In a culture that links success with the ability to win friends and influence people, introverts may seem at a disadvantage. But research and expert opinion suggest that introverts have singular capacities that defy stereotypes and position them for personal and professional achievement.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.”—Susan Cain
The introvert and extrovert are part of a theory of personality pioneered by 20th-century Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Introversion is a personality type characterized by a focus on internal feelings, as opposed to the extrovert’s external sources of stimulation. Approximately 25-40% of people are introverts.1
Some experts now believe that introversion has four variations: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained.2 Introverts can be a blend of these types, because of course there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to personality. Introverts often define themselves as thoughtful or simply more comfortable in small groups or in solitude.
And researchers now acknowledge that introverts enjoy strengths often overlooked in the past. The introvert’s rich inner life, deliberation, caution, and ability to value contributions from others can pay off in significant ways. Here are five benefits of being an introvert:
“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”—Audrey Hepburn
The extrovert’s focus on social engagement can sometimes drown out his or her inner voice. Introverts tend to be more comfortable spending time alone, which incubates creativity. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says, “Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions—from the theory of evolution to Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer—came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there.”3
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.”—Stephen Hawking
Introverts excel in academic environments. “At the university level, introversion predicts academic performance better than cognitive ability,” author Cain writes. “One study tested 141 college students’ knowledge of 20 different subjects … and found that introverts knew more than the extroverts about every single one of them. Introverts receive disproportionate numbers of graduate degrees, National Merit Scholarship finalist positions … They outperform extroverts on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, an assessment of critical thinking widely used by businesses for hiring and promotion.”4
“For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.”—Jonathan Rauch
Because introverts tend to think before speaking or acting, they are less prone to impulsive behavior and the kinds of accidents that can result. A focus on internal rather than external cues may curtail overeating.5 And being tuned in to the need to recharge, introverts tend to get more sleep than extroverts.
“I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.”—Bob Newhart
In the global workplace, an introvert’s low-key personality may work well within cultures that place less emphasis than the U.S. does on the traits of the extrovert. Introverts also may excel at communicating via social media,6 a top skill in today’s world of influencers and connection.
“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”—Susan Cain
Introverts are more likely to be effective leaders in organizations that encourage workers to contribute ideas. Introverts’ listening skills may draw top results from their teams.7 Introverts also are observant, noticing details and connections others may not—including contributions that other introverts can make.
“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”—Anne Lamott
Walden University’s online psychology degree programs provide rich insights into the real-world application of the theories of personality. As an introvert or extrovert, you can follow a career in psychology through Walden’s general program or one of its relevant concentrations:
As a psychology major, you’ll gain the knowledge to help prepare you for careers that include adult day care worker, alcohol counselor, group home worker, researcher, and court liaison. You may also wish to use your Bachelor of Science in Psychology as a stepping-stone to pursuing an MS in Psychology or even a PhD in Psychology.
If you’re in search of a meaningful career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider a degree in psychology. With multiple concentrations and an online platform that lets you set your schedule, Walden’s School of Psychology can help you blaze your path to success—however you define it.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Psychology degree program online with multiple concentrations to help you meet your personal and professional goals. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a flexible, convenient format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.