Introversion/Extroversion as an important factor in Human Civilisation
Published in psycho.philica.com
I think that many components of Human Civilisation, such as politics, culture, science, religion, and economy, may boil down to the fundamental human characteristic of introversion/extroversion.
A basic tenet of democracy is that of free speech. Free speech, obviously benefits extroverts more than introverts, since extroverts can be considered to have a higher chance to want to speak out freely more.
Western culture is considered to be more “liberal”, and the people there are supposed to be more outspoken. This is the equivalent of saying that Western culture is more extroverted, or at least extrovert-oriented.
On the other hand, Eastern culture is considered to be more conservative, and that appears to be the characteristic of introverts. An interesting observation is that Asian countries which have been Westernised, eg Japan, have acquired some of the Western extrovert traits as well, hence proving that on the surface, extroversion/introversion may not genetic.
A characteristic of some scientists in the past is that they frequently work alone, eg Newton. However, a quick look at today’s scientists reveals that they often work in teams, which is good. However, what is not good is that modern society does not really support scientists who work alone, using the argument that two brains is better than one.
This can also be seen as a subtle discrimination against introverts.
The idea of self-sufficiency is an introverted one, which is that one country produces all that it needs, without needing to trade with others.
As all economists know, self-sufficiency is now impossible in this world. (in the past, it was possible in some countries such as China)
On a micro-scale, self-sufficiency as a person is again not very possible, as one has to rely on other people to provide the food, clothing, etc.
I conclude that the world is becoming a more extroverted one, and a less introverted one. The selection pressure is not only for extroversion, but also against introversion.
I can think of 2 reasons for this bias:
1) Man is a social species, so extroversion obviously helps it achieve that aim.
2) The global rising population increases the need of people to be able to interact with other people, at a larger scale (more people).
I believe that this trend will increase, not decrease, over the years, and I solemnly make two predictions that it will cause:
1) Introduction of laws against discrimination of introverts in the future. (a quick search on Google showed that there was few such laws currently)
2) Increase in number of autistic-spectrum cases, as autism can be seen as an extreme form of introversion.
A Time magazine article once said that personality tests employed by companies have only one purpose —- to weed out the introverts. When asked a question of whether one wants to party or read a book, the “correct” answer was always to party.
Currently, the only option introverts have, is either to magically transform into an extrovert (which is difficult), or pretend to be one (which is not easy either).
I sincerely hope that a solution will be found to solve this pertinent human problem, since introversion/extroversion is an important, but often neglected, factor in many human issues.
Information about this Observation
Peer-review ratings as of 04:37:32 on 15th Dec 2017 (from 4 reviews, where a score of 100 is average):
Originality = 122.29, importance = 110.10, overall quality = 94.70
Published on Wednesday 6th December, 2006 at 02:57:44.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.
The full citation for this Observation is:|
Doglas, Y. (2006). Introversion/Extroversion as an important factor in Human Civilisation. PHILICA.COM Observation number 32.
added 6th December, 2006 at 03:00:08
I am sorry about splitting up my observation by placing them into “circumstances” and “references”, but that was due to the 2000 character limit, which in my opinion is a little short.
Perhaps 10000 characters (not words) would be a better estimate.
Peer review added 6th December, 2006 at 06:49:46
I am not sure why this observation has been made at all. It is meaningless. Of course a personality trait is not ‘genetic’. The influence of society is always there. It is hardly surprising that Japanese may have become more ‘extrovert’. I do not believe the scientific community discriminates against ‘Introverts’, just bad science, and pointless observations. There appear to be good arguments, well documented ones, from thinking in evolution that indicate why certain traits such as introversion (regarded by some as a weakness, as negative) persist and I direct the reader to these works. Regarding the authors comment that the word limit is too short for this type of article, I disagree and commend Philica. This is supposed to be an ‘observation’. The author should apply himself and write more economically if he feels the need to publish thoughts like these. It would be better to remove this observation completely and write it again mroe carefully and economically.
added 7th December, 2006 at 07:36:29
May I refer to an article by the TIME magazine:
I can also quote from it:
“In a June article on corporate personality testing, the Washington Post reported on a woman who passed the skills test for a customer-care job but wasn’t hired because she failed the personality test. Those tests, including the ubiquitous Myers-Briggs test, have no scientific credibility or predictive value, as Annie Murphy Paul showed in her 2004 book, Cult of Personality. You can have one Myers-Briggs personality on Tuesday and another when you retake the test on Thursday. Their chief function, as far as I could tell when I took them, was to weed out the introverts. When asked whether you’d rather be the life of the party or curl up with a book, the correct answer is always “Party!” “
So I can safely say that at least one person of authority, namely the author of that article (Barbara Ehrenreich), agrees with my stand.
As of the previous comments of whether discrimination against introverts is present, I agree that the discrimination, at this stage is subtle. However, judging by the trend, it is likely to get worse, not better, and hence the purpose of this observation — to alert or at least make aware the possibility of such consequences.
I also apologise for the awry formatting. I will try to shorten the observations in future, or expand it into an article if possible.
Peer review added 28th March, 2008 at 13:34:30
This observation is important. I totally agree with the author. There indeed exists discrimination against shy and quiet people in most work environments. I also tend to believe that introversion or extroversion is inborn (although you can pretend not to be). There is indeed a big difference between Western and Eastern culture. In Western culture introverts are considered as weak people, but in Eastern culture people show more respects on different personalities.
Peer review added 18th September, 2011 at 17:45:32
This is an interesting observation. It would have been enhanced by relevant references. However, there was a shock when in some retreats a decade ago it was found through professional testing that more than 95% of the members of several groups of scientists were introverts, *not extroverts*. It may also be that the rigors of science and technology encourage scientists to become introverts as a result of overcritical reviewers and more importantly, the need for funds for their research. Fear of change may also be a cause of introversion and, in its extreme form, to adult autism. Perhaps among mathematicians and theoretical physicists the proportion of introverts is higher still than 95%. Large teams of introverts do not necessarily contain a high proportion of extroverts, as it seems to be the implicit assumption in this observation. Although, well presented and argued, it may very well be that the proposed conclusions are not supported by the actual facts, such as professional psychological testing of large groups of scientists. It may also be that extroversion may be a definite advantage for politicians and certain administrators. Moreover, it is quite possible that the same individuals may be seen as “introverts” in one specific professional group—and under certain circumstances— but become “extroverts” in their family of friendly social group.