I love the article “The Upside of Being an Introvert (And Why Extroverts Are Overrated)” by Bryan Walsh in Time magazine. I’m glad that people are finally starting to give introverts their due. I am an introvert to the extreme – I got the highest possible score for introversion on the Myers-Briggs personality test. Ten times out of ten, I would rather stay home with a good book than go to a party. That’s not to say that I’m a social outcast or don’t know how to behave around people. I just find it hard to be around large groups of people for long periods of time. I can force myself, but it’s not pleasant. I suspect that there’s a connection between introversion and academic performance. Introverts like solitude, and solitude leads to mastery of skills. As Mr. Walsh writes:
Florida State University psychologist K. Anders Ericsson believes that deliberate practice — training conducted in solitude, with no partner or teammate — is key to achieving transcendent skill, whether in a sport, in a vocation or with a musical instrument. In one study, Ericsson and some of his colleagues asked professors at the Music Academy in Berlin to divide violinists into three groups, ranging from those who would likely go on to professional careers to those who would become teachers instead of performers. The researchers asked the violinists to keep diaries and found that all three groups spent about the same amount of time — more than 50 hours a week — on musical activities. But the two groups whose skill levels made them likelier to play well enough to perform publicly spent most of their time practicing in solitude.
Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to escape the distractions of group work. This is true in school and even more so in the workplace. I hope that writers like Mr. Walsh and Malcolm Gladwell (who wrote about a similar subject in Outliers) will convince people of the power of being alone.
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2 thoughts on “Introverts Unite!”
I’m definitely a big fan of staying home with a good book as well, and I use the Kindle app on my iPad every day at lunch. Author Susan Cain just wrote an excellent book about Introversion:
She also wrote a good piece in the NY Times:
According to , there are as many introverts as avtrexerts. While I’m inclined to believe that statistic isn’t entirely correct, I don’t think it’s that far off the mark. Introversion/extraversion is a spectrum, and if you put down a line in the middle, I’m sure you’ll find a significant part of the population on the more introverted end of the spectrum. We don’t notice because of selection bias: the loudest are most easily heard, tautologically, and so we notice those whom we’d be expected to notice (those making themselves heard, i.e., avtrexerts) while those we don’t notice are those we wouldn’t expect to notice (the quiet ones).You’re right that the normative behavior, the behavior that is expected and promoted by society, is extraverted behavior. But I wouldn’t concede that introversion is odd . That would be like saying homosexuality is odd. Homosexuality isn’t odd, not even technically odd . It’s not unusual. In this day and age, it’s odd to regard it as odd. I’m sure there are as many, if not more introverts than there are homosexuals, and I don’t think we should regard either as unusual, odd, strange, weird, non-normal, etc. I understand that you use the word odd in the way it would be odd to meet a guy who could shoot milk out of his eyes or benchpress 300 kg: as something not necessarily wrong or creepy, but certainly out of the ordinary. And I don’t really see introversion as anything unusual.