I continue to be curious about whether the childfree are more likely to be introverted. I posted on this topic awhile back with some interesting research on introverts, and more recently read Susan Cain’s excellent book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking looking for possible answers…
While the childfree and introversion is not discussed directly, the plot thickens when it comes to the definition of introversion. One famous definition is based on psychologist Carl Jung’s, personality “typologies” or “temperaments.” There are sites like personalitycafe.com that have forums discussing Jungian “types,” and threads pondering whether the childfree are not just introverted, but particular combinations of the four-part personality “type.”
However, Cain tells us that today there are “as many definitions of introvert and extrovert as there are personality psychologists…some think that Jung’s ideas are outdated; others swear that he is the only one who got it right.”
In her book, she gives readers a short, informal quiz (not a validated personality test) “formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers” to determine where they are on the introversion/extroversion spectrum.
Think about these items –whether they are true of false as they apply to you, “more often than not:”
- “I prefer 1-on1 conversations to group activities.
- I often prefer to express myself in writing.
- I enjoy solitude.
- I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status.
- I dislike small talk, but enjoy talking in-depth about topics that matter to me.
- People tell me I’m a good listener.
- I’m not a big risk-taker.
- I enjoy work that allows me to ‘dive in’ with few interruptions.
- I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
- People describe me as ‘soft-spoken’ or ‘mellow.’
- I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.
- I dislike conflict.
- I do my best work on my own.
- I tend to think before I speak.
- I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
- I often let calls go through to voice mail.
- If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
- I don’t enjoy multi-tasking.
- I can concentrate easily.
- In classroom settings, I prefer lectures to seminars.”
(* from Quiet, pp. 13-14)
If you answered more statements as true, the more introverted you probably are. If you answered about the same number of true as false, you “may be an ambivert” – as Cain says, “yes, there really is such a word”!
Cain says that even if you answer every question as an introvert or extrovert, it does not mean your behavior “is predictable across circumstances.” Jung would say that we all have “preferences” but we have the capacity to be able to be both introvert and extrovert, and as we get older, tend to move to the center of the continuum as part of the self-actualization process.
Cain has a bit different take, and describes how and why there are different “kinds of introverts and extroverts”…For example, “if you’re an artistic American guy whose father wished you’d try out for the football team like your rough-and-tumble brothers, you’ll be a very different of introvert from, say, a Finnish businesswoman whose parents were lighthouse keepers.”
Makes me ponder–are the childfree necessarily likely to be introverts, or are they more apt to be different kinds of introverts and extroverts…or ambiverts?
What do you think?
I know one thing: Would I love to see some formal research on the childfree personality!