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IS INTROVERSION AN ABNORMALITY?


THINK ABOUT IT…

What potential problems do introverts face in today’s extroverted society and how can we overcome some of the misconceptions and stigmas?

Introversion is “a major personality type identified in many theories of personality that focus on people who tend to be inward turning, focus more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.” (Cherry, Kendra).

The number varies, but most research says that Introverts make up 30-50% of the world population, (Young, Karen) yet there are still many misconceptions, stigmas and judgements made towards this personality type. If so many people consider themselves an introvert, then why are there still so many misconceptions? This is why spreading awareness is so important so that we get the right mindset and know how to treat this personality type well.



The world needs introverts. Our society wouldn’t be the way it has become without introverts. Examples of introverts who made huge changes in history include

  • Rosa Parks
  • Martin Luther King Jr
  • Steve Jobs
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
Images taken from Wikipedia

These individuals followed their hearts and minds and set themselves a goal. Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat because her heart was yelling for a change. Martin Luther King Jr stood up in front of 250,000 people because his desire to share and make a change was so important to him. Steve Jobs locked himself alone in his room, where his creativity could flourish and turn his little idea into a huge successful business. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote all his books in his home in La Jolla, California and rarely left his house. (Cain, Susan).


HOW THE CURRENT “EXTROVERTED WORLD” TREATS INTROVERTS

We live in a society gated towards extroversion. Examples include

  • Schools that push class participation and group work
  • Work cultures that encourages networking and collaboration through open walls
  • Engaging in small talk on the bus or in grocery stores with a stranger

Since the world population is more extroverted, our norm of the “perfect ideal individual” has stemmed from extraversion. We think that children should be sociable and outgoing and if they turn out quiet, it is seen to be an abnormality. To fit our norm, we want our children to be popular, have a large group of friends and be included and well-liked. Our society doesn’t favor the timid, quiet individual who would rather chill at home than go out on a weekend.

Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily and work more accurately. They seem to think more carefully than extroverts. Extroverts are more outgoing and likely to take a quick approach to connecting with others through face-to-face socializing. They tend to problem solve quickly, trading accuracy for speed, and have a higher rate of abandoning a problematic task than introverts. This is not to say that an extroverted personality is negative! Extroverts are skilled at face-to-face communication and can spark up small talk easily. There is no “best” personality type and nothing is better than the other. Each personality type has its ups and downs. Additionally, the spectrum is there because we can’t be solely one or another. (Cherry, Kendra)

Surprisingly, Introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read (Cain, Susan). They can express the real me online and spend more time in online discussions. They love communicating digitally and often have a large online audience. A majority of “famous YouTubers” are very  much introverts in real life. The same person who would never raise their hand in a large lecture hall of two hundred people may blog or communicate digitally with two thousand or two million people.

STIGMAS & MISCONCEPTIONS

Have you ever been told that you were too quiet? Shy? Reserved? Lonely? These negative misconceptions are universal and can lead to introverts thinking twice about their personality type, and that they need to make a change in order to be more “outgoing” in today’s extroverted world. (TED)

In more extroverted countries like the USA, introverts are finding it hard to embrace their natural reserved personality. Whereas in more conservative areas, such as Japan, Korea and some countries in the UK where introvertness is considered more of a “norm”, it is easier to live since life is slower paced and thoughts are kept to oneself.

Images taken from Wikimedia Commons, Japan Guide, Larive International, Daily Mail

SHYNESS vs. INTROVERSION

However, being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy. Here are the definitions for both (Christ, Scott).

Shyness – indicates a fear of people or social situations

Introvert – simply does not like to spend lots of time interacting with people

Now let’s take a look at some scenarios of shyness vs. introversion…

(images taken from LifeHack)

GIVING A SPEECH
STARTING A CONVERSATION
HAVING A CONVERSATION
SOCIALIZING
ALONE TIME
THOUGHTS

As you can see, shyness and introversion are actually quite different!

(image taken from TheMuse)

To see where you lie on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, take THIS QUIZ to find out!

Quiz taken from BrainFall. “Myers-Briggs: Are You Extroverted Or Introverted?” BrainFall

SHARE YOUR ANSWERS ON THE POLL BELOW

MY STORY

Every introvert has their own way of doing things, so here’s my personal story. I talk about how I felt throughout an “abnormal” time, what people said to me, the event that lead to me thinking I was “out of the ordinary” and my general thoughts on this topic!

I would consider Hong Kong an extroverted city. Super densely populated with tourists, residence and people in general. Therefore, it can be hard for people like me, who consider themselves introverts, to live in a large city. Schools in Hong Kong used to have desks in rows, striving to educate children with independence. But there has been a rise of Western influence and now local Hong Kong schools are starting to realize the importance of group work.

