversion") might be optimal.
posted by Schmucko at 6:56 PM on November 28, 2011


Alright, now we're getting somewhere! Thank you to the research posse for showing up and getting the details right!

I'm sorry if this is more abrasive than it needs to be, but what Jpfed, Ivan Fyodorovich, advil, and myeviltwin wrote was more than "getting the details right." They pointed out, with all the tact and nuance that I lack, that large chunks of your comment use terms and contain claims that look expert, but do not stand up to the merest scientific scrutiny. Nobody is prepared to offer evidence to support a mechanistic theory of personality.

I do not doubt your sincerity and I'm sure you've made a careful study of the material available to you.
posted by Nomyte at 7:34 PM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like a good sidebar as much as the next person, and setting aside my own meta-commentary on the "mass appeal" effect, it's good to see a conversation grow out of it. I think there are a few Psych 101 facts missing here, though.
Introversion and extroversion are not personalities, nor are they traits, unto themselves. They are usually scaled as dimensions onto a model like Eysencks or The Big Five.
Taking a step back from that, Traits as a concept or theory on personality is just one of six that have largely contributed to the overall construct(s) of personality. There's also Psychodynamic (which Traits originally grew out of), Behavioral/Social Learning, Social Cognition, Genetic, and Humanistic/Existential.
Even if you only want to have a conversation just about traits, then you should also include Walter Mischel. He's the marshmallow experiment guy. He states personality is better viewed as a set of probable responses to a particular situation rather than as consistent, internal traits.
Psychologists that take the trait perspective assume that people have stable, internal personality characteristics that cause them to behave consistently across a variety of situations. Others that take the situationist perspective argue that people's behaviors, and apparent personality, vary in different situations. Obviously, there is the interactionist perspective, which is the halfway point between the two.
It's not really a cut and dry topic, and even the idea that we have stable traits that always shine through is not set in stone.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


nickrussel - evaluating and explaining whether and how sources apply takes a while, as this thread has demonstrated. Since others have already taken up where I left off, I won't reply to your reply on its factual matters, as it would essentially retread advil's ground. That said, I really do appreciate you actually replying with sources (which is a rare and awesome act in online discussions) and I'm sorry my comment came across as mean-spirited; that was not my intent.

P.o.B. - Mischel himself was an interactionist, but the trait dudes were so scared of him (and probably rightly so) that they thought he must have a situationist perspective. He's been complaining about this misunderstanding for some time.
posted by Jpfed at 4:44 AM on November 29, 2011


large chunks of your comment use terms and contain claims that look expert, but do not stand up to the merest scientific scrutiny.
Ivan and I had a good mail about this very topic. The learning from my end was that offline, I exist in business as a managing consultant. I regularly take general concepts discovered in books, magazines, conferences, and put them together in briefs. Quite often, brilliant analysts grumble, "that's not what that means." They then develop workable outputs based on correct principles that we turn into actionable results.
it's good to see a conversation grow out of it.
For me, this is the the real point. So yes, perhaps the side-barred post is lacking in depth. Perhaps it's a bit boarish. It was not written with malice, thus the soul remains unencumbered.

Thus, overall, I consider this exercise to be a tremendous success. We've gotten a very rich discussion together from a relatively pedestrian blog post, and I have such a tremendous appreciation for the personal experiences offered above. To have hard scientists now involved pointing out the problems and inconsistencies, and further enriching this topic for everyone only adds to what we have here.
posted by nickrussell at 5:02 AM on November 29, 2011


P.S. I'd like to pop a shout-out to similarminds.

They have an impressive battery of online tests that can both specify and describe many of the concepts mentioned here, from the Jung tests to the Big 5 tests.
posted by nickrussell at 5:07 AM on November 29, 2011


For me, this is the the real point. So yes, perhaps the side-barred post is lacking in depth. Perhaps it's a bit boarish. It was not written with malice, thus the soul remains unencumbered.

The fact of bad science reporting is that what people typically remember is not the tedious fact-checking corrections. They remember the pithy just-so story, and see the later stuff as "blah blah blah not significant blah blah. I think there have even been studies demonstrating more or less this. So yes, the discussion was good for those of us involved. I don't blame you, you didn't choose to have the comment sidebarred. But I think this is why this style of exchange is very frustrating to the fact-checkers involved, they are well aware that their audience is pretty much just you, not the zillion people who saw it on the sidebar.
posted by advil at 5:47 AM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


they are well aware that their audience is pretty much just you, not the zillion people who saw it on the sidebar.
I sincerely hope that is not the case. Personally, I use the sidebar as a starting point for the greater conversation. I imagine we each use it in our own differing ways. From years in the media industry, I learned that at some point, you have to trust in the audience to take away from your content what they are looking for. It behoves one to make a depth of content available, however, at the end of the day, the audience will decide how much of that depth they are looking for.

More often than not, we were pleasantly surprised by how deep audiences are willing to go. Personally, I don't think the fact-checkers are wasting their time by any means, for this discussion will remain in the archives for the foreseeable future.

