Your Turn

Poll: How introverted are you? The results.

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Susan Cain is an introvert—but did an incredible job at TED2012. We want to know: Take our poll to share your insights. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Susan Cain is an introvert—but she stepped in front of hundreds to present her idea at TED2012. We wanted to know: How introverted are you? Here is what the TED community had to say. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In her TED Talk “The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain illuminates the many subtle ways our culture favors extroversion and gives some great ideas for how introverts can better shine at school, at work and in everyday life. This talk certainly struck a nerve — it’s been viewed more than 8 million times since it was posted in 2012. So we got curious: how introverted is the TED community?

Earlier this week, we asked you to take an 8-question poll about where you fall on the introversion/extroversion spectrum. What you had to say was truly fascinating. Here’s a recap:

More than 1,174 of you answered our first question, which asked how closely you identified with Cain’s definition of introverts as those who “feel at their most alive and most capable when they’re in quieter, low-key environments.” 47.2% of you said that the description fit you perfectly, while 40.8% said that it described you somewhat. Only a slim 12% of you didn’t see yourselves in this description at all.

Collaboration can make amazing things happen, yes — but 49.6% of 948 poll respondents are likely to come up with your best ideas when working on your own. An additional 19.5% said that your ideal situation is working with a single, trusted partner, and 25.6% prefer small groups where there’s careful consideration given to hearing all voices, even the quiet ones. Only 5.3% of our respondents feel like they are at their best in a large brainstorming setting.

Office designers will also want to take note: about 57.6% of our survey respondents prefer an office with an actual door that closes. Barring that, you prefer a less formal office environment—one with couches, chairs, nooks and crannies. When it comes to open office plans, which are so common these days, 15.2% of you adore them—if there is some kind of divider giving them their own personal space. Only 10.5% prefer a truly open space.

When the TED community is in need a mental recharge, the most popular fixes are heading outside (28.4%) or reading a book (also 27.6%). Interestingly, 15% of you say you recharge best by digging into a creative project—which would certainly explain why you are so productive.

One question that intrigues us in TED HQ: How does the Internet figure into the introversion equation? Does the ability to share opinions in a typed form give a boost to introverts who might not speak up in person? But you guys were neutral on this one. 41.2% of 847 respondents said you thought you were equally introverted/extroverted IRL as onscreen. Meanwhile, 29.4% said that you’re more likely to express opinions and thoughts online, while an opposing 29.4% were actually less likely to speak up online.

One thing for sure, you have certainly felt pressure to be more extroverted. 36.6% of 850 respondents said that they felt nudged toward extroversion often, while 43.3% said that they felt nudged on occasion. As for who did this nudging, 28.2% said they’d felt pressured to be louder and more social from a peer, and 16.4% said that the pressure had come from a boss. Parents, teachers and romantic partners were less common answers.

Some of you wrote in with really interesting comments on this question. Many of you mentioned the conundrum of parties and networking events — that while they’re fun and helpful, they can also lead to what feels like a feedback loop of pressure to be more outgoing. “I prefer to talk to people one to one. I’ve been thought of as rude for not mingling more,” wrote one of you, echoing a common sentiment.

Another interesting write-in trend: many of you mentioned feeling more introverted while traveling. “I only feel introverted when I’m in environments that are new. Example: moving to Cambodia, I was very introverted while I observed the culture and interactions with people,” wrote one of you. “During that time peers would encourage me to be more engaging.”

One thing that’s clear from this poll — while you tend toward introversion, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Many of you reported feeling major shifts within yourself, depending on the situation or mood. “I go from one extreme to the other. It’s a yin-yang thing with me,” wrote one respondent. “When I work on my own for a long time, I wonder what’s wrong. Oh yeah — I need people. Then I spend a lot of time with people and wonder what’s wrong — Oh yeah, I need work time. I really go back and forth.”

Feel free to peruse the results of this poll below. And let us know any thoughts you have on this subject in the comments.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.