Introvert well-being

Some years ago, a Wall Street Journal article argued that introverts are happier when acting or behaving like extroverts, who, the article maintained, are happier than introverts generally. This conclusion was repeating a common understanding not popularly questioned until Susan Cain in her 2012 book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking and in her TED talk, where she argued that, specifically in the employment setting, introverts have unique skills that can establish their sense of achievement and satisfaction if the organization will accommodate them. Accommodation simply means managerial awareness of psychological distinctions that can better tap the contributions of all personalities, including introverts, who are thoughtful, observant, detail-oriented, circumspect, imaginative, and critical thinkers and excellent trouble-shooters.

A psychological trial at the University of Australia, first reported in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, now shows that introverts are better off not acting or behaving like extroverts.

As the researchers conclude: “dispositional introverts may reap fewer wellbeing benefits, and perhaps even incur some wellbeing costs, from acting more extroverted.” The negative observation by introverts was not merely a memory bias, having been told over and over in the past that extroverts are always happier. Rather, researchers noted that the environment fostered by managers, what researchers called “intervention,” directly affects outcomes.

Introvert personality preferences should be accommodated to help foster the preferred outcomes of the organization. “By allowing more freedom to return to an introverted ‘restorative niche,’ a less intensive intervention might also result in fewer costs to negative affect, authenticity and tiredness.”

The conclusion is more reserved that Cain’s, to be sure, but helps begin to establish a more objective view of the issues involved.