It doesn’t matter why introverts prefer working the way we do, the jury is in and the verdict is clear. These quieter types can be equally as good leaders, speakers, and entrepreneurs as the more outspoken among us.
But in case you’re curious, science has recently made a series of discoveries about just why introverts are the way they are, uncovering the underlying biology of the personality profile. Writer Derek Walter recently outlined much of it for a fascinating deep dive into the subject for author Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution website.
A tour of the the introvert brain
“There’s a lot of science about why introverts are the way they are. Research is ongoing, but we can say with confidence that much of the core of our personality is framed by our genetics,” he writes before outlining a number of studies on the subject, such as 2005 research that found extroverts’ brains reacted more strongly to gambling, suggesting that they are more wired for the rewards of this type of thrill-seeking.
But it’s not just that introvert brains might be less turned on by some types of risk-taking. It also appears they have a more hair trigger response to stimulation of all kinds.
“In The Introvert Advantage, Marti Olsen Laney argues that the level of blood flow to the brain varies highly between introverts and extroverts. Introverts, according to this research, have stronger blood flow, which leads to greater sensitivity to stimulation,” Walter also notes. “That’s why you may want to ditch the loud, boisterous party long before your extroverted friends ever will.”
The bottom line: “introverts are affected differently by crowds, group activities, and other types of simulation,” according to Walter. And that’s not just at the level of experience. That’s also true when it comes to their fundamental neurobiology. Introverts brains are physically different.
But don’t go too far with biological determinism.
This rundown of the current science of the introvert-extrovert divide is only a fraction of Walter’s long article, however. As much as knowing this biology may comfort some introverts, Walters also cautions that it’s easy to take biological determinism too far and end up limiting yourself. Just because your brain tends to function a certain way doesn’t mean you’re stuck with any resultant behavior patterns you might find limiting, he insists.
Other experts agree with him, cautioning that an obsession with knowing and identifying with your personality type can blind you to the reality that our behavior, and therefore our personality type, can shift markedly throughout our lives. Just because your brain is easily over-jangled by parties doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful social butterfly if you’re sufficiently motivated.
So don’t let knowing about biological difference trap you into thinking you’re stuck within a narrow range of behavior associated with your type. People can and do change. Science shows that too.