For a long time people that know me have been telling me they think I may suffer from depression and/or anxiety.  So much so that I began to believe it.  I am still somewhat open to the possibility, but my position on the matter is: so what?  I'm not hurting anyone.  I'm certainly not going to alter my body chemistry just because it doesn't match what is "normal".  Where would evolution have gone if all species could change themselves back to "normal"?

 

Last night I read this article about shyness, introversion, and social anxiety.  It confirmed many of my thoughts on the matter, and got me to research introversion more.  Before, I had been aware of the general idea of introversion/extroversion (never studied psychology that much), but I did not know that it could be such a specific and pervasive behavioral trait.  After much reading I found that on the introvert/extrovert scale, I'm about as introverted as you could possibly get.

 

Anyway, in the article the author references Winifred Gallagher: “The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement."  It got me thinking about religion.  Are introverts more likely to analyze the inconsistencies and problems with religion before (or even after) committing to one?  How many atheists are introverts?

 

So, do you consider yourself more introverted than extroverted?  A poll would be awesome, but I don't see an option to add one.

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I don't know if that really makes sense.  If it isn't about comfort, what drives the preference?  I can't come up with any reason that doesn't describe comfort.

 

I prefer to watch my soccer matches online each week, rather than going to say, a rowdy noisy bar or sports pub. This doesn't have anything to do with shyness, but rather finding the rowdy, noisy and alcohol laden atmosphere unemployable and annoying to a certain extent. This preference isn't driven by social discomfort. Perhaps it's comfort in the context of enjoyability, but this is quite different than social comfort.

 

Self esteem can play into introversion, but isn't a rule by any stretch. My wife and I are certainly more introverted than not. But while my self esteem is good, hers can certainly be lower at times.Actually, when I was really shy, I don't remember feeling low self esteem. Maybe, hard dealt, but I always felt I would be fine and could overcome. My wife however, is the victim of being ignored and unsupported through her youth. I'd say she's slightly more introverted than me, but she has more friends than I do. She feels a need to be wanted and accepted. She has a facebook, and i don't. She desires friends to feel better, whereas I feel that friends are a good thing but that I'm fine without them, or at least with only my closest friends.I can certainly see someone with low self esteem overcompensating to  the point of being an extravert in order to gain attention.

 

I find it hard to imagine a true extrovert having low self-esteem and low self-confidence.  That would suggest a disconnect from the social situations in which they are participating, which would be indicative of introversion.

 

It shouldn't mean that.  There are lots of variables at play.  A person can turn inwardly our outwardly, for better or worse, with just about any problem.  Where one person's lack of confidence may cause them to dodge attention, it may cause another to over compensate and actively seek attention and interaction.  There are lots of ways a person can act on low self-esteem, or that low self-esteem can cause a person to act.

 

I don't know if that really makes sense.  If it isn't about comfort, what drives the preference?  I can't come up with any reason that doesn't describe comfort.

 

The quote doesn't say that it's not about comfort; it says that it's not (always) about discomfort.  I am not discomfortable with social groupings and settings; however, I find them less enjoyable, on average, than time to myself, or at the very least spent in more intimate settings.  It's the difference between a person moving toward their greatest preference as opposed to shying away from their greatest discomfort.  

 

Similar statements could be made about extraversion.  Some extraverts are afraid to be alone; however, not all extraverts experience discomfort with solitary activities.  They may merely prefer more social activities.

 

I just don't believe that the terms were ever meant to delve so deep as to cover this much psychological background.  It should describe a very basic trait of where people find greater stimulation or satisfaction.

 

This suggests the opposite, that preference is about comfort.  This alludes to a great point of interest.  Truly introverted people should remain introverted even in their most comfortable social setting.

 

I'm not sure there is such a thing as 'truly introverted' in such an extreme sense.  I think pretty much everyone needs some level of balance in their lives, but introversion, extraversion, and, if one wanted to include it, ambiversion describe a statistical tendency in individuals.  The statement would be interesting if it could be verified, but I'm not confident that extraversion/ introversion is actually relevant to people feeling increased comfort sharing personal feelings.  I'd wager that's pretty even across the board if we were putting it down to a bet.