And it is with great joy, for now when someone googles my name and the word "pithy", they may get a result. Which is something I could not have said yesterday. Thank you for that opportunity.
posted by nickrussell at 6:00 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


nick russell good conversation
nick russell good conversation
nick russell good conversation

There, that should even things out.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:31 AM on November 29, 2011


And now the sidebar notice has been taken down. If I ever saw that before I have now forgotten it.
posted by bukvich at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hope that nickrussell doesn't feel badly about the sidebar notice being taken down. I appreciate the effort he made in writing his comment...it's just that I think that it was misleading and could have been better. He should continue to write information-dense comments, just maybe with some more care.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:39 AM on November 29, 2011


I'm real tired of this whole introvert/extrovert dichotomy. It's so completely misleading. I mean, it's like astrology, or birth order theory, or that dumb thing where people put those 4 letter abbreviations in their OkCupid profiles. People want an easy explanation for themselves, a way to explain their strengths and write off their weaknesses. It's fun to try and summarize human nature into some kind of pithy explanation that you can talk about over dinner -- or a website, heh.

Somebody upthread said that "introversion vs. extroversion" is context-dependent, and I'm totally on-board with that. I've had so many friends who've referred to themselves as "painfully shy", and I've been like, "WTF? You?!" because I never felt that way about them. But later on I'll see them in other situations and be like, "Wow, I guess Jamie really is kinda awkward". Why? Because I'm a really good listener and very skilled at bringing people out of their shells.

Extroverson is a social skill. Maybe in other cultures it's a liability. I dunno. But in modern American culture, it's a social skill. It comes natural for some people; it didn't for me. My friends know me as someone who's outgoing and boisterous, always ready with a joke, always ready to introduce myself to a total stranger. And that's all true. But you know what? It's fucking hard! I get rejected a lot -- and I'm not talking about dating here : I'm talking about social situations! People brush me off all the damn time. And it hurts, but I try my best not to let it bother me. It's done me untold amount of good to be outgoing, ready to talk to people, and ready to stand up for myself when I need to, but it hasn't come for free.

Anyway, I'm not saying everyone needs to be like me. There's lots of reasons for people to be quiet and withdrawn. And you know what, more power to them! I'm not one to tell anyone how to be. But I would tell the self-described "introverts" two things :

1) We don't know that you're an introvert! Seriously, there's lots of reasons for people to be silent and withdrawn. For all we know, you COULD be an asshole! I mean, of course you're not, but we have no way of knowing that! Like, I once worked with a guy who was super super cold, would never talk to you unless he absolutely had to, and made everyone around him feel tense and awkward. Was he actually an asshole? Who the hell knows! But he was unpleasant to be around, and I'm glad I don't have to work with him anymore. When he left, nobody missed him.

2) Most social situations are ultra-low-stakes. This is what ultimately helped me. I mean sure, some social situations, like job interviews, are high-stakes. But the vast majority of them are really low-stakes. Like, worst case scenario, someone doesn't like you. Big fucking deal! Move to a big city where there's lots of people. There are always new people out there waiting to meet you, and some of them are bound to like you. There are 300 million people in this country alone. Think about it.

Anyway, that is all. Best of love and luck to all.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:15 PM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


We had a deal, Kyle: "I remember my ex-wife more than once telling me she envied my ability to happily engage in conversation with just about anyone.

JESUS FUCK YES.

The linked article, and the Introvert Advantage, are very rah-rah-being-an-introvert-is-great.

Well no; quite often it's not. You're at a disadvantage in social situations; making casual connections is difficult and draining. But if you don't make an effort to be ON -- as extroverts here have oh-so-helpfully suggested you do -- then you risk being perceived as standoffish or uninterested or asocial.

So yeah, damn right I envy you extroverted social chameleons. You make chitchat appear so effortless and easy; but for me it's not, goddamnit, it's not, and if you need me to fake it for you at a party or a presentation I can do it for a while and be fairly convincing and probably enjoy it for a while. BUT it's going to WIPE ME OUT and if I don't get some quiet time to recharge I'm going to get increasingly WITHDRAWN and TIRED and SNAPPY and I wish you'd understand that oh god I wish you'd understand that.
"

Well, FWIW, I do try to respect people that do NOT feel like talking. Just let me know so, unequivocally, but hopefully tactfully, and I will just fuck right off and find someone else to chat with.
posted by Samizdata at 11:16 PM on November 29, 2011


DU: "Myth # 11 -- Introverts are sometimes annoying.

No, that''s probably true. That said, extroverts are invariably annoying.
"

And as for you?

I am NOT talking to you any more. Your loss, bucko.

(grin)
posted by Samizdata at 11:18 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm real tired of this whole introvert/extrovert dichotomy. It's so completely misleading. I mean, it's like astrology, or birth order theory

Except that one's a way of describing behavior the other are ways of explaining it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2011


Except that one's a way of describing behavior the other are ways of explaining it.

I really don't want to be the didactic one here (especially because I'm no kind of expert), but actually that is incorrect. Traits are general characteristics, and dispositions that presume to be a basis for an individual's behavior. They focus on descriptions but they don't explain why people do what they do. You may score high on an Extroversion dimension because you do X, Y, and Z; but you don't do X,Y, and Z because you're extroverted as TFA erroneously claims throughout. Perhaps psychologists expound on why people have these traits, but backwards rationalizing these things is pretty much the definition of observational bias. As a reminder, extroversion and introversion are not personalities or even stand alone traits.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:50 PM on November 30, 2011


Unless you meant that the other way around, in which case carry on. I did want to mention, birth order was Adler's thing and obviously some people like it and some people don't.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2011


Unless you meant that the other way around, in which case carry on.

Yup. Sorry, if I was unclear.
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:14 PM on November 30, 2011


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