Introverts understand people better than extroverts do, a Yale study found.

There’s this awkward stereotype about introverted people that says they aren’t good at understanding social communications. And probably that’s why they just keep to themselves. Extroverted people, on the other hand, are outgoing, and seem to mingle very well with everyone, but does it mean they really do understand people during their interactions? Not really! According to a Yale study, introverts are better off at understanding people than extroverts do. So if you’re seeking to understand human psychology, ask a wallflower rather than a party animal.



Introversion Vs Extroversion

We generally have the tendency of thinking that personality traits are either good or bad. For instance, being neurotic, is somewhere stuck between joyful and peachy. And being extroverted generally helps you get ahead, you seem to enjoy life than your introverted counterparts. However, several studies suggests that these premises are not typical, and just as every positive trait has its own downsides, negative traits has some upsides, too.

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And no matter what your personality, there’s always a “gain or lose” formula to your lifestyle. Being anxious, for instance, always prevents you from enjoying life and taking risks. This also keeps you safe and improves your memory, and being introverted is quite similar. Of course, introversion is definitely a handicap when it comes to stepping out and being yourself. And studies suggest that people generally assume you’re a potential leadership material if you’re outspoken.

In the 2018 Yale study, researchers found that introverted people don’t enjoy people as much as extroverts, but they understand people in general. As it turns out, the shy fellow who seems not to be everyone’s favorite buddy, has a much more accurate understanding of human psychology than the free flow freak.



Introversion: That’s Natural Psychology

There are several methods that psychologists apply whenever they seek to better understand the intricacies of human behavior. And it seems they saved themselves the stress when they sought to ask people who are generally good at “natural psychology,” introverts.

For their study, Yale researchers recruited almost a thousand volunteers and had them accurately answer questions about some well-established psychological truths. Questions like: “do you work harder in groups or individually?” or “does taking out your frustrations on a pillow or stuffed toy make you feel better when you’re angry?” Researchers later on gave the volunteers a series of personality tests. Surprisingly, it turned out that the introverted volunteers outperformed the extroverted ones. 

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The catch? “It could be that the melancholic introverted people are spending more time observing human nature than those who are busy interacting with others, or they are more accurate at introspection because they have fewer motivational biases,” says Anton Gollwitzer, a psychologist at Yale University, and study co-author, as a theory. “Either way, though, this demonstrates an unappreciated strength of introverts.”



Undervalued Introspective Leaders

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This finding seems like a nice piece of trivia, Gollwitzer notes. But there’s still weight of evidence that people generally have the tendency of choosing confident and outspoken individuals as leaders. However, advance research — including this latest from Yale — suggests that introverts have some undervalued traits of leadership. For instance, introverts have proven to outperform extroverts in crisis in other studies.

What this Yale study posits is that, introverts are more insightful when it comes to understanding the motivation and behaviors of other people — an underlying skill for effective leadership. So don’t confuse this research and assume that if you’re antisocial, you’ll be a suitable candidate for applied psychology. Instead, you should envision your lonely and keen observations as a signal that you’re capable of transformational leadership than the average partygoer.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jan 08, 2022.

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