Psychology Today has an intriguing article on the topic of introversion. Even in our extrovert-oriented society, national samples suggest that introverts make up about half of the U.S. population –using Carl Jung’s definition of introversion, that is. However, the article discusses the many faces of introversion……and upon reading one aspect in particular, I could not help but think of the childfree.  I’ve talked to many childfree who describe themselves as sensitive to high levels of stimulation in their external environment.  According to the research, this can be a sign that they’re introverts.  Research tell us that there is a difference between how introverts and extroverts respond to external stimulation.  Extroverts like lots of external stimulation, introverts don’t.  They prefer more quiet environments.

As psychologist Laurie Helgoe writes, “Solitude, quite literally, allows introverts to hear themselves think. In a classic series of studies, researchers mapped brain electrical activity in introverts and extraverts. The introverts all had higher levels of electrical activity—indicating greater cortical arousal—whether in a resting state or engaged in challenging cognitive tasks.

The researchers proposed that given their higher level of brain activity and reactivity, introverts limit input from the environment in order to maintain an optimal level of arousal. Extraverts, on the other hand, seek out external stimulation to get their brain juices flowing.”

Introverts think better when their is not a lot of noise around them.  Studies also show that they learn best in quiet conditions, and not so for extraverts. Overall, introverts just do better when there is not too much external stimulation around them.

This idea made me think of how many childfree describe how they watch households of parents and kids and see how loud and “crazy” it can get. They know that that would just drive them bananas.  Also, many childfree may not prefer lives of solitude, but describe themselves as people who are sensitive to noise (and the many interpretations of what noise means), and prefer to have a quieter environment around them.

Other signals of introversion include saying yes to these questions:

Do you like to dive deeply into topics  (as opposed to knowing a little about a lot of things)?

Do you find socializing depletes your energy (as opposed to giving you energy)?

Do you prefer to think before you share your ideas (as opposed to being ok with thinking as you speak)?

Would you rather communicate your ideas via email (as opposed to say in-person brainstorming with a group of people)?

Do you/would you get tired if your job required meeting after meeting?

These are just a few. Check out Helgoe’s article for more.  Considering the aspects of introversion, as a childfree person do you consider yourself an introvert?  What aspect of introversion resonates most with you? Or are you less of an introvert? Why?

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