Hong Kong Streets (Image taken from TripSavvy)

From personal experience, most of the people like to keep things to themselves. On subway rides, people are on their phones, reading newspapers or listening to music. On busses, people hardly talk and engage in conversation, as they like to keep reserved. At my international school, we do engage in a lot of group work, but there is quite a bit of independent work to keep a good balance.

City, country and location do play a big role in how our personality emerges and how our schools are set up. An introvert could love the metropolitan areas and dislike the countryside. Whereas an extrovert could love the countryside and dislike the city. It all depends on personal preference and culture!

WHAT SHOULD OUR MINDSET BE NOW?

Instead of looking at the down-side of introversion, why not celebrate it?

We need to give introverts more freedom in today’s society and

“Stop the madness for constant group work” (TED)

Yes, kids need to be able to know the qualities of group work, but independent work is just as important because that is where the deepest, most creative thoughts catered towards the individual are formed. (Cain, Susan)

CHANGE I’D LIKE TO SEE IN MY COMMUNITY: HONG KONG

Parents in Hong Kong are known to have high academic expectations for their kids. Local Hong Kong students, especially, are often are bombarded with extra-curricular activities and academic homework. They rarely get sleep and free time, even at a young age when kids shouldn’t have too many stressors acting upon them. Most of the time, kids are doing what they do because they are forced by their parents. It is also very common in Hong Kong to hire domestic helpers (full-time babysitter), to help look after children while parents are at work, traveling or socializing.

Therefore, parents and domestic helpers end up doing everything for their kids, losing this sense of independent learning.

In schools, not just in my local community but also all over the world, we could devote more independent time to students so that creativity and imagination can flourish. Some ideas include…

  • Desk arrangement could be flexible in that some days it could be arranged into groups, and some days it could be arranged in rows
  • Give freedom in school projects – for those who want to work alone, let them!
  • Sparkle creativity – outline a specific project with requirements, but let the student come up with their own final product
  • Don’t shame children for not socializing with peers – sometimes they’re having a bad day, sometimes they might not want to talk or maybe they just want to be alone
  • Let children engage in their own extra-curricular
  • Give children a flexible after-school schedule and let them plan their time accordingly – whether it be attending extra-curricular, working on homework, socializing with friends…etc

Additionally, the current craze around Hong Kong seems to surround academics. There is so much competition to get into the “best” high ranked universities. Parents, students and the locals of Hong Kong don’t “have time” to think about other relevant world-wide issues such as mental health, ethical rights, and personal life.

To make this change happen, we could not only post on social media and spread awareness, but also consult school principals, administrators and teachers. Although this might be harder because culture plays a role, we can also educate parents and brief them on this topic as it will make a big difference in the life of an introverted child.

Image taken from TopSchool

HOW TO TREAT AN INTROVERT

(Young, Karen)

  1. Accept and embrace

know that they are not the social butterfly type and let them take their time. nurture their creativity, sensitivity, empathy and big heart.

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured. If an introverted child needs help with social skills, teach her slowly and let her blossom out of her shell on her own. It takes time” ~ Susan Cain


“If you want your child to learn these skills, don’t let her hear you call her “shy”. she’ll believe that label and experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion she can control. She also knows full well that “shy” is a negative word in our society. Above all, do not shame her for her shyness” ~ Susan Cain


2. Encourage them to seek outlets to express themselves

It takes time to find the activity you truly love, so let them self explore. Many introverts find joy in the arts, writing, journaling, yoga. Many love social media connections as digital communication is easier for them

3. Respect their need for privacy

Families assume the whole family needs to do things together to bond, but this is overwhelming for introverts. One-on-one gatherings work best and can generate more meaningful conversations

4. Work with their strengths

Many introverts have something they are extremely good at. Pushing them to join groups or clubs or activities they have no interest in can backfire and can be a waste of time and money

5. Give gentle nudges, not hard thrusts

Instead of throwing them into the deep end, encourage baby steps and give the person time

6. Teach them to celebrate their uniqueness

Introversion is a special personality type and we wouldn’t be living in a world without them. Famous introverts have invented products that have changed our lives for the better.

“Slowly your child will see that it’s worth punching through her wall of discomfort to get to the fun on the other side. She’ll learn how to do the punching by herself” ~ Dr. Kenneth Rubin

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.”

Personality is a huge topic, and there are so many aspects to it whether it being the nature or the nurture. I think it is so important to celebrate all personality types, no matter how large the scale is. We are born with our personality and since it’s not under our control, why not embrace and celebrate you? Introversion is just one of the many personality traits and it definitely is not “abnormal”, just different!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? SHARE YOUR STORY OR THOUGHTS BELOW!

Made with Padlet

THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING TO MY PROJECT!

