Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things Asexuals Like: Introversion

Again, this isn't really something we "like" per se, but something that seems to predominate among us. According to a poll on AVEN, 93% of 261 respondents claimed to be introverted. I've looked for statistics about what percentage of the total population is introverted versus extroverted, and conclusive evidence is hard to find. However, I've found no evidence that introverts could possibly be more than 50% of the general population. From the results on AVEN, one might think that introverts are just more likely to be on AVEN. As far as people who live on AVEN 24/7, that's probably true. But these days, most everyone is online, regardless of personality type. What I'd be more likely to believe is that introverts are more likely to question their sexuality, since we tend to spend more time alone with our thoughts. Introverts are also often told they're wrong-- that they need to be more outgoing, friendly, or social. There's a big divide between America's ideal personality and the introvert, a fact that could lead to increased self-questioning. Perhaps extroverts are more likely to go along with a crowd, whether it be to a party or to heterosexuality.

Maybe the people who claim "asexuals are smarter" are actually noticing a trait of introversion: The majority of "gifted"people (IQ over 130) are introverted. So maybe those people are actually noticing a real phenomenon, although they phrase it in an unnecessarily elitist way.

I'm an introvert, although apparently not a very strong one, since I tend to get bored when I'm by myself. I also don't like being alone with my thoughts, since I come up with disturbing things like the fact that I'm asexual-- har, har. I think it's important to note that being introverted doesn't necessarily mean you're shy or anti-social. My favorite way to understand the concept is that extroverts get energy from being around lots of people, while this tends to drain introverts. For me, the level to which I'm drained by social activity depends on how well I know and like someone. I can chat with a good friend for hours, but I have low tolerance for "cocktail party"-style banter with strangers. I need time alone to "recharge" from those situations.

One problem I had with writing this post is that I have no idea what the extrovert experience of life is like. The overwhelming majority of my family and friends have always been introverts, which seems unusual since by some counts, we're a minority of 25%. However, this enabled me to better avoid what seems to be a strong anti-introvert bias in American culture. Especially in the job market, the more introverted you are, the more you will get shafted (with some flexibility based on your field, but we don't all get to be computer programmers, you know). According to the well-known article Caring For Your Introvert, extroverts have a hard time understanding introverts. However, I feel like I know the experience of being sexual a lot better than the experience of being extroverted, since I have many sexual friends but few extroverted ones. It's also worth noting that values related to introversion and extroversion vary based on culture and gender. Let me tell you, it's hard to be the strong, silent type-- and female. But apparently, introverts are big in Japan.


Daddy Squeeze Me! said...

Im a very big extrovert! My Myers-briggs test results peg me at ENTJ personality type! You can WIKI that and get me all in a nutshell!

I have lots of introverted friends because my extroversion is so extreme. I love people and I dont like to be alone. I have lots of thoughts and Ideas and I love to share them and help people.

I dont know what its like to be an introvert and I can not fathom what it is like being able to hold your tongue or remain so controlled in silence and demeanor.I am a ball of fire!


Anonymous said...

As part of the teaching assistanceship I'm doing this semester, my students took the MBTI. I had a go at it, too. Later, the counselor looked at my results, looked at me, and said, "Wow. You're really introverted!" She wasn't exaggerating. The result? 100% 'I' - a new personal best.

Of course, as she made clear, being introverted is about where we find our energy - in ourselves or others. And yes, according to her figures, only about 25% of the American population is introverted. Those figures do vary by culture, and there's a book out on what those differences are, but she couldn't remember the title. Sadly, American society likes to train our 'I's to be 'E's, with most K-12 teachers being strong extroverts who think the rest of us are shy or late bloomers. Heard those arguments anywhere before? The good news is that, increasingly people are coming to realize that you're born into a personality type.

The latest book I've read on the subject of introverts was Anneli Rufus' Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto. It's well-articulated, and I'll let it speak for itself. The author also keeps a blog on Psychology Today's website.

Daft said...

I went to a meeting for asexuals and well, they were all introvert. So the results don’t surprise me.

I'm an extrovert asexual and like going out to bars and too se bands etc.

jmerry said...

There's definitely a strong effect here. For comparison, a MBTI poll at a math forum I frequent was at 65-85% introvert, depending on how the "other" category split. I'm also one of only two people on that thread to report 100% I, compared to eight on the AVEN version in fewer full-number responses. The math contest community is a pretty introverted place, but it's got nothing on AVEN.

I think it's safe to extrapolate this from AVEN to out asexuals, but not to all asexuals.

KC the MoUsY spell-checker said...

"Introverts are also often told they're wrong-- that they need to be more outgoing, friendly, or social."

So true. When I was little, I was an introvert to the point where my teachers always tried to make my classmates play with me even if it was clear that I didn't want to play with them (and most of them didn't want to play with me anyway).

I'm now an extrovert though.

Ily said...

Looks like we've got a good mix of introverts and extroverts in the comments here. I think that introverts and extroverts can enjoy the same activities, but for different durations. I'm willing to go to something involving huge crowds, for example, but it will tire me out very quickly.

Nameless said...

According to the marvellous Laurie Helgoe, introverts make up just over 50% of the population (I think it was somewhere in the 50s, I forget where exactly). She has a great book called Introvert Power - check it out and listen to the first chapter at http://www.wakingdesire.com/introvertpower.htm

Cosmia said...

I'm introverted, except sometimes I'm not. I wish I knew a more articulate way to say that!