Why do we behave the way we behave

As I promised last time, today I will be writing about neurobiological differences between introverts and extroverts.

Hopefully, you remember that building a team could be difficult since from the very first beginning we tend to exclude people who do not behave like we think they have to behave and act. They do not fit into the benchmark of the extroverted human beings or maybe they are too extreme extroverted. We do not want them in our teams, because we created the prejudices that they may are lazy, stupid, counterproductive and would slow down the overall team process, but this does not have to be the case!

But what is it that makes us different?

Guranjan Virkargues that it is our childhood, our education, and our experience we made and the environment in that we live that form us into the person we are. Indeed these things play an important role in forming a personality. Eventually he concludes that it would never be easy to explain what personality is. But what if there is more behind personality and certain character traits?

I am convinced that complex neurobiological aspects play a crucial role when it comes to personality. And if we were aware of it and tried to understand it, we certainly would be more tolerant and understandable to each other. Trying to prove this thesis I will stick to introversion.

 YuJing very briefly explains that the brain of introverts functions a little bit differently concerning information flow, neurotransmitter and overall brain activity. Below you can see the obvious evidence, which was revealed by a study. I think this image makes the difference very clear.

The Big Picture

From these findings one suggest the typical behavior and feelings (or simply character traits) by introverts.

This is very interesting isn’t it? And there are more studies that reveal differences in people’s behavior, like men and women – all though a current topic when it comes to a women’s quota in management. In this small digression I found the blog post the male/female brain where one concludes: “Once again the good news is that each brain can benefit from the other if we try!“

But that should not mean that our behavior should be seen as determined, since anyhow we are humans. The post transform yourself from introvert to extrovert implies that introverts could step by step try to adjust themselves to the extroverted world without loosing their true identity.

However, people (particularly managers and leaders) should be aware of the different character traits of humans without disapproving them but rather try to put oneself into the position of the other or at least be more tolerant. Unfortunately, introverts are better in understanding extroverts than the other way around as RE Slater mentions.

I also recommend reading: Top 5 Things Every Extrovert Should Know About Introverts.

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9 Comments

  1. Julia!
    such a nice post!!I really enjoyed reading through it as it was short but had so much content!
    A huge advantage of your topic is that everyone can identify themselves as being intro- or extroverted. Thats why it catches the readers attention which is totally cool.
    I have not really thought about this topic so far I have to admit. But still I think that it is a crucial factor of why we talk with some people the same languages and with other not. You provided the reader with essential idea and information to understand the content.
    Another neat thing I realised is that you combine all your blogposts. For instance, if you read the current post and feel like you want to know more about teambuilding or introverts in general you can simply click on the other ones you posted!
    Moreover you referred to a really important task of a manager and eventually thats what we all want to end up so that is helpful as well.
    One thing I would criticise is that you kind of put the brain pictures just out there without any deep explanation which might have been helpful even though its not much to be said. Also a summary of the typical behaviour and feelings by introverts might have been appropriate.
    All in all, nice work!!:-)

    Reply
    • juliajogs

       /  2012/01/28

      Hey Alina,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate your criticism. I think I am really into that topic that I did not think about a deep explanation, since I thought my blog post would be too long then. Furthermore, I provided you with the images of the “brains” to show the differences between introverts (longer path of information flow) and extroverts (shorter path of information flow), which I thought would be obvious. But I am sorry when this was not the case! I also did not want to write it all down and therefore put the other image as an explanation of the typical behavior and feelings of introverts below the “brain” pictures. It is also a very good and brief comparison between introverts and extroverts.

      In addition, you could have a look on the blog posts I have linked in my post. There you can get more impressions how introverts feel/behave and you could also get more information and explanations concerning this issue.

      Reply
  2. aww i see!well, i reckon it was my fault then, not looking at the images properly. thanks!!:-)

    Reply
  3. Lucas

     /  2012/02/02

    Reading your post and having a brief look at the images you referenced to I have to admit I am not convinced by either theory yet, which actually makes me somehow want to read more about this topic sometime. Dealing with all kinds of different “personalities” is unavoidable in a modern world and every team (as you said) benefits from every single character trait is contains. I shall also admit that it’s often hard to appraise people I guess especially introverts because humans are often blinded by their first impression.

    The reason why I am not convinced by either theory is that I do believe that specific character traits are not affected by events occurring in life. On the other hand I am not sure about the longer and shorter path and its effects. I see that its scientifically proven but considering me and other I get the impression that character traits or “personalities” consist of a mixture of intro- and extroversion. I mean looking at us I don’t see that you have any trouble getting motivated (regarding uni efforts). I do though. Considering your passion for jogging (let’s not regard it as recharging batteries) I might appear more lazy than you.
    Maybe I have some “advantages” in chitchat (I was almost going to say social skills instead but scientists proved it’s a false impression) and quick responses whereas you amaze people with your broad knowledge. These are only prejudices since I don’t know you well enough but I know myself. This lead me to the impression of the mixture.
    This was no reproach at all. I only offered some thoughts and I am sure you will deal with it wisely. I hope I soon get the chance to read more about this topic myself.
    You achieved making me actually curious somehow. Thanks

    Reply
    • juliajogs

       /  2012/02/07

      Lucas, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me and I am glad that I somehow caught your interest for further reading about this topic.

