The world is full of all kinds of people, but most of them can be put into one of two categories: extroverts and introverts. Some people are a little more half and half, but most are one or the other.
For years people have thought the causes of introversion or extroversion stemmed from personality types, but a new study has shown that one of the main causes of introversion is actually in the brain. Personality still has something to do with it, but maybe being an introvert or an extrovert is more hard-wired than we think it is!
How the Study Worked
Since the hypothesis was that introversion and extroversion have more to do with the brain than personality, researchers had to look at the brain’s response to certain things. They studied a group of different people, varying in ages and recorded the electrical activity in their brains through an EEG. The study subjects were shown pictures of objects and people. The difference in the brain activity between the introverts and extroverts was interesting.
Reaction to Inanimate Objects is One of the Causes of Introversion
As the study found, extroverts are more stimulated by seeing people, whereas introverts paid more attention to inanimate objects. This finding was discovered by evaluating the brain’s P300 activity. This activity happens when you experience a sudden change in your environment, and the P300 activity happens within 300 milliseconds. Researchers found that when the group was shown pictures of flowers and faces, the extroverts achieved the P300 response from viewing the pictures of faces, while the introverts only achieved the P300 response from photos of flowers.
These responses show that extroverts see people as more significant, while introverts give more emphasis to objects. This doesn’t meant introverts hate people; introverts can like socializing, but they certainly don’t place spending time with others on the same level as an extrovert would. In fact, according to this study’s findings, some introverts may even be indifferent to people.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you are an introvert, you probably don’t feel very understood by those around you. The extroverts in your life always push you to do things you really don’t want to do, like going out and socializing. They just don’t understand why you can’t be “on” all the time like they can. This study opens up a way for you to point out to them that it’s not just about a preference or a personality conflict; your brain is hard-wired to need alone time.
If you talk to your friends one on one and explain your differences, they will most likely understand a little better why you don’t always want to go out or spend a lot of time with others. They won’t be able to completely understand you, just like you can’t completely understand how they can be around people so much and not explode. But they will at least understand why you are different from them. People find it hard to argue against science, and when a new discovery gives you more facts about the causes of introversion, you should definitely use it to your advantage!
What This Study is NOT Saying
This study does not prove that introverts don’t care about people, or that they never want to meet anyone. Introverts care deeply about their loved ones, and can enjoy social gatherings, even the small talk! With the right group of people, an introvert can even walk away from a social activity feeling energized, similar to an extrovert. However, in most cases, an introvert will need time alone for a while after being social, to recharge and feel at peace again.