My friend Dan Hedges dubbed this category of books as “neurotrash”, which I think is an excellent term. And yet, I keep reading and enjoying them, and I enjoyed this one more than most.
The gist of the book is that although the American ideal seems to be a friendly, extroverted person, introverts have a lot to offer. Here are some things I found interesting:
– The definition of an introvert is a bit fuzzy. Generally, introverts prefer less stimulation than extroverts, tend to work more slowly and deliberately, and enjoy having fewer, but closer, friends. They also need time alone to recharge, as opposed to extroverts who recharge by being around people.
I was pretty sure that I was an introvert before reading the book, and that’s still the case. I do enjoy going out a little more than some others I know, and I enjoy traveling and meeting people, but only if there’s a well-defined relationship between us. For example: going to NI events is good, because I can talk about LabVIEW with people and ask how they use it. Going to a bar is bad, because I don’t know what on earth to talk about. (I am also extremely conflict-averse, another introverted trait)
– The book covers a lot of studies where introverts can be more effective than extroverts. One showed that it seems that introverts are better leaders when the people they’re leading are initiative-takers, because they tend to be better listeners.
– I’ve read this before, but: group brainstorming is less effective than individual brainstorming. One reason is the fear of public humiliation, even if you try to defuse that by saying “all ideas are good ideas”, etc. Interestingly, online brainstorming seems to work the best of all.
– The book talked about the study where if a person is in a group with three other actors, and the group is asked a question and the actors answer deliberately incorrectly, the person is more likely to give the wrong answer. (in one version, the person gave the correct answer 95% of the time when there were no actors, but only 25% of the time if all the actors confidently gave the wrong answer!) They then did a followup with an fMRI machine to try to figure out whether the people were knowingly giving wrong answers because of peer pressure, or whether their perception was actually being altered…and it seems like their perception was being altered! Crazy.
– Babies who are “high-reactive” (who react more strongly to new sights and sounds) tend to grow up to become introverts.
– A helpful tip for introverts and extroverts is to try to find your sweet spot for how much stimulation you like, and work to stay near it. Just keeping in mind that you have a sweet spot is helpful.
– It seems like what makes an extrovert an extrovert is a tendency to seek rewards (economic, political, hedonistic), because they experience more pleasure and excitement than introverts do. They get an extra buzz from achieving their goals.
– A study found that men who are shown erotic pictures just before they gamble took more risks than those shown neutral pictures. This surprises me not at all. (the lesson is: when making a big decision…don’t look at erotic pictures?)
– It’s a good idea to create “restorative niches” for yourself where you can relax and be yourself. (these can be physical places or specific times throughout the day)
– In general, introverts like people they meet in friendly contexts, while extroverts prefer those they’re in competition with.
I enjoyed the book a lot and would recommend it if you’re into neurotrash! 🙂