I recently finished reading Susan Cain’s bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I recommend picking it up if you haven’t already read it, as it addresses a topic relevant not only to psychologists, but also educators, administrators, business leaders, and pretty much anyone who comes into contact with other human beings on a regular basis.
In Quiet, Cain argues that, since the Industrial Revolution, those of us living in traditional western societies have come to believe that, in order to be successful if life, one must possess the “right” type of personality. In order to find a suitable mate, one must be charming and funny. In order to land a job, one must be assertive and persuasive. And in order to have a successful career and earn promotion, one must be charismatic, gregarious, and an affable “team player.”
As such, Cain argues that western society favors and idealizes extroverts (those who primarily seek stimulation from the external environment and who prefer being in the company of others) at the expense of introverts (those who primarily seek stimulation from their own internal environment and who prefer spending time alone with their own thoughts).¹