Introversion and American Culture

“Why did it take you so long to text me back?” “Why don’t you want to go to the party?” “Why are you so quiet?” These are questions that teenagers who don’t socialize readily or who limit their interactions with others may often hear. These teens may be introverts; they prefer the inner world of their own minds to the outer world of sociability and constant stimulation—the world in which extroverts are comfortable.

Psychologists are analyzing the difficulties that American society presents to introverts, who may feel like misfits in their own culture. Our society tends to demean introversion while reinforcing extroversion. Electronic media bombard Americans with sound bites, loud 15-second commercials, and instant messages—a barrage that introverts find jarring. In addition, Americans are encouraged to be team players, be aggressive, and make quick decisions. These pressures can cause deep stress in introverts, who do best when they work alone and consider each move carefully.

In a recent Psychology Today article, psychologist Laurie Helgoe describes how introversion clashes with the culture of many workplaces. If brainstorming sessions are common at one’s office, the introvert may hold back and carefully weigh an idea’s merits before blurting out a suggestion. That way of working may be seen as passive or unimaginative, or the worker may be labeled as boring or even unintelligent. Introverts may have a hard time getting ahead in the business world, unless they learn how to use their strengths of reflection and concentration to their benefit. Some introverts have obviously learned those lessons. In one study, four out of ten top executives tested as introverts.

Related Links

  • Revenge of the Introvert
    This article by Laurie Helgoe describes the difficulties that introverts often face in American society.
    (Source: Psychology Today, September 1, 2010)
  • The Human Mind: Personality
    This brief article provides background on the extroversion/introversion spectrum.
    (Source: BBCi, The Open University, accessed October 31, 2010)
  • Psychological (“Personality”) Types: Extroverts vs. Introverts
    This Web page compares extroverts and introverts, giving the qualities of each—as well as other personality “polarities”: sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, perceiving vs. judging.
    (Source: www.socionics.com; accessed October 31, 2010)
  • Not All Successful CEOs Are Extroverts
    This 2006 article profiled top-performing CEOs who credit their success to inner strength and the ability to think before they act—characteristics usually more associated with introversion.
    (Source: USA Today, June 7, 2006)

26 Comments

  1. Kayla says:

    I’m an extrovert, and I can only imagine how frustrated introverts feel trying to work with me in a group. Silence makes me nervous so I start talking more and end up taking over conversation.

    • Ani =) says:

      I’m an extrovert too and sometimes I talk a bit to much. My sister is an introvert though and she gets really annoyed when I talk to her. Sometimes she doesnt even reply. She’s ok online or anywhere else but she will barely socialize in person. Maybe next time you talk to an introvert, try to make small talk and conversations that dont require so much talking.<3

  2. Zi says:

    I text a lot but when they don’t answer I ask “are you there?” thats why im an extrovert. I talk a lot!

  3. Cheyenne says:

    Every time i talk to my friends i cant wait and i start to get frustrated or ask if they are still there. when i ask that it makes me feal rude bacause they could be doing something important.

  4. Ray says:

    I think they are right about Americans being stressed and agresive but all Americans aren’t like that. all Americans do not make bad or quick choices either.

  5. Olivia says:

    It sounds like introverts, are people who don’t like to do anything before they think about it. They are very self minded people, but don’t have a problem. i don’t see anything wrong with introverts or extroverts. I beleive you can be anyway you wish!

  6. Amelia says:

    i am an extrovert and an introvert. I’m only comfortable around people I really know and If I am hanging around with them I am an extrovert. When I meet new people I dont talk much. Only when Im spoken to.

    • $Ani$ says:

      I am comfortable around anyone at all. Even people that I dont know. I guess it’s because when you get older, you get more consious of who you talk to. When your younger you talk to anyone at all and I guess those things dont matter to me. I just like to meet new people

  7. Lindsay says:

    Well I know I text people like that. It gets me upset when they dont reply and then I feel like I`m being mean when ask why they arnt replying. Somtimes I also feel bad when I leave my phone far away from me or I`m not paying attention to the vibtation and when I look at it i have sometimes three to five messages. I still love how they invented instand messaging. I am extremely extrovert, though I hate it when I`m trying to get work done and the rest of my group is talking. Most of the time I try to get my work done at one point and stuff but still. Im not very shy unless I try to be.

  8. Aidan says:

    We are very good being a good team player I agree we are somtimes aggressive

  9. Adam says:

    I’m both an extrovert and an introvert. I’m an extrovert because when I talk to someone on Facebook, I sometimes impatient for them to reply back. I’m also an introvert because I mostly like working by mnyself at school.

