Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are introverts born or created?

It wasn't just the return of Flirtyintrovert back to The Sanctuary that got me thinking about introverts in general :-)

No, it was this film:

Beasts of the southern wild.
Delightful film.
Not least because the lead role is played by a nine year old who is also the youngest ever Oscar nominee.
One can certainly see why she has been nominated, when one sees the film.
And her name - Quvenzhané...never heard it before. Is it French? Creole? Cajun? Where does it come from? Unusual and lovely name.
Anyhow, she plays a five year old who lives in a rather backward (technologically-speaking) community in a village nicknamed 'The Bathtub' as it lies in a flood plain.
This community is a bit of a utopia, but only if you think the absence of modern technology is a good thing.
Different races live in harmony. All the kids are mothered by all the women, and fathered by all the men.
The kid in question, Hushpuppy, is the quintessential introvert, I think.
She is brought up by her father as a boy (he calls her 'boss', teaches her to flex her biceps often, dresses her in trousers all the time, such that in a solitary scene where we see her in a dress, one does a double-take to check it is really her, and doesn't want any 'girl stuff' in his house, lol).
Hushpuppy is motherless, and like Louisa Godwin, she makes up a fantasy world involving her absent mother.
She lives (alone) in a separate house from her father (so it's not so much 'Go to your room!' as 'Go to your house!' for this unusual family).
Indeed, she only goes to his house when he rings the bell announcing 'feed up time'!
'Food' is usually a simple affair. A chicken shoved unceremoniously on a fire, or a fish that he caught and she was trained to knock unconscious with her fist.
When her father gets sick from a mystery disease (alcohol-related liver cirrhosis, methinks) that he wants to hide from her, she is upset (naturally) that she is not allowed in his house at a time she wants to go there.
Burn down her house, so she gets to move in with Dad.
Logical enough :-)
Hushpuppy kind of lives in a fantasy world of her own making for much of her young life. She is introspective about everything, startlingly so for a five year old - including (spoiler alert!) the eventual death of her father. 
But I wonder...are introverted people born or made?
Hushpuppy's environment was certaily conducive to introversion. Not much else to do in The Bathtub other than drink alcohol (yes, she was already her father's drinking buddy) or reflect.
But...would she have been so if she were in a different environment?
There are more extroverts in this world than introverts, according to Myers-Briggs and other personality indicators.
But the numbers of introverts are rising because of smaller family sizes and isolating technology, I heard.
Also, in general, as people get older, they become more introverted, even if they were extroverts to begin with.
Is there such a thing as an introvert, born and bred?
Can one inherit personality?

Do two introverts produce an introverted child necessarily? Do two extroverts produce another extrovert?
Are there studies on this?
If so, could anyone point me in the right direction?
Such is where my latest curiosity quest takes me :-)
In any case, I think this is a pertinent question, given that statistically speaking, most internet surfers are thought to be introverts.
That means, you and me :-)
I hope Quvenzhané Wallis wins the Oscar. She seems unusually articulate and adorable to boot.



PVW said...

Quvenzhané...never heard it before.

Me: More likely to be a made-up name; fairly common among Af-Ams here, to make up some type of name, ie., French-sounding, etc.

Spacetraveller said...


Ah, that would explain why I never heard it before.
Very imaginative, if made up!

dannyfrom504 said...

i was born. not made. i ALWAYS knew i was different. at first i thought i was weird for wanting to be alone.

now i embrace the solitude and peace of living inside my own mind, and trusting my gut.

Spacetraveller said...

Yes, Danny, I think you are right. I have been asking around (both in blogs and in real life) and the concensus seems to be indeed that introversion is congenital.

If I may share something else:

I think I now understand better the difference between introversion, shyness and 'quietness'.

Introversion: I don't WANT to be in your comapny.

Shyness: I am UNABLE to be in your company.

Quietness: I would like to be in your company, but only if you shut up and allow me to do the same.


And now I realise that there is no such thing as a 'shy' guy in the dating world. Either he is uninterested, introverted or quiet. Not shy.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Flo said...

I would recommend you to read 'Quiet' by Susan Cain it would answer your question of whether we are born introverted/extroverted. According to research mentioned in the book we are born introverted/extroverted but our environment influences to what degree.

Spacetraveller said...

Welcome to The Sanctuary, Flo!

Thanks for your recommendation. I shall indeed go find this book.

The answer definitely seems unanimous - introverts are born.

Perhaps this book will go more into the nature/nurture debate. This topic fascinates me.


torvov said...

i didnt know i was born an introvert when i was little but as i grew up and came to know the world a little i became introverted and it was then i knew i was born that way