Introverts, does it seem like you’re drowning in a sea of extroverts?
In reality — according to a new study, published recently in Psychological Science — we over-perceive the number of extroverts out there.
This is due to two psychological theories called the “friendship paradox” and the “extroversion bias,” which researchers Daniel Feiler and Adam Kleinbaum of Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College have now documented.
The friendship paradox suggests that, statistically speaking, we’re more likely to be friends with people who already have a lot of friends — probably because these people are outgoing and likeable.
Further clouding our perception is the extroversion bias, which suggests that because extroverts tend to have more friends, they’re disproportionately represented in our social networks.
It means that everyone’s social circle is more extroverted than the population really is as a whole. We get the false impression that there are more extroverts in the world — and fewer introverts — than there actually are.
In reality, introverts make up about 30-50 percent of the population, according to some studies.
Feiler and Kleinbaum reached these conclusions by surveying 284 MBA students about their social networks and assessing their level of extroversion using the Big Five personality test.
How this misperception harms introverts
If we think that most people are more extroverted than us — and that they have more friends — we might start thinking that there’s something wrong with us.
“When extraverts are over-represented in networks, the average person may begin to feel like they don’t belong,” Feiler tells Mic. “They may feel like a hermit, by comparison, and that could have harmful effects on their sense of self-worth.”
Especially when we’re younger, we might feel like we’re not keeping up with other people socially — and we may fear that we’re missing out on the fun, Feiler says.
Why you’re probably more normal than you think
We tend to be friends with people who have a similar level of extroversion as us, the researchers found. This means introverts are often friends with other introverts, while extroverts are drawn to other extroverts.
Extroverts are more affected by the friendship paradox than introverts, so they have a skewed view of how outgoing and social people really are.
On the other hand, the most introverted among us — just 1 percent of the population — probably have social circles that are the most representative of the population in terms of extroversion, the researchers found.
“There’s a human tendency to wonder, ‘Am I normal?'” Feiler says. “And our research suggests that you’re probably more normal than you think.”
Image credit: Deviant Art (foto-graf-hi)