Research in 1989 discovered that our brains were wired differently as babies depending on whether we were introverts or extravert.
In 1989, Harvard University psychologists ran a series of landmark experiments on hundreds of four-month-old babies. These babies’ senses were bombarded by being played sound only recordings of a range of loud noises, for example balloons popping, and being stimulated by the smell of cotton buds soaked in alcohol being waved under their noses.
What took the psychologists by surprise was that some of the babies waved their arms and legs around and cried as they expected, but unexpectedly others hardly had any response to the stimulation at all.
Out of those babies the psychologists identified one fifth of them, who were the highest responders, and called these babies ‘high-reactives’, whilst the lowest one fifth of the responders who were most placid were called ‘low-reactives’.
The babies were then followed all the way into their teenage years, and during this time they were put through tests on a whole variety of different personality measures every few years.
What was perhaps the most surprising results that the psychologists discovered was that it was the ‘high-reactive’ children who were the most likely to turn into quiet, serious-minded, introverted teenagers and not the ‘low-reactives’. Whereas it was the ‘low-reactives’ group of babies who would go on to become the bold, sociable and outgoing extraverts.
This led these researchers to conclude that introverts need far less external stimulation to provoke a reaction than extraverts who need far more.
And you only have to reflect on yourself at work to know whether you’re an introvert or an extravert.
For example, how do you react to working in a noisy environment? Do you pursue or avoid communicating with your coworkers?
And what’s important is to recognise at work that there are these two groups of people who respond differently to their environment.
And which group you’re in… Because whichever that is, there are other people who aren’t. And they are different from you.