WORKS CITED

BrainFall. “Myers-Briggs: Are You Extroverted Or Introverted?” BrainFall, brainfall.com/quizzes/myers-briggs-are-you-extroverted-or-introverted/.

Cain, Susan. Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Broadway Paperbacks, 2013.

Cherry, Kendra. “8 Signs You Might Be an Introvert.” Verywell Mind, www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-are-an-introvert-2795427.

Christ, Scott. “16 Things You Might Have Misunderstood About Introverts.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 15 Oct. 2013, www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-you-might-have-misunderstood-about-introverts.html.

TED, director. YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Mar. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4&t=157s.

Young, Karen. “Raising an Introverted Child in an Extroverted World.” Raising an Introverted Child in an Extroverted World, 24 Nov. 2017, www.heysigmund.com/raising-introverted-child-extroverted-world/.




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COMMENTS: 11
  1. April 25, 2019 by Heather .Hersey

    Hi Vivian, I’m sorry about your prior experiences, but I’m so glad that you chose to do something about it. I learned so much from you presentation that I didn’t know before. You created an amazing resource, especially for teachers. Do you plan to share it with people at your school? Thank you for sharing your story!

    • April 26, 2019 by Vivian.Fong

      Thank you Ms. Hersey! I will consider sharing it with people at my school, but my biggest priority is to share it with local Hong Kong schools as I think that community doesn’t know much about this issue. It may be hard for me to reach out in person as I don’t speak the local language really well, but social media would definetely work!

  2. April 26, 2019 by Merrill.Buczek

    Hello Vivian, this topic is so intriguing. I am in abnormal psychology and we spent a week just talking about what is abnormal (which is why I think that your topic title is already so thought provoking). Personality types lie on a spectrum and it doesn’t seem fair to alienate one type of personality on that spectrum in schools and workplaces. Thank you so much for sharing your story and giving a voice to people who do not always feel comfortable doing so!

    • April 26, 2019 by Vivian.Fong

      Yes definitely! Thank you so much.

  3. April 26, 2019 by Addie Anderson

    I love this Vivian, especially as I am an introverted person and so this really speaks to me. I loved your personal story and for the depth of your project!

    • April 26, 2019 by Vivian.Fong

      Thank you Addie! And thanks for your feedback as well 🙂

  4. April 28, 2019 by Pabi

    Hi Vivian! I just wanted to say that I absolutely loved your project, you did such a great job. I also wanted to say thank you so much for doing this topic, I don’t think I can properly express how grateful I am and how much I appreciate this. As an introvert who is also relatively shy, I find it hard to voice my opinions on the struggles of being an introvert. Similarly to you and many other introverts around the world, I genuinely used to think there was actually something wrong with me, and soon I began to notice how much extroverted people are ‘accommodated’ (for lack of a better word) in our society and the way in which it’s structured. Well done on giving a voice to the voiceless!

  5. April 29, 2019 by Emma.Sheldon

    Vivian: Your project is a model of excellence for everyone here. I am thoroughly impressed. It’s incredibly detailed and well thought out. What’s more, you seemed to hit all the spots to make it a comprehensive mental health research project––personal experience, differences across culture, stigmas, and how to better address introversion. Some of my favorite parts:

    I loved your introvert vs. shy info-graphs. I resonated with them because I’m often labeled as shy when I do not feel I am––especially the one that said introverts are not afraid of conversation but instead, tend to avoid small talk as they prefer deep conversations. I also learned that introverts tend to be more creative? Cool! I never knew that before.

    What I found really eye-opening was your comparison of introvert acceptance in the US and Hong Kong vs countries like Korea and Japan. I’d never thought about a country having a certain personality type, but you’re so right!

    Finally, I thought it was really cool that this presentation was so introvert-empowering. You included introverts that have made history to help this happen. Extroversion is so celebrated in both of our cultures, so I know anyone reading this who is an introvert felt a boost of confidence and pride.

  6. April 29, 2019 by Ellie Pearson

    Vivian, I loved this project. You did such a great job of connecting your topic to yourself and where you live, which got me thinking about this introversion stigma has affected me in my life. I never really gave much thought to how introversion is shamed upon but it obviously is and it shouldn’t be. Thank you for bringing this topic into the light, I’ll definitely be following and encouraging your steps and plan of an action to normalise introversion.

  7. April 29, 2019 by Ellie Pearson

    Vivian, I loved this project. You did such a great job of connecting your topic to yourself and where you live, which got me thinking about this introversion stigma has affected me in my life. I never really gave much thought to how introversion is shamed upon but it obviously is and it shouldn’t be. Thank you for your page, I’ll definitely be following and encouraging your steps and plan of an action to normalise introversion.

  8. May 01, 2019 by Juliana.Shank

    Great job! Clear flow through the project with a nice personal connection. As an introvert, I connected with this project and thought you did a great job coming up with ideas to impact your community.

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