 

The problem I have with claiming that some people are just innately not stimulated/fulfilled by socializing is that it's like claiming people are not reinforced by reinforcement.

 

I don't really understand what you mean by this.  The second point is a complete tautology; whereas the first is not.  Socializing does not intrinsically lead to fulfillment or stimulation.  You are also changing the statement.  You can't just switch things to positives or negatives.  It can change the meaning.  To say that not everyone is stimulated or fulfilled in the same way does not equate to people not being stimulated or fulfilled by socializing.  It can simply be a question of degrees.  I am far more fulfilled by solitary pursuits than I am by social activities.  That is not to say that I am never fulfilled by social activities.  I voluntarily spend about one percent of my waking hours in social situations.  I spend an additional four percent of my waking time in social situations at work, and I'm okay with that.  For the other ninety-five percent, I'd much rather spend it by myself or in extremely limited company (generally by myself though).

 

This is, admittedly, just as speculative as what I have proposed.

 

It is, which is why I felt a little wary typing it.  It's based off of anecdotal evidence, so I won't claim in the slightest that it's authoritative when it isn't.  I ultimately decided to include it because I wanted to present a different perspective; however, I should have been more clear on the nature of those statements.

 

Can you please articulate this more specifically?  What do you feel when you are not enjoying social groupings and settings and how is it not discomfort?  It sounds like a pretty uncomfortable situation to me.

 

You've modified the statement.  I didn't make my statement in the negative.  'Less enjoyable, on average' does not equate to 'not enjoyable'.  If I have an office event after work, I generally enjoy myself, but in most cases, I'd have enjoyed myself more by going directly home, or out to a café to read.  

 

I go because I don't deny value in connecting personally with my team, even if that's something on which I don't place a lot of personal emphasis.  I also go because it's perceived negatively when I avoid too many consecutive social events.  Sometimes I go because it's a change of pace, and my conversational skills will rot away entirely if I cut off from people altogether.  

 

For the sake of argument, let's say my statement was about not enjoying social groupings.  This doesn't rule out having a neutral experience.  I can be indifferent to a social grouping without feeling agitated, anxious, perturbed, or otherwise discomforted.

 

I completely agree.  It should be a behavioral description, and that's all it should imply, but like other labels that describe behavior (mental disorders, sexual orientations), people ignorantly assume the origins are innate, genetic, "just the way people are," etc.

 

I don't have an opinion on whether or not it is innate.  My point of contention is only about linking self-esteem and confidence too tightly with introversion and extraversion.  I have no problem believing that, extraverts have higher self-esteem as a statistical average, but brought down to the level of the individual, I don't believe that there is an intrinsic link.

 

If an "introvert" turns into a social butterfly in a comfortable environment, then they are obviously not truly introverted.

 

I see.  Thank you for clarifying.  I'm not sure I align with you exactly here, but it seems reasonable enough for the most part.

 

Since I don't believe extroverts are stimulated by the physical movement of their mouths, there must be other aspects of socializing they find reinforcing.  Let's say, for example, they find being accepted by the group or being understood stimulating.  This is general reinforcement that anyone should find reinforcing.

 

That only makes sense from the perspective you've offered, in which introversion is not also a position of preference.  I'm not arguing from that perspective, so it's not reasonable to interpret my statement that way.

Absolutely does not apply to me and I think characterizing introversion by low self esteem and confidence is not understanding what introversion really is. Having abnormally low self esteem and/or confidence is a mental disorder not introversion.

I am a very introverted person. I was always very shy and quiet all through school. I still am very shy and quiet. When I got married and moved in with my husband, his mother always asked me 'what made me turn from christianity and god?'. Its so annoying! o_O

I notice a lot of people are agreeing that we introverted / Atheists think more deeply which is why we are more likely to question religion.

 

If you consider that being introverted comes from the environment one is raised in and is not hereditary, I have to question which comes first, being an introvert or having a bad experience with religion?

