I was just listening to the Talk Nerdy podcast with Santa Maria and there was an interesting little bit about introversion. Here’s a transcript (from Episode 27 with Sandra Daugherty):
Cara: “I’m kind of a semi… introvert-extravert [editor’s note, this is known as an “ambivert”], like I’m somewhere in between, because I’m more than comfortable obviously doing the podcast, I’m more than comfortable getting on a stage in front of a thousand people and giving a talk, but I get really overwhelmed in social situations where there are just like shitloads of people. I’d much prefer like a quiet dinner, or you know, like less is more for me, I don’t like to have hundreds of friends, I have like a small friend group that I like to spend time with. So places like big conferences, unless I’m there on a mission, I feel very lost and a bit like I just want to go hide in my hotel room.”
Sandra: “It sounds like you are just an introvert. I mean, but people think that introverts are just like… want to hide in their cave all the time”
Cara: “Yeah but it’s like you know I’m comfortable being open, I just don’t really like… you know what? it’s about stimulation. It’s like I don’t like a lot of stimulation. I think that’s part of it.”
Sandra: “Like with autism”
Cara: “Yeah. It’s funny because there’s a lot of really interesting research with introverts and extraverts, that they have these weird thresholds in terms of exterior stimuli”
Sandra:”Oh, I haven’t seen this research, bring it on!”
Cara: “Yeah so, I think that there’s, like I remember learning about this in social psychology in grad school, that people who tend to rate high on introversion scales on personality tests, are the same kinds of people who have a hard time, for example, studying with loud music, or music with lyrics, whereas people who are extraverts, it’s really easy for them to study with lots of stimulation outside of them. So they think that part of why some people either can or can’t be around a lot of people is because they have this weird threshold, and once they pass it they become too overwhelmed. I’m the same way, I can’t study unless it’s light classical music, if it’s anything more than that, I’m immersed in the music and I can’t focus on what I’m reading or what I’m writing. What about you?”
Sandra: “I’m just thinking of all the Pandora stations I have that don’t have lyrics so that I can still focus. I generally… I like music so much, but I like silence the most. It took me a long time to realize it, that I don’t always like to listen to music you guys, like I just need earplugs, and all my friends think I’m crazy”
Cara: “Yeah, it’s not uncommon for me to just not turn on anything in the car while I’m driving, and then people are like ‘how can you drive in silence!?'”
Sandra: “Yeah, and then they sit there awkwardly like ‘why isn’t she playing music?'”
I’ve experienced both of those things before (I listen to a lot of instrumental music, and often can’t have music or radio or podcasts on while trying to absorb information, as well I used to drive in silence quite often). Even when I go to the gym I don’t listen to anything, because I actually do have a harder time concentrating on what I’m doing with extra stimulus.
I just went to a social gathering last night at a pub, I wanted to talk to people, but it was just too hard. Forty odd people in one room, plus music playing, I only lasted an hour and a half and then I was just tired and frustrated that I had been unable to really connect with anyone new.
On the flipside, I’ve found that if I go to a pub or a crowded gathering, but I meet someone interesting and socially stimulating, I can go for hours. But when I am not stimulated in the right way, I just get bored, and then tired.