Susan Cain’s Intro/Extrovert Test is Bullshit

a150d72f0fd79f5aa59d8d53f1213f99Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, has built a very public career around the bullshit “introvert” label. I leave you to consider the logic of that. In the meantime, let’s look at the so-called “introvert” test on her website (link):

  • “I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities: T/F.”

These aren’t opposites, and this is a false choice. A conversation is, by definition, one-on-one. Even if there are three people discussing something, it’s one-on-one-on-one. It’s about individuals contributing to a discussion. “Group activities” could describe football, or tug-of-war, or genocide.

  • “I often prefer to express myself in writing: T/F.”

WTF does this have to do with anything? Writing is a form of communication with strengths and weaknesses in different areas. The same can be said of speaking, smoke signals, and semaphore. What she maybe trying to ask is: “When you decide to initiate conversation, do you prefer in-person/phone or email/text messaging/other? The real question there is: when you have something to say to someone, do you think it’s appropriate to abruptly intrude on their privacy, or do you initiate contact in a respectful way that allows them to choose when their privacy ends?

Phone calls and knocks on the door are one thing in a business, when you have posted business hours, and you’re basically saying, “during these hours, I’m available for communication at any moment.” In real life, phone calls and door knocks are intrusions. They say, “Hey, whatever you’re doing, stop right now and give me your attention.” That’s not a choice of introvert or extrovert labels, that’s a choice of courteous versus rude.

Related post: Phone calls are rude.

  • “I enjoy solitude: T/F.”

Not “Do you enjoy lots of solitude?” or “Are you terrified by solitude in any quantity?” A normal person enjoys solitude for some non-zero quantity which will vary from person to person. Another example of pointless bullshit.

  • “I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers: T/F.”

For fuck sake, Susan. “Care about” in what sense? Do I worry about having too much wealth? Do I obsess about not having enough? And what “peers” are you talking about: work? personal? quilt club? This question is vague enough to be entirely pointless.

  • “People tell me that I’m a good listener: T/F.”

Another pointless question. All this can indicate is whether people (1) believe you are a good listener and (2) are judgmental enough to tell you. Yes, judgmental — even a compliment is a judgment.

Nonjudgmental  =  “When I talk to you, I feel heard”
Judgemental  =  “You’re a good listener”

Listening is comprised of hearing + comprehending. Since hearing = shut mouth + open ears, Susan is correct in thinking that normal people (who she calls “introverts”) have an edge in that department. Comprehending, however, is a voluntary choice a person makes, and even a normal person who’s sick and tired of everyone talking so damn much may be more apt to choose not to listen.

The test continues, but I don’t want to keep fiddling with it.