Saturday, July 7, 2012

Big Picture: the Ramblings of an Introvert on Environment, Law & Human Behaviors

I am in the midst of reading a book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts. It's a good book. While it could easily go to the "Nah, nah, we're better!" attitude, it instead looks at the science, and takes a balanced approach, detailing how each group, introverts and extroverts, provides a benefit to themselves and to society.

That said, I've reached an interesting part of the book. Essentially, it says that the environment of Wall Street has created a disproportionate favoring of extroverts, who are more likely to engage in aggressive, and not-so-well thought out, risk taking. And that this may be a huge factor in the recession.

I can't disagree that this could be a factor. Introverts tend to be quieter, less aggressive, more likely to hesitate and reassess. According to one of the studies referenced in the book, extroverts are less likely to pause and learn from their mistakes. They are also more likely to be motivated by short-term rewards.

And this brings me to my current ponderings.

Most people are extroverts. Extroverts are more likely to be heard because of their interaction style. Extroverts have a greater tendency to not learn from their mistakes and to dismiss a greater long-term reward in favor of a lesser short-term reward. Extroverts are frequently less reflective on themselves and their environments.

Hmm, environment. Now there's an issue that needs to be resolved. It requires a delay of gratification (short-term rewards) in favor of a greater amorphous goal. It requires a longer look that the more impulsive, "now"-based beings of extroversion are less suited towards. It requires a world of patience, and slow, steady, thoughtful actions, which are the strong suit of introverts. It requires the guidance of introverted leaders.

But even if we have those introverted leaders, how do we get all the extroverts to rein in their natural impulses?

I'm going to go off on a tangent here, but don't worry, it'll come back.

Laws are another interesting dilemma. I support smaller government - one of the few things I have in common with the average Republican. I don't need a law to tell me that killing someone else is a naughty thing to do.

But then, I'm an introvert. I don't usually behave impulsively, though I will if I am not given the time to reflect. I don't usually act from a place of emotions, neither positive nor negative. I am an evaluator of situations, an observer of human nature and behavior. I look for others' motivations to understand them better, and I reflect on my own behaviors daily.

However, I understand how others can get caught up in emotions and the "high" of the situation (Quiet refers to an extroverts ability to be more sensitive to the "buzz" of a situation). I understand the twofold power of the law in otherwise obvious situations. The fact that it is illegal and punishable to kill someone means that those with a greater impulsive tendency have that extra dissuasion in their minds. They are less likely to satisfy that immediate gratification of hurting those that hurt or frightened or angered them. The law also sets a clear punishment system for those who manage to ignore all that and still break the rules.

Given all of this, it may be that the only way to overcome the larger populace's ignorance of the topic, or their dismissal of the long-term reward in favor of short-term satisfaction, is to create a legal standing for it; a law.

I agree. There are so many sides to this issue that it isn't "that easy" or a "black & white" situation. It definitely isn't something to jump into impulsively. But it is something to think about.