Dr. Luke Smillie is a professor at the University of Melbourne, where he teaches about personality. His interesting research helps define introverts and extroverts.
Definitions of introverts often suggests they are less outwardly connected and more sensitive. They may be pegged as less active, bold or social, more detached and even lethargic. Naturally, many introverts take exception to being called inward, lethargic and detached.
Dr. Smillie adds some interesting ideas to the definition. He suggests that deliberation before action is key for introverts. In other words, they don't just blurt things out but need to contemplate their words first.
His reward sensitivity theory of extroversion suggest that variation in reward stimulation relates to personality. According to his studies, strongly correlated to extroversion are ego satisfying rewards like attention, money, sex and power.
Thus, the motivation that underlies extroversion is often attention and power.
Extroverts are typically more verbal and less sensitive to others. Because they readily speak up, they are also more likely to be judged as quick thinking and smart.
The trouble is these labels mean something to people, and we tend to pigeonhole people into a personality type.
Extroverts are talkative and easier to spot, thus they are easiest to judge and understand. Those that are misunderstood are introverts.
Extroverts get a lot more reward from human connection because inherently embedded in social contact is increased power and control.
What I took away from Dr. Smillie's research is that extroverts are outgrowing for a reason, they achieve social dominance, leadership, assertiveness and success. Some of these motives are self -serving and could give an upper hand over hard working introverts in a group.
Dr Smillie is adding to Susan Cain's quiet revolution movement to bring more awareness to a large portion of our workforce.
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