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Study Finds Introversion Not a Choice

What Makes Someone Introverted?

Introversion is not a choice. According to a new study the brains of people with "sensory perception sensitivity" (SPS) process the world differently and pay more attention to detail.

While general uneasiness in social situations might make you identify as a shy person, a person with SPS has more specific behavior characteristics. They take longer to make decisions, need more time to themselves, and become bored with small talk. A sensitive person also observes longer before acting and is easily startled, bothered by crowds, and more affected by caffeine. A kid with the SPS trait needs little punishment, cries easily, and asks unusual questions (don't all kids do that?).

The study concluded that about 20 percent of people have this personality trait that makes them more sensitive to social and emotional stimuli. And it's present in animals too. Do you identify with any of these traits?

Source: Flickr User rohtrs

Join The Conversation
juicebox07 juicebox07 7 years
cassie - Being an introvert is just who you are. Do NOT try to change. It won't work, and you'll be unhappy. I'm sorry to hear about your relationship having troubles, but if he can't accept your personality, I think you need to find someone else who accepts you for who you are.
cassie91 cassie91 7 years
Definately me :( It's caused me a lot of problems with my boyfriend of 2 yrs as well... It makes it seem like I don't care about anything because I don't have much to say at all, and it's made things really messed up. I've been trying to change too, and it's not happening... Damn introvertedness...
juicebox07 juicebox07 7 years
spacekatgal - "I think that sometimes, they unintentionally send signals to others that they are uninterested in them." You are not wrong in thinking that. When I first met my boyfriend, he said I appeared standoffish, but he was determined to get past that. The thing is, I wasn't really, but I somehow appeared that way. Fortunately, it didn't scare him away. Quite the opposite. :P
luna08 luna08 7 years
I definitely identify with a lot of these traits, and have worked hard to get past them enough to be seen as an extrovert and have a highly fulfilling social life. I just build in time to recharge, and honestly, just fake interest in the "small talk" sometimes. The benefits of friendship and a social life outweigh listening to the mundane chatter. :) I think my upbringing, which focused a lot on etiquette and manners, gave me a good foundation of social behavior that I can rely on when I get overwhelmed. For me, if I don't have enough time to recharge I feel oversensitized.
juicebox07 juicebox07 7 years
I think some of you are a little confused about what exactly Introversion is. Girl Jen, Pistil, and BellaSugar seem to have it down. Let me use my own personality as an example. I can be shy, and social events can be awkward for me. That doesn't mean I'm unfriendly or anything of that nature. While I don't tend to start conversations, usually, I am perfectly capable of having one. I just usually wait for someone else to start one with me. I also do like being around people. It's just that I can't be around them too long. After so long, I start getting tired and irritable. I end up feeling exhausted like I just did a major workout. It's really weird. I need a lot of alone time to recuperate. I am also capable of having fun by myself. To those of you who said you don't think you can be friends with introverts, maybe you haven't tried hard enough. Or maybe you just don't want to try. My bf and I have been together over 3 years, and he is an extrovert. His sister (my closest friend) is also an extrovert. Somehow, it works.
fashionplate525 fashionplate525 7 years
This describes me 100%. I definitely don't see this as a syndrome of any sort, just a further explanation of why some people act the way they do. It would be like describing a Type A personality or something, not good or bad, it just is what it is.
lauraxtc lauraxtc 7 years
I am introverted and it bothers me. :(
KadBunny KadBunny 7 years
I think it makes sense. :) I was shy as a child because my parents are your typical strict Asian parents, and we were constantly nagged to behave and be prim and proper at all times. As a result I basically sat still and shut my trap for most of my childhood when in gatherings, so I guess that's where I "learned" my shyness. But the fun times I spent in school with friends really broke me out of my shell, and my rebellious nature just made me "unlearn" it. Now I've found a healthy balance I think :P, but still mostly on the introverted side. Everyone is different though. I hear that certain workshops really help with shyness too.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 7 years
Introverts energize themselves by being alone. Extroverts are energized by being around other people. That's a simple way of remembering. Also, good looking shy people are often mislabeled as aloof or pompous...happens quite often. A great author to check out re: shyness is Philip Zimbardo. :) Interesting post!
bryseana bryseana 7 years
