When someone posted some interesting quotes on Facebook from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (2012) by Susan Cain, I developed a sudden interest in my natural personality type. I went looking for Quiet but the library was a little slow in its purchases. Instead I found, The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen, which I read earlier this year. I enjoyed both books for different reasons. The Introvert Advantage went into a little more detail about how the brains of introverts and extroverts function differently on a cellular level, which was fascinating. On the other hand, I appreciated how Cain did not turn Quiet into a cheering section for how much better introverts are than extroverts or a rah-rah self-help book. Instead she focused on the relative strengths and weaknesses of both personality types and how they work together to influence and interact in the world around us.
Cain begins Quiet by looking at the rise of the appreciation of the extroverted personality. In the early 1900's, when populations shifted dramatically from rural towns to big cities, relationships became more about the impression one could make on strangers than long-standing relationships. It was during this time that traits associated with extroverted personalities became highly prized in work and social situations. Another interesting fact was that introversion, extroversion, and appreciation of those traits varies drastically from country to country. The United States, unsurprisingly, is one of the most extroverted countries in the nation while many Asian countries and Finland are much more introverted.
I feel like I could go on forever about all the interesting little bits of information I've picked up from reading this book, all while opining on my own version of introversion. But I'm afraid that could get out of hand. So, instead, I'll just jot down some of the bits I found interesting enough to highlight while reading:
-"High-reactive children [associated with introversion] pay what one psychologist calls 'alert attention' to people and things. They literally use more eye movements than others to compare choices before making a decision. It's as if they process more deeply--sometimes consciously, sometimes not--the information they take in about the world." (103)
-"According to a recent study of military personnel conducted through the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, introverts function better than extroverts when sleep deprived." (125)
-"I believe this is harder for introverts, who have trouble projecting artificial enthusiasm." (129)
-"Introverts, in contrast, are constitutionally programmed to downplay
reward--to kill their buzz, you might say--and scan for problems." (167)
-"[I]ntroverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly." (209)
-"These findings suggest something very important: introverts like people they meet in friendly contexts; extroverts prefer those they compete with." (231)
-"They 'enjoy small talk only after they've gone deep,' says Strickland. 'When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else." (152)
So, if any of the above statements pique your curiosity and leave you wanting more, it's probably worth reading the book. Fascinating stuff.