In a society that is biased toward extroversion, a University of Georgia psychology professor said introverts have to learn to adapt.
Keith Campbell, a professor and the psychology department head, gave a lecture on being an introvert in an extroverted world in the Zell B. Miller Learning Center Reading Room Tuesday afternoon. The event was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and brought forth about 60 people.
As he took a sip of his coffee, or “extroversion in a cup” as he called it, Campbell said extroversion is becoming increasingly important. He said extroversion is strongly correlated with likability and popularity.
“What you see, extroversion really matters to being liked,” Campbell said. “People who are extroverted are liked more. This is with adolescence. So does being nice and not so depressed but these are smaller, extroversion is big on likability. You find a similar thing with popularity, except popular people are a little less conscientious and not so nice. Think about it. Who were the cool kids in high school? The outgoing people who did bad things.”
An introvert himself, Campbell talked about his 5 R’s for introverts in an extroverted world. The 5 R’s — retool, repeat, re-energize, recalibrate and re-frame — are ways an introvert can thrust themselves into a social situation without it seeming so daunting.
Retool is just being able to appear extroverted in short bursts. Campbell said extroversion is important in job interviews and dating.
“If you’re introverted, extroversion has to be something you can do sometimes,” he said. “It has to be a tool in the tool box.”
Repeat is practicing extroversion and getting better at social situations, Campbell said.
Campbell also said it’s important to set aside some time to re-energize.
“Whenever we act in ways that are different than we are, it takes energy,” he said. “It’s like working a muscle. It’s like doing push-ups. You get tired. You’re going to have to have rest periods.”
Campbell said recalibration is getting introverts to be better at affective forecasting, to be better at guessing how they’re going to feel in a social situation.
“Studies show people who are introverted, when they imagined being in a social situation, they thought it would make them feel bad,” Campbell said. “They thought it would be distressing and it would take too much energy and they had no interest in doing it. After they did it, they tended to say ‘That was actually kind of fun to hang out with people. I’m tired but it’s actually kind of fun.’”
Campbell said introverts can re-frame their views of events to better cope with social situations. He said making certain situations less about sociability, an extroverted trait, and more about ideas and conscientiousness, introverted traits, could help introverts feel comfortable in these situations.
Campbell also gave tips to faculty on how to bring those introverted students into the conversation.
He suggested professors notice and reach out to the more reserved students to bring them into the discussion. Campbell also emphasized the importance of not only using teaching techniques that rely heavily on participation and team learning because it can lead to a bias towards extroverted students.
Campbell defined introversion and extroversion in the same way Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who advanced the idea of introversion and extroversion, defined them.
“He broke the world down into introverts and extraverts,” Campbell said. “His definition was introversion was somebody with a contemplative life, somebody who got energy from being alone. So you’re by yourself, you get energy. You’re in a social situation, your energy gets drained. Extroverts, in contrast, live more of an active life. You get energy from being with people and you lose energy when you’re alone.”
Extraverts tend to have outgoing, assertive and social personalities. Introverts tend to have shy, quiet and reserved personalities.
Laura Scott, a graduate student studying French literature from Marietta, said she came to the lecture because the topic interested her and she thought it could help her do her job as a teaching assistant, especially since she teaches foreign language classes which heavily rely on participation and communication.
“I came because extroversion-introversion is something that interests me personally and I’m also in grad school, so I’m a student but I also work as a T.A.,” Scott said. “Since I do some teaching, it’s really interesting to me to learn new ways of including all of my students.”
Scott said she enjoyed the lecture and found it interesting. She said Campbell’s tips for introverts so they can better adapt to extroverted situations left her wondering how extraverts could better adapt to introverted situations.
“I guess I would be interested too to see what ways extraverts have to adapt toward introvert-targeted situations,” Scott said. “But I guess since he’s talking about an extroverted world, maybe introverts have to adapt more. I thought it was really interesting. It was great.”