I respectfully disagree with shyness being learned or unlearned. My parents have told me that I was a shy toddler. And it was the same way through out elementary school and beyond. Both of my siblings are outgoing and my parents are very extroverted people. So, I'm not sure where I would have learned it. I don't think it's a disorder or flaw. Some people are just shy by nature.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I grew up as an introvert and yes to the general extrovert who doesn't know us already we are difficult to socialize with but it doesn't mean we don't enjoy socializing. As some one else mentioned it isn't a fear it's simply a different mode of operation. A mode that exists apparently for a reason. Extroverts have their strengths and we have ours and there are the things that bridge us they can help us and we can help them. As an adolescent it was difficult for me to learn to operate in an extroverted environment. I eventually found my stride though. I never used the term friend loosely like most people. I don't have layers of friends. I have a tight group of very strong friendships which I really consider family. It is also true that general gossip is not our cup of tea. If it's something we're passionate about something we can relate to then that's cool but just talking about stuff (gossip) just to talk usually finds us at a loss. I've learned to work around this in social situations though so I'm not just sitting there counting grains of salt on the table at a dinner party. I'm constantly observing and listening even if I'm not talking and paying close attention to detail. During conversations I have the gift of coughing up fascinating facts or experiences that relate to the conversation and shoot it off in a whole other direction and the extroverts will frenzy over it and I'll toss another tidbit in and they'll frenzy some more. Mean while I'm just nodding my head and smiling ;-)> because I was able to be part of the conversation. I have to admit I'm also a cryer but saying we're prone to crying makes it seem like we're depressed all the time. I'll have you know I've shed many a tear of joy. I cry watching commercials. Oh and if there's a baby being born on TV hand the tissue cause here it comes, lol.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I'm an introvert, too. According to my Mom, I've been that way since I was a toddler. I identify with many of those traits, except for being bored with small talk. Even though I am an introvert, I have social skills, and making small talk is part of the art of conversation. As much as I enjoy being alone, there are times I am required to interact with another human being, and that's when I use social skills. Besides, I think small talk is a very "safe" subject to discuss, as it's impersonal and non-revealing. I think small talk is the perfect subject for introverts to discuss. It's really talking about nothing, and an introvert does not share about himself or herself. JMHO.
divinedebris divinedebris 7 years
Yeah, I've been introverted all my life. That's probably why the internet is easy for me, I can take it in small doses but when I need my me time I just turn the computer off. I also hate small talk, I hate groups and parties, yeah I'm pretty introverted with a splashing of socially awkward and just a touch of shyness. I've been told many times I'm very off-putting and rude. At work and at school I've been told that I need to make a better go of talking and socializing so that I'm easier to be around. Eh, when people know me they love me... just takes a while to know me.
bethinabox bethinabox 7 years
Sometimes I think I'm an introvert, and I do fit some of the descriptors up there (bored by small talk, startles easily...), but then I think about it and I guess I don't really fit the description of an introvert, since I do like being around people--I go to parties fairly often with my friends, lots of people and dancing, etc. But I am pretty shy and quiet around people I don't know well, and I have trouble starting or keeping up conversations with strangers, and sometimes even my friends. Plus the small talk thing is really annoying. I hate small talk. :P I'm perfectly comfortable sitting in silence with people, but then they always get all uncomfortable and try desperately to find something to chit-chat about. Ha. I dunno, it's weird. I love my alone time, but I also love being around people. So I'm like half and half? Lol...
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Chloe Bella, I keep agreeing with you this week! There's some overlap in the Venn diagram of shyness and introversion, but not all sensitive introverts are shy. I feel like shyness is a behavior that can be learned or unlearned, whereas introversion is built deeper into one's personality. I am introverted and very sensitive, but shy? Nope. I'm able to talk in front of groups, make conversation flow smoothly, and do other social things without a problem. It takes more energy to go to a party, though, and I need to recharge afterward. For what it's worth, I also loathe small talk.
neonbrite neonbrite 7 years
This is me in a lot of ways, my roommates are always after me to hang out with them more. Really shut down and block out guys. Small talk is def. not me I don't feel the need to talk just for the sake of talking a lot of people perceive this as me being stuck up which is not the case at all.
KadBunny KadBunny 7 years
Me me me :) All applies. Very sensitive and not a huge fan of idle chit chat. And yeah, I'm definitely tired of people branding me boring or stuck up because of my quiet demeanor. So what if I tend to keep to myself? On the contrary I'm actually quite sociable and I love people; you can drop me in a room of complete strangers and I will be okay. I won't have a panic attack or anything. It's just that most of the time I'd prefer to keep the chatter to a minimum, and I'm less likely to initiate a conversation, but we're not all socially inept. :oy:
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Introverted doesn't necessarily mean social anxiety. I'm quite content keeping to myself and I really love my alone time. Sometimes I like being around people, but a lot of times I just have no desire to try and be chatty.
medenginer medenginer 7 years
I identify with these traits and I have a child like this. I have not left my house for weeks before or communicated with people for days. My SO doesn't really comprehend it. I have never been very social at work, school, and I have few friends. I dread tedious, boring, irrelevant conversation, crowds, and clutter. It just gives me anxiety.
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