      I know that this all can seem not convincing and it may be always a matter what you believe, since I believe in science and that everything is (almost) explainable. For me the longer vs. shorter path approach sounds really convincing and plausible. I believe in a mixture of introversion and extroversion, too. I am sorry that I lead you and some others to the conclusion that there would be just one possibility, either being an introvert or an extrovert.
      I do believe that everyone has the tendency of both, but one has a greater tendency for introversion and the other has not.
      To show the complexity of the problem I used the extreme of both, illustrating what some people feel. For example, I do not think that I am not an extreme introvert, but have and feel clearly the tendency towards it. But I also can think of some people (actually just two) who show a real great tendency towards introversion, but maybe just in some occasions and in others they behave like extroverts. And these two people are very intelligent and amazing personalities, but are (almost ALWAYS) overseen and have had to face difficulties in society (at school, work etc.).

      I think what I just wanted, when writing this blog post, was to make people aware of existence of different personalities, since most of us do not think about such topics and unfortunately take extroversion for granted.

      Reply
  4. Hey Julia,
    interesting post and a nice presentation of a theory in a short striking way.
    I am personally not convinced by this theory. It is a theory like that the reason why people are gay is because of their genetics and the same theory exists also for why people are criminal or not.
    I think the most important factor is education. And it is shown everyday that you can “brainwash” somebody in a good or bad way. You can turn a pacifist into a terrorist and a murderer into a pacifist.
    How is it done? Probably not by changing their brain structure or something like that, it is done with influencing people. So turning somebody from an introvert person into an extrovert person and vice versa is possible. The why how it is done may be controversial but it is possible.

    some short notes :
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/jun/16/highereducation.uk3

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41896386/ns/health-mental_health/t/brain-scans-reveal-criminal-mind/#.TzE-RvmjikM

    Reply
    • juliajogs

       /  2012/02/09

      Hey Lasse,
      I appreciate your comment. Nevertheless, I do not think that it is that easy to form somebody into an extrovert (when he is a real introvert) like most people believes. Of course education and the environment in that somebody lives is very important when it comes to forming someone’s personality. I am also not quite sure if you really get the idea of what introversion really means. Do not get me wrong. I do not want to offend you, since I think most people cannot imagine being and feeling like introverts do.
      I do not agree with you that education is “the most important” factor. What if, there is an introvert grown up in a family where everyone is “normal” and shows more tendencies for extroversion? His parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles never taught him to behave like an introvert, and so he was taught in school. He is a self-confident and intelligent human being, but others see him as reserved, not talkative, and maybe grimly; although none of his family members are. And it should not occur to you that he is anti-social or shy because, he is not. He is a very social one; he loves to be around people, his family and friends. But if the group that is coming together grows, he gets calmer and calmer even it is his own family. That’s not because he feels uncomfortable but he needs a lot of energy to process the huge amount of information that overflows his brain. He just listens and maybe picks someone to whom he is talking.

      I know it seems complicated but if you are really interested you could read a lot about it. For example the following article discusses the difference between shyness and introversion

      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200910/introversion-vs-shyness-the-discussion-continues

      Reply
  5. Dear Julia
    Thank you for writing about such an interesting topic. Like most of us, I have not thought about this topic either until having read your article. I consider the knowledge about introverts and extroverts as highly important, above all for a human resources manager. As HR is a field I would like to focus on in my future career, your article has given me the incentive to learn more about this topic.
    I liked the structure of your article, containing a proper introduction, main part and conclusion. The length of your blog entry was perfect, neither too short, nor too long. It is great that you have provided many useful links so that people like me who are interested and want to explore about your topic can easily do it by just one click.
    Maybe the next time you should emphasize that there is no “either or” but, as you have said, in turn everyone of us contains both “personalities”. Just like Lucas, I found myself belonging to both “categories” when reading through the list of extroverts’ and introverts’ characteristics. In my view, not only our childhood, education, experience we made and the environment in that we live are determining for our character but some traits are rather running in the blood. At the same time, the environment according to the situation (meaning the people) is also decisive for your different behavior. For example, a person can be very extroverted when he/she is among his/her friends, but at the workplace the same person turns into someone who is very quiet and shy and does not talk much. It is often the case that sometimes you meet people where “chemistry is right” and you can talk to them in a very open and natural manner. At the same time, there are others with whom communication is not that easy. However, as good managers, we should behave in a professional way and should be able to talk to anybody.
    All in all, you have presented a crucial topic I am keen to know more about. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  6. Marius

     /  2012/02/10

    Hi Julia,
    you have chosen a very sensitive topic. Everybody has an opinion about this phenomenon in our society because it is part of everybody’s personality one way or the other.
    Therefore, it is a highly discussed matter so that the knowledge about it is pretty big. It is definitely not easy to keep up with all the professional’s findings that are out there in the web. So, I appreciate your effort.
    I liked that you seem to build your posts on one another since that way, the reader could get a really profound insight into the topic. However, the reference to your last post may have been a little bit too long. Maybe you can keep that in mind next time.
    Also, the part where you actually write about the biological differences is very short so that many questions are left unanswered. I would be very interested in finding out more about that.
    Maybe you can read this:http://www.livescience.com/8500-brains-introverts-reveal-prefer.html
    Other than that, your blog achieved to create an overview of the topic very well!

    Reply

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