If someone labeled you an “introvert” how would it make you feel? Judging from research on social desirability, most of us would prefer to be labeled extraverts. Normal distributions are what they are, however, half the world is more introverted than average. Earlier in the chapter we discussed the
upside of introversion, but in many ways, it’s an extravert’s world. So says Susan Cain in her bestselling book Quiet. Cain makes three arguments:
1. We see ourselves as extroverts. Introversion is generally seen as undesirable, partly because extraverts like being in charge and are more apt to shape environments to fit their wishes. “Many of the most important institutions of contemporary life are designed for those who enjoy group projects and high levels of stimulation.”
2. Introversion is driven underground. Thanks to social norms and structures, introverts often are forced to be “closet introverts”—acting according to an extraverted ideal, even if that is not their personality at heart. Think about it. If someone comments, “You’re awfully quiet,” they nearly always assume an underlying problem, as if not being quiet is the norm.
3. Extraversion is not all it’s cracked up to be. Because introversion is suppressed, we cause introverts of the world distress and fail to capitalize on the many virtues of introversion. We may overlook the quiet, thoughtful introvert when choosing a leader, we may quell creativity by doing most of our work in groups, and we may mistake appearance for reality (“Don’t mistake assertiveness or eloquence for good ideas,” Cain writes). Society may unwittingly push people to take risks more than is warranted, to act before they think, and to focus on short-term rewards above all else. Introverts prefer quiet conditions to concentrate on difficult tasks. Cain is not anti-extravert. She simply thinks we should encourage people to be who they truly are, and that means valuing extraversion and introversion. Research indicates happy introverts are every bit as happy as happy extroverts. Cain concludes, “The next time you see a person with a composed face and soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”
5-17. Would you classify yourself as introverted or extroverted? How would people who know you
5-18. Would you prefer to be more introverted, or more extroverted, than you are? Why?
5-19. Do you agree with Cain’s arguments? Why or why not?
Source: Based on S. Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (New York: Random House/Broadway Paperbacks, 2013); G. Belojevic; V. Slepcevic, and B. Jakovljevic, “Mental Performance in Noise: The Role of Introversion,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 21, no. 2 (2001): 209–13; and P. Hills and M. Argyle, “Happiness, Introversion-Extraversion, and Happy Introverts,” Personality and Individual Differences 30, no. 4 (2001): 595–608.
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5-20. What do you feel are the pros and cons of extraversion and introversion for your work life? Can you increase desirable traits?
5-21. The study cited in the Ethical Dilemma found that Millennials change jobs every 2 years, while for baby boomers the average tenure was 7 years, and for Generation X, 5. Because people change jobs less often as they age, do you think these statistics may have more to do with age than with generational values? Why or why not?
5-22. MyManagementLab Only – comprehensive writing assignment for this chapter.