 

For myself, I was raised in a religiously oppressive household.  The proverbial 'ruler across the knuckles' is probably what made me both both an introvert, and an Atheist.

 

I know there are a lot of Atheists who never experienced religion.  I wonder if these are the less-introverted Atheists and the more introverted Atheists are the ones with oppressive religious experiences.

 

Does that hold up?

I think it's more a sign that atheists which frequent a certain website probably don't know too much about pop-psychology and are eagerly looking for quasi-intellectual self-labels. ;)

They are to a certain extent useful as a very rough guide to individual's personality, but I doubt we have too many IO psychologists here to administer an MBTI test...In addition it might be a good idea to have a clear separation between psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression and psychological terminology such as introversion and extroversion, instead of pigeonholing oneself into a certain self-understanding. 

If we are to delve into pop-psyc, it would be more interesting to see where the members here consider their locus of control to be. :)

 

Well, this isn't necessarily the most diverse population sample.  Introverted behaviour may just be more common in internet forum board participants, or perhaps there is some other relevant selection factor at play.

I moved around a TON when I was younger, and went to 16 different elementary schools by seventh grade. Because of this, and also because I am "vertically challenged" (as an adult I am a towering 5'5"), I have always been extremely extroverted, or outgoing, or gregarious... take your pick. Besides being a part of my base personality, I believe that I honed my social skills so that I would quickly fit in when I was introduced into a new group of people. Now I actually love meeting new people, engaging in conversations, etc. My wife, OTOH, is the complete opposite; she is pretty introverted and withdrawn until she gets to know someone, and then she opens up and is actually as gregarious as I am (with the people she knows).

 

Now, whether there is any relationship - causal or otherwise - between introversion/extroversion and atheism is probably dubious at best. Where this would come into play is if you are an "out of the closet" atheist - I would imagine that there is a disproportionate amount of extrovert atheists who are out of the closet; and likewise I would venture to say that many "in the closet" atheists are introverts.

 

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

   This is a meaningless question.  There is (or should be) no such thing as an introversion/extroversion scale.  One ought only to be judged on the basis of behavior within a specific context; and that behavior may vary radically from one interaction to the next.  

   My teachers always told my mother I was an introvert, largely because I was very quiet and unassertive around classmates, especially girls.  On the other hand, in my own neighborhood I was the unquestioned leader.  I chose the games we played; I made the rules; all the other kids followed my lead, even though I was the smallest among them.  Why the drastic difference?  I hated school.  I felt inferior and inadequate at school, which, although it was right across the street from my house, might as well have been on a different planet.  The irony is that I became a teacher for 36 years.  I have always been uncomfortable at parties and can recall having attended only 4 (including my own at age 7) in my entire life, and I hated them all.  I currently live in a tiny cabin in the mountains (not unlike the unabomber's) where I am comfortable having no contact with other people for weeks at a time.

   On the other hand, when I do interact with other people informally I am quite outgoing, garrulous, and friendly.  I genuinely like and get along with a wide variety of people.  And if you put me in front of an audience (the larger the better), I really shine.  Give me a topic on which I am passionate, like science or religion, and I can entertain an audience with the best of evangelists.  

   I recently asked my longtime dentist (a lady with whom I am hopelessly infatuated) if she and the others in her office thought I was an introvert or an extrovert.  They unanimously agreed that I am an extrovert.  They base this on the fact that I am always talkative, charming, informative, and entertaining around them.  But I am equally eager to get home where I can be by myself and not have to deal with people at all. The thing that made me happiest about retirement was no longer being forced to be around all those students, teachers, parents, et al.   

   Anyway, my point is that you really can't (or shouldn't) pigeonhole anyone based on some arbitrary  degree of introversion.  One can only be judged as to behavior in specific environments and situations.

   If you'll pardon a plug, I wrote a book called "97th Street" (still available on Amazon, I think) that is essentially a  humorous, autobiographical look at my life from age 7 to 15, growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the 40's and 50's.  It pretty much centers around this dichotomy of personality. 

 

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