  10. Ray$$$$$$$ says:

    I read the related link pyschological and I think I’m a extrovert but I also think some people could be a extrovert and a introvert. Its up to the person of who they are

  11. $Ani$Amelia$ says:

    Ani: I am an extrovert always
    Amelia: I am an introvert when I meet new people
    Ani: We are best friends and are both comfortable around eachother
    Amelia: yep

  12. m&m says:

    i will try harder to let others talk first and our society shouldent have to be so agressive

  13. emily says:

    our society shouldentd be so agressive

  14. London says:

    i think i am a extrovert. when i go home or when i am taking a test i get frustrated. because it is to quiet so i start to talk to myself to calm down. that why i turn on the tv when i am at home. i hope when i get older that i get rid of it. i am trying to stop it befor i get older.

    • Dara says:

      Great post! Just being aware is at least half the battle. I have been maerird 38 years and have been somewhat unaware for most of that time. I am just now becoming aware and trying to end up with a good, loving relationship that carries us into our final years. In the beginning I was the extrovert and my wife was the introvert. I used alcohol to overcome my shyness. Now my wife is the extrovert and I have become introverted, probably because I quit drinking. I put up with being dragged to her social events and she lets me go out to the lake house by myself. It works! I wish we had had these blogs in the old days. It is important for every couple to be aware of the intricacies of their relationship so they can tweak it from time to time, something I am just figuring out. It takes work, people, it doesn’t just happen!

  15. Samantha says:

    I am an extrovert, because I talk a lot all most every day.I feel bad for the introvert because they keep it all to their selfs and they are tessed for being different I know about this because when I was my first day of shcool I was scared to death and then I met my teacher Mrs.Tanya and I met my best friend in the whole world Kayla and then we talked and I started coming out of my shell and I was not an introvert any more I became an extrovert. When I became an extrovert I met Amelia. So that is why I know all anout bing an introvert.

  16. Tyja says:

    Wow! Im a extrovert by my friends and without them.

  17. amelia says:

    i am a introvert and a extrovert. when im with people I dont know Im an introvert.

  18. jessika and jasmine says:

    we think that this story is interesting and we had learnd some new words. jessika is a intoroversion/ extoroversion and jasmine is a intoroversion. lol smiley face (;P)

    • Jose says:

      Hi, there.I’m an extrovert eangged to an introvert. The funny thing about our relationship is that my fiance has many more friends and a much richer social life than I have. My fiance is older and more experienced than I am he’s very well traveled. That’s because he went to a very social college in another country, where he made friends by osmosis. Many of these friends followed him to the States, and they see each other fairly regularly. Though I like socializing, I’ve lived in isolating places. I simply haven’t got as many friends. The friends I do have I keep up with religiously, but he’s socially busier than I am.I know he’s an introvert because he tells me he much prefers to be alone. Whenever we’re together we avoid huge spaces, crowds and parties. I’m totally fine with that, though I need some socialization or else I get very lonely and depressed. I have long phone conversations with my friends, he hangs out with his independently ski trips, bowling, car rides, etc and we’re very happy together.

  19. Rashid says:

    i am a extrovert im very loud at some points

  20. PopRo says:

    Can people be extroverts if they only socialize online?

  21. Andre says:

    I am a introvert mairerd to an extrovert.It has caused definite stress in our marriage. I can manage a couple of social interactions a month.But, only if they are outside our home, I HATE people coming into my home, I feel like the home is our sanctuary and for my husband and I only.He LOVES just randomly inviting people over and visiting. He doesn’t understand that it literally panics me when people show up at my door, he doesn’t think its a big deal, he just thinks I am self conscious about the house or something. The weird thing was I was able to cope better before I got mairerd and now that I live with him, I feel more out of control because I don’t know what will happen next, so, I am worse then before.Now, I do not want to do anything out of the home or see anybody or have anyone at the house.My inlaws are all extroverts as well and think I am some nasty witch, and tell those around me that I am unsocialable and rude .Which of course, embarrasses me more and makes me want to attend family functions less and less.

  22. Yoshimasa says:

    Thank you for replying!My huasbnd is trying to understand my needs.And me, his.He did try to give me plenty of notice for a family get-together this weekend for Easter. (which I made sure to him how much I appreciated that!) However, talking with my Inlaws will never be an option, I shared with my MIL after I had a painful miscarriage and she told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and just hurry up and try to get pregnant again, I sincerely doubt they will have any empathy for me being an introvert or needing space/quiet sometimes.Unfortunately, my inlaw problems go deeper than just extrovert/introvert.

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