Recently I read a book titled The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. The book was recommended to me by a good friend after we were talking one day about my curiosity on the subject. The book is well written and very insightful. It is written in a way to encourage introverts to be comfortable with who they are and to understand the variety of benefits they receive from being introverted. However, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am certainly not introverted. So why would I spend my time reading such a book? The answer is simple, I like to learn and I am fascinated by how people work and think. Not to mention, the more I learn about others the better I can communicate with them.
I have already said the book was well written and that is no understatement. It answered so many questions I had regarding differences between the two personalities. I will not go into a full-scale, word-for-word translation of the book but I was particularly intrigued with the biological differences it illustrated. I was curious if there was a specific difference in brain functions and, as it turns out, there is. The neurotransmitters the two create are different and the path stimulus takes through the brain is different. This realization was just one of many I gained from the book. But that is only the beginning.
As my extroverted brain was reading the book I was almost instantly applying the idea of different brain pathways to other things I have experienced. This is apparently normal according to the book as extroverts process information much quicker than introverts. However, as I was thinking about the difference in thought speed another idea popped into my head. What about time perception?
It has been said many times over that a “watched pot never boils.” This is a simple concept that illustrates the perception of time. But the concept of time perception is something internal to each of us and may not be the same for every individual. We already know it changes depending on how busy we are because we use phrases like “time flies when you’re having fun” or say time “drags” during times of boredom.
My thought is what if we could identify a specific difference in time perception between the two personalities? What if, as a society, we knew the two perceived elapsed time differently? The implications of this knowledge could really change things. As people in the individualistic society of America we look at people around us and naturally assume they are more like us than different. We assume that if we like to text frequently then everyone around us must also. We also assume that our level of dedication to different things should be the same level everyone around us should bring also. But what if we knew better than to expect certain things from the opposite personality because it is not in their nature. Something like core brain functioning cannot be changed regardless of how badly the individual wants it.
Imagine how this information could help us perform better as a society. In the work place, meetings could be restructured with topics and points sent out early to give introverts the time they need to fully digest and synthesize their thoughts before being asked their opinion on important matters. Or possibly introverts could be encouraged to participate via remote access to avoid the extra stimulus. In the home, parents would better understand why their children may not be reacting to directions as quickly as they wish. Or adults could give their spouses space when they need it without feeling ignored or unimportant. This is certainly not an attempt to single them out as different and therefor outcasts but to help us all better understand each other better. Imagine the implications.