If you are a quiet person, I’m sure that you have read countless articles about introversion and its strengths and weaknesses. It turns out that there is one introvert advantage you probably had no idea about.
There are numerous powers that the introvert personality hides. They may not be as obvious as extroverts’ intimidating confidence, ease of communication, and leadership skills, but they are still there.
Other people tend to underestimate the positive qualities of the quiet ones, confusing their introverted nature with arrogance and a lack of empathy.
Now, a study published in the journal Social Psychology completely smashes all those stereotypes, revealing a neglected introvert advantage. It turns out that introverts who are prone to melancholy are natural social psychologists!
Researchers at Yale University questioned over 1000 people. The questions were related to social behavior, i.e. how would an average person think, feel, or behave in a particular social situation. All those questions had a correct answer, based on the results of other studies.
Then, the research team picked those participants whose answers were the most accurate and conducted experiments to find out their personality traits.
To no surprise, it turned out that subjects’ intelligence was among the most important predictors of correct answers, as well as the willingness to solve complex problems. The experiments also showed that introverts gave a higher number of correct answers than extroverts.
But the most surprising finding of all was that the participants with low self-esteem and higher levels of loneliness also gave more accurate answers.
It’s also worth noting that the subjects who gave the most accurate answers had no formal psychology training.
The Neglected Introvert Advantage
At first, this conclusion may seem unlikely. How could a lonely melancholic introvert be good at reading and understanding social behaviors? However, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
You see, even though we introverts prefer to stay quiet in social settings, we are observers. We like to watch people and notice the nuances of their behavior. We also spend a good portion of our time analyzing what we see.
Thus, an introvert is more likely to think about the causes of someone’s behavior as well as to notice possible inconsistencies between people’s words and non-verbal cues. This helps the quiet ones understand if someone might be lying or having a hidden agenda.
An extrovert, on the other hand, actively participates in the social interaction and has no time to delve into all these details. This, of course, doesn’t mean that extroverts are less intelligent than introverts. They are just more tuned into their environment and thus ‘live in the moment’.
Introverts are quiet observers who tend to distance themselves from the social situation they are in, which gives them the opportunity to objectively evaluate the behaviors of the people they are engaged with.
The Underestimated Role of Introverts in Society
The authors of the study emphasize that natural social psychologists play a very important role in society and it’s a shame that quiet people rarely make it into the positions of influence.
“These ‘natural’ social psychologists, because they better understand social phenomena, may be able to interpret and even predict social changes in our society — maybe they are exactly what is missing from our current governance and positions of power,” said Anton Gollwitzer of Yale University, a co-author of the study.
Maybe our society has had enough of narcissism, overwhelming assertiveness, and aggressive social skills and needs more of quiet confidence, empathy, and deep thinking. We could be living in a better world if there were more introverts in society’s positions of power.
But the irony is that quiet people are usually uninterested in gaining power and leadership, so they tend to choose less influential careers. So it seems that regardless of the above-mentioned introvert advantage, we will continue to live in an extroverted society, as we always did.
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