Do western societies discriminate against introverts?

Alternative title: introverts’ helpless inability to communicate their uniqueness.

All people are unique (although that according to Monty Python: “all the others may be different, but I am not”). Extroverts, however, seem to exhibit their uniqueness a bit more effectively than the introverts. The way modern societies are built, especially in the western world, benefit people who stand out in workplace, education, as well as in every social interaction.

In an environment where there are countless units – individuals offered for communication; the pace is getting faster; communication is getting wider but not deeper; there is information overload and obviously increased competition, the only way to communicate effectively is to just stand out. Extroverts can do it better as it is their natural attitude to find energy and thrive in busy, interactive and team environments.

Conversely to what it used to be in the past, nowadays, there is not the time for an introvert to be “discovered”. Besides, it tends almost to be shameful for someone to be an introvert or it can even be regarded as a weakness.  Nevertheless, researches show that there is no positive correlation between extraversion and work performance generally, apart from specific areas such as sales (but the same applies for the introverts in other fields).

Is there indeed a bias? This linked BBC article is highly recommended.

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9 Responses to Do western societies discriminate against introverts?

  1. rsb80 says:

    The notion of society itself (Western or otherwise) is in a sense opposed to the introvert tendency.

  2. Torei Chin says:

    Extroverts tend to be show-offs and narcissists. However, they promote themselves better than introverts do, so many extroverts are in highly paid jobs that they actually have no real qualifications for. They win the “popularity” contest, so they get ahead, and it takes a long time to recognize how incompetent they actually are. Extroverts have a lot of social appeal, but little inner substance. “All show and no go”.

  3. Thank you for your comment. I certainly agree that extroverts promote themselves better than introverts do. I do not think however, that extroverts are incompetent or lack inner substance. It is just that they cannot “promote” their inner substance. Someone could argue that introverts lack “outer” substance, which I believe is equally important, and perhaps underestimated by the introverts. Similarly, that could be seen as a point of discrimination against extroverts. C.G.Jung, who introduced these terms in psychology and in everyday language describes much better than I do here, why there is no such matter of comparison of overall competence between introverts and extroverts and dissolves the myth of the inner richness of the introverts. (The book is called “Psychological Types”, 1921).

  4. Lissa Rabon says:

    This was a mind blowing video to listen to. Thank you so much for sharing it. to be validated in this way is truly awesome.

  5. E.J. says:

    What a wonderful video and discussion you have going here. I guess I am what Susan referred to as an ambivert, spending half of my time living and enjoying an extroverted life, and the other half living my beloved and much needed introverted life (I am an artist but also run a seasonal gallery in a tourist area). I never really thought about it much, but was always confused when people referred to me an extrovert, while I viewed myself as an introvert. Your post gave me much to think about, and I loved Susan’s presentation. I certainly agree with her that we need both, and that our society does unreasonably favor extroverts, to its detriment.

  6. Thanks for your nice words.
    Indeed, as you mentioned we are all ambiverts. Besides, the attitude of the conscious and the attitude of the unconscious can be conflicting to each other too. In other words, a very sociable person can have a small number of long term relationships, as the introverted attitude of his/her unconscious ‘desires” to be more withdrawn and in the long term finally prevails. Unconscious attitude can also take over consciousness in extreme, life-threatening, or primitive situations. For example, an entirely shy person can show amazing social skills and interest in their social environment when they have to deal with a potential harmful situation and so on…

  7. tennis45 says:

    There’s definitely a bias toward extroverts. However, I think people are slowly starting to see the true value of introverts in Western society.
    Introverts can be great communicators. I find that a lot of introverts are writers and they’re often excellent writers because they spend so much time alone honing their craft. Our society will always need writers, especially with information overload. On top of that, introverts are the thinkers, and as long as they are willing to communicate their thoughts to others, they can be just as successful as extroverts. The way I see it, extroverts and introverts just have different approaches.

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