The title of this weeks blog pays homage to Yoko Ono, who had the quote- “You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my head.” She’s talking about introversion, which is also what I want to talk about.
I was having a little trouble trying to figure out a topic, so I did a little internet surfing. I ended up on the BuzzFeed website and came across an article that lead me to this week’s conversation; introversion. It had a fun little test I could take to see what kind of introvert I was so of course I took it and my results were nothing surprising. The quiz used a newly proposed “STAR” model of introversion proposed by Professor Jonathan Cheek, a personality psychologist at Wellesley College. STAR stands for social, thinking, anxious and restrained introversion and according to my answers I was mostly a social introvert but also a thinking introvert. Now, I didn’t just want to base all of my research on an article that was also probably written by a student so I did some more (scholarly) digging of my own on how introverts interact with society compared to an extrovert. I’ll also leave the BuzzFeed link with my other references if any other introverts out there want to take the test for themselves. (1)
What It Is:
1. a shy person.
2. Psychology. a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings (opposed to extrovert).
What I found:
According to this article, “Happiness, introversion–extraversion and happy introverts” subjective well-being, or happiness, is not necessarily a unitary construct. The researchers argued that subjective well-being has at least three components: positive affect, negative affect and cognitive variables such as satisfaction with life. Negative affect positively correlates with neuroticism and positive affect correlates strongly with extraversion. Most measures of happiness are also known to correlate positively with extraversion. A recent meta-analysis done by the article reported correlations between extraversion and several measures of subjective well-being between 0.17 and 0.27, although in studies with the Oxford happiness inventory (OHI) happiness and extraversion are typically associated with correlation coefficients of about 0.45. So why the discrepancy? For such reasons, extraversion has come to be regarded as the individual personality difference that is most strongly and positively allied with happiness. In a longitudinal study done by other researchers mentioned as a secondary source, it was reported that extraversion predicted positive affect 17 years later. It is also mentioned in the paper by another contributor that the idea of happiness, or more specifically positive emotionality, forms the core of the trait of extraversion.
From this perspective it was seen that the main characteristic of an extravert is social activity, which can be a major source of happiness and the paper investigated some motivational factors that might lead young people to engage in a variety of leisure pursuits. As such activities are voluntary and not generally undertaken for material gain, it seemed reasonable to assume that they were carried out for the happiness or satisfaction that they are expected to generate. The most widely applicable explanation for taking part in leisure activities were found to be the opportunity they created for social interaction, which provided further support for a link between happiness and the sociability that characterises the extravert. But how come introverts are happy too?
Well, the results were not fully consistent with the authors personal observation. They were also at variance with the ideas of those classical philosophers, like Epicurus and Aristotle, who had given the greatest attention to human happiness. Their prescriptions for happiness involved withdrawal from many of the social aspects of life and living a quiet, peaceful existence in relative solitude. The same could be said of the ways of life commended by most religious systems. Their aim is to provide great personal happiness for believers, either in life or after death, and medieval anchorites and hermits believed that total isolation was the way to achieve it. Nevertheless, religious systems usually prescribe detailed “codes” of social behaviour that may include taking part in regular corporate worship. This could be a source of social support that may in turn enhance well-being. However, these types of practises are generally regarded as duties or obligations and not as the primary source of religious happiness; religious happiness comes from a personal relationship with the Divine. It was also noteworthy that the majority of those who report intense religious experiences say that occurred in solitude like when in a meditative state.
Introverts and extraverts differ in their primary orientations. The introvert’s main concern is to establish autonomy and independence of other people, whereas the extravert looks towards and seeks the company of others. It was further that explained that there difference between introverts and extraverts in terms of cortical arousal. The extravert needs to have people to talk to, craves excitement and opportunities for physical activity, and engages in many social interactions, which are a major source of happiness. The extravert is not easily aroused and, in compensation, seeks stimulation in the company of many people. In contrast, the introvert has a low arousal threshold and can function without the need for high levels of external stimulation. The introvert is usually represented as a quiet individual who is fond of “being with one’s self” rather than other people, can be seen as distant except to intimate friends, and doesn’t like excitement. The view that extraversion is a preferred state has come to be widely accepted among our society. In consequence, introverts are sometimes represented as withdrawn, isolated or lacking social competencies, rather than as individuals who seek autonomy or independence and that concentration on the link between extraversion and happiness could have led researchers to overlook states of happiness enjoyed by introverts that do not involve a great deal of social interplay.
This distinction relies on individual differences in the need for stimulation, but is stimulation the same as happiness? Introverts may not derive much satisfaction from gregarious situations because they do not need the external stimulation provided by the presence of many people (otherwise known as the dreaded small talk) but they could be no less open to other kinds of happiness. Extraverts may need many people around them, introverts may be more selective and focus on establishing individual affiliative relationships with a few special friends and experience higher levels of empathy with them. Introverts may have highly satisfying leisure activities that can be carried out in relative isolation. They may also enjoy an intense inner life, based on intellectual, musical or religious activities which give them much to think about without the need to rely on other people
I feel like this idea of the introvert and how they obtain happiness is very relevant and needs to be taken into account when addressing social situations. We may not have the energy to be out in public places with our friends for as long and may find more happiness in an afternoon alone or a good book but I agree that our degree of happiness isn’t subordinate to those that identify as extroverts. The author concluded that the variables that most closely represented happiness in life was self-esteem, life regard, mental stability and life orientation. (3)
(1) Oakes, K., & Curry, P. (2015, October 19). What Kind Of Introvert Are You? Retrieved February 02, 2017, from https://www.buzzfeed.com/kellyoakes/what-kind-of-introvert-are-you?utm_term=.tqKgM02yB#.mt0zW6Pr2
(2) Introvert. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2017, from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/introvert
(3) Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2001). Happiness, introversion–extraversion and happy introverts. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(4), 595-608. doi:10.1016/s0191-8869(00)00058-1
(4) Photo. Dunn, S. (n.d.). Universe Within [Photograph found in WordPress]. Retrieved February 2, 2017, from https://stephaniedunn86.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/cropped-cropped-universe_within_031.jpg (Originally photographed 2015, March 27)