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The Extrovert Ideal and the Financial Crisis — 6 Comments

  1. actually, the clearest genetic manifestation of the two i’ve come across is the physical male and female…….male anatomy being outward potency leading and driving males to initiate action, compared to female anatomical potency focused mostly inside, creating female tendency to protect, enclose, as in the womb, the home, and, maybe even more time for spiritual, reflective thought. (males, often moving distances for hunting, facing immediate danger, needing to plan action strategies and often act quickly and aggressively for survival, naturally more often than women)

    does that come up in the book, at all?

    • Cain doesn’t mention a break-down by gender, though i have been curious about this overlap as well. What i have found so far is that there is no correlation between gender and extroversion/introversion.

  2. speaking from my origins,i remember both words as disapproved: introverts, of course, for ‘not contributing’ and being ‘weak’, vs. extroverts being bullying, rough-neck, self-centered, disturbing the peace….

    still, the latter were the preferred leader and celebrity (class president, ‘most likely-to-succeed’, etc)

    the description that worked for me was ‘inhibited’ vs. ‘uninhibited’……implying: ability to comfortably share talents and feelings freely…….(which leads to shared responsibility for our own lives)

  3. i see extroversion and introversion not as inborn traits, but culturally sanctioned responses to distress, fear and shame. i’d rather call them aggression vs. yielding power totally. the healthy state of being (or ‘type’) is a more balanced combination of the 2 extremes, as is DELEGATING and SHARING POWER.

    one who easily accesses power must do so in order to distribute it to all around them, to all who wish for some. i believe that means everybody, each according to their need, desire and passion.

    i keep coming back to EVER-FLOWING, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE to and from all living creatures, as the core and key to all of this.

    knowing there’s no clear answer available, i find some hope and inspiration in the idea that ASKING the QUESTIONS WITHOUT NEEDING/DEMANDING ANSWERS is the best we can do and likely the most useful thing……reflecting the paradox and mysterious unknown core of the universe and life.

    • Interesting point, Shira, that extroversion and introversion are cultural impositions. Maybe they are caricatures of something inborn? It seems like there are people who are more naturally outgoing than others… And then again, nature and nurture are so intertwined in us humans, it would be difficult to tell what is what…

      I think your comment does point to something that i’ve been musing about after i wrote the post: There seems to be more that’s needed to cause the financial robberies than extroversion: a lack of empathy. That is not a characteristic of extroverts… So even if extroversion is an inborn trait, it’s not enough to create the power-grabbing multibillionaires of the financial services industry…

    • I have now finished reading Cain’s book. She has provided quite a bit of evidence that introversion and extroversion are indeed based on something inborn. For example, Jerome Kagan has documented this with a longitudinal study that shows that behavior in four-month-old infants predicts later observance of introverted behavior (described in chapter 4 of Cain’s book). Basically, introverts have an amygdala that is more active – we react more to stimulation from the environment. Twin studies suggest similar results.

      Cain writes (105):

      None of these studies is perfect, but the results have consistently suggested that introversion and extroversion, like other major personality traits such as agreeableness and conscientiousness, are about 40 to 50 percent heritable.

      Of course, this does not mean, it’s all nature! Or as Cain puts it (109):

      To ask whether it’s nature or nurture, says Kagan, is like asking whether a blizzard is caused by temperature or humidity. It’s the intricate interaction between the two that makes us who we are.

      What becomes clear in the book, though, is that because of the importance of the extrovert ideal, many of us introverts learn to be pseudo-extroverts. I think that’s where the cultural influence is particularly strong. This often comes at a cost: There are, for example, health impacts of being exposed for longer than we enjoy to an environment that is too stimulating for an introvert.

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