Why are Introverts more creative than Extroverts? [Enhanced Version]

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7 min readJul 15, 2020

In an era where technology has taken the world in a storm, it’s almost impossible to spend time alone with your thoughts. Scrolling through smartphones or firing up Netflix, can keep you company every second of your life.

We dislike solitude so much that we would rather zap ourselves with electric shocks rather than just sit and think. Sounds unbelievable, right?

But studies suggest that when people were asked to spend six to fifteen minutes in a room in solitude, a significant portion (67% of men and 25% of women) opted to administer themselves to shocks just for the sake of breaking out of their brains.

Another 2012 study of 56 adults found that after spending four days immersed in nature, individuals improved their performance on a creative problem-solving task by 50%.

If you’re an office-goer, then you should probably follow the example of Intel, which experimented and provided office quiet time in 2007. The company set aside around four hours for 300 engineers and managers every Tuesday morning. Employees were not allowed to use any kind of electronic device. The experiment results were highly successful that a major portion of the employees recommended to roll it over across the organisation.

In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World which can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain talks about how our lives are shaped by our personality.

Let’s have a quick knowledge check as appeared in this article by the Scientific American:

Which of the following are signs of introverts?

⦁ Deep Thinkers

⦁ Introspective

⦁ Socially awkward

⦁ Anxious

⦁ Negative Emotions

⦁ Vulnerable

⦁ Always picking solitude over an interaction

Answer — None of the above.

Common Misconceptions regarding Introversion

Introversion is a highly misunderstood concept. Being alone and being lonely are two very different aspects of one’s behaviour. Psychologist Carl Jung described introversion as “inwardly directed psychic energy” but this is not how it is used in modern personality psychology anymore.

Though Carl Jung noted “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a [person] would be in the lunatic asylum.”

Humans are very complex individuals. There are several types of introverts and extroverts. Author Susan Cain claims, “Introversion and extroversion interact with our other personality traits and personal histories, producing wildly different kinds of people.

Like most ways of being, introversion and extraversion aren’t absolute. Yet people tend to form an identity around these two labels. And then people are criticised for being too outgoing in case of extroverts or being too quiet in case of introverts.

Introversion is also often confused with shyness. Introverts don’t necessarily want to be alone. They might just simply prefer a small, intimate gathering with people they know well.

Our personality type doesn’t point towards our geniality, but rather determines and analyses how we react to stimuli. Extroverts crave social stimulation, while introverts are at their best in situations of solitude.

So who’s the better performer? Who’s a better employee? Who makes a more capable leader? Who is innovative?

“A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weak-hearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty -five pages to the dissection of a small boy’s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight … Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channelled away from them.”

— Allen Shawn

It’s been one of the most widely researched topics. Scientists are a recent addition to Poets and Philosophers, who have been thinking about extroverts and introverts forever.

We’re living in an “extrovert ideal”: in a University of North Carolina study, it was found that 96% of managers and executives display extravert characteristics. We live in a society which glorifies the enthusiastic and outgoing nature in a person. Extraversion is considered as a great asset.

“A widely held, but rarely articulated, belief in our society is that the ideal self is bold, alpha, gregarious”

– Susan Cain

But, maybe to be more creative, be an Introvert.

Neither E= mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed by a party animal. These are the words of science journalist Winifred Gallagher. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was found saying that engineers and inventors work like artists, and need to be alone, outside of their companies, where they can invent peacefully without others affecting them.

Though as far as the generation of innovative ideas is considered, introverts and extroverts can be at par. But several facts and figures state that creativity thrives among Introverts.

Introverts are usually people with an active imagination and a busy mind. There is a constant hum of activity in their minds which often needs a creative outlet.

Some of the world’s top inventors are introverts. Bill Gates, Larry Page, Albert Einstein and several others prefer solitude to focus on their crafts.

Of course, there are exceptions. Steve Jobs was a classic innovator and an extravert. He was an amazing salesman and a visionary. But he wasn’t necessarily a creative inventor as a person. It was Steve Wozniak who single-handedly developed the first Apple computer.

Introverts indulge highly in listening and observing. They tend naturally to have higher amounts of inputs than outputs. They absorb others’ actions and words. This continuous absorption of outer activities, make it necessary for introverts to indulge in creative endeavours.

Time spent in creation helps Introverts to balance the scales of input and output. They won’t often put their hand up to share opinions but introverts express themselves creatively through their work.

There is a myriad of ways in which an introvert can perceive information, process it and give creative outputs.

Introverts aren’t necessarily shy. They often just have a preference for their personal space to think and showcase their abilities.

This ability to focus inwards is a strong contributing factor to an Introvert’s creative abilities. An introverts world is vivacious and vibrantly detailed. And creativity requires imagination. Imagination is something introverts have a deep connection with.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

Proverbs 10:19

We as a society are moving unconsciously towards an extroverted world — one where organizations value “people skills” above competence — introverts will have to adjust. But things like creativity and “innovation” will suffer.

Does that mean Extraversion can be equated to non-creativity?

Definitely, not. Creativity can never ever be restrained or limited, especially to a person or personality type.

Differently skilled is how we should look at introverts and extroverts. While introverts can create wonderful ideas and inventions, extraverts can inspire and motivate.

Creative people are both introverted and extroverted but at different times and in their own versatile ways. The companionship of other people is required to brainstorm and develop creative ideas whereas solitude can be necessary in order to let the idea incubate.

Exploring creativity within one’s mind with curiosity is not restricted to just introverts. Discover the message it wishes to give you and where it wants to take you. But do it in your own way.

Remain open and never deny the creativity nurturing inside of you, however small it may be.

Though Introverts can generate new ideas, make plans, and help quietly, Extraverts can implement those plans, think quickly on their feet, and make use of their great energy.

If you wish to increase your productivity and creativity, irrespective of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, try scheduling a little more solitude into your day.

And brush away any fears that alone time makes you a hermit. With people like Hemingway and Wozniak on your side, you’re in good company.

On Ground- Zero

It all comes down to realising who you are, how you function and where do you wish to proceed. Try understanding yourself better each day. You don’t have to fit yourself into the parameters of introversion and extraversion.

You can choose to be different. You can choose to be an extravert who loves to think deeply in solitude. You can choose to be an introvert who has a vivid imagination and likes to connect to people.

Any and all of these combinations are possible.

Let’s stop worrying about who’s more intelligent, creative or innovative. Nothing can be more limiting than a definition. Shed away all your fears. Step out of boundaries. Celebrate your being. The world deserves each and every one of us. And we belong to it.

No matter if you’re an extrovert, introvert, ambivert or someone with a hint of all of those personality traits, you are special in yourself. Never believe anything else.

Updated and Edited with New Content on December 27th, 2023

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