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.
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. :)
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.
Im an introvert unfortunately in some cases where i would like to be more ?socially? and interact with other people more often then i do now which is rarely and only with close friends.
Atheist too, in case you were wondering.
Good question. I have always naturally leaned toward being introverted but being from a emotionally abusive home didn't help things. It made me withdraw to an unhealthy level, but also gave me years of observation and introspection that helped me notice all of the inconsistencies in both my family and my religion. I still have trouble speaking in groups every once in a while because I've been so used to not being listen to or heard so it feels like "why bother." It's rare though.
As far as I have noticed, christianity (the religion I grew up with) manipulates people in two majors ways:
Fear and Pride(or flattery)- I believe introverts are more susceptible to fear (hell, god won't approve etc.) and extroverts are more susceptible to flattery/pride (being special/rewards). At least that is what I have noticed in people around me.
So maybe we just become disillusioned by different things in religion?
But most atheists being introverts? Not necessarily, I think we just ask different questions. At least for me, I tend to question the smaller details rather than the bigger picture (most of the time).
(Just reposting this because it seems some have missed it. Thx to SaintKitten)
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
Apparently, I'm ENTP. Generally speaking, I can identify with most of the traits attributed to ENTP but I have only slightly more regard for the whole Jungian Myers-Briggs thing than I have for the zodiacal traits attributed to me as a capricorn, who, by the way, should have come into money last Friday and is well pissed off that it didn't happen, along with roughly one twelfth of the population of the earth, or at the very least, the minuscule percentage of that twelfth who read the horoscope printed in the Sunday Independent.
Great article, and kudos to those that got this thread moving again. Worth another look.