Thursday, September 23, 2010

Introverts and Extraverts

Psychology Today has a great article called "Revenge of the Introverts". The author Laura Helgoe claims that 50% of the population are introverts. She makes the important distinction between shy people and introverts. They are not the same. I am not shy but consider myself an introvert. I can actually at times be outspoken but still consider myself an introvert.

Helgoe uses the example of two people at a dance standing on the sidelines. The shy person wishes they were not there but the introvert is totally happy to be there. Introverts prefer to be alone. She uses Beth Wheatley as an example. Beth runs as she chooses solitary exercise over team sports or gyms where groups of people gather to work out. She also opts out of after work social events. I share much in common with Beth.

I am by no means shy but I am definitely an introvert. I know it and Myers Briggs proved it. Helgoe speaks of the recovery time needed after a session with large groups of people. She says introverts need that time to digest events and information. I know that I just need it to keep going out there. Extroverts live for social interaction and introverts avoid it. I myself do not mind small groups of people, dinner parties for four or dinner out with a friend,
small groups of people I enjoy. And then some down time.

I wrote in an earlier blog about coping mechanisms that we develop to survive in an extroverted society. Helgoe speaks of our Western society as extremely extroverted but reveals that there are many societal groups where introversion is valued more. Compensatory behaviors help an introvert to function in a society where extroversion is valued.

Introverts tend to be self critical as the area of the brain that controls speech is active during the recovery periods and Helgoe attributes that to inner conversations which occur to resolve and digest issues and information.

"Introverts and extraverts report a mood boost from the company of others. For introverts however the boost may come at a cost." When I need downtime I need to just go. Middle of a seminar. Party. Need to remove myself. I do not consciously spend time digesting or assimilating information...I just need time alone.

It works for me. As I get older I enjoy more time alone. I have a multitde of friends in the wings whom I see individually. I steer clear of company functions and am usually busy on party nights.

Cool article. Nice to validate what I know to be true in my life.

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