5 Health Perks Of Being An Introvert
Photo by Jeremy Michael Avina/Getty Images
There have been a few setbacks recently for introverts—you know, those people who are energized by solitude rather than social interaction and are always getting criticized by extroverted, more gregarious types. New research found that their immune systems are less capable of handling a wide variety of pathogens than those of extroverts—likely because they don't naturally flock to social activities, with their potpourri of immune-boosting germs. A second new study shows that introverts have higher rates of sexual dysfunction, in part because they're less open to new experiences. Prior research has found introverts to be more prone to depression. Poor, poor introverts.
But before we go framing introversion as a health hazard, on top of all the other weird finger-pointing we do at these quiet folks, let's consider the context.
"When we look at that research, we have to factor in our cultural bias," says psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychology and human services at Davis & Elkins College and author ofIntrovert Power. "A lot of introverts worry that their behavior is abnormal because it may look that way up against the cultural standards in this country, but in other cultures, like in Asia, being quiet and enjoying solitude are not considered weird or problematic." In other words, researchers in other parts of the world may not have even thought to make a distinction like this between social types.
And in fact, introverts' trademark activity—introspection—affords this personality type myriad perks. Let us count the ways:
Lower chances of obesity
In an interesting study, researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab tested to see if the size of a breakfast bowl influenced how much cereal and milk school children served themselves. When using a large bowl, extroverted children (as judged by their teachers) served themselves 33% more than their introverted classmates did, likely because they relied on an environmental cue (the size of the bowl) rather than on an internal one. The researchers speculated that tuning in to internal cues could be what helps introverts avoid casual overeating.
MORE:4 Ways To Outsmart Your Cravings
A leadership advantage
The extrovert who typically gets the most airtime in meetings does not necessarily have the most brilliant ideas or the best leadership skills. In 2012, management researchers at Wharton found that introverted leaders are often able to deliver better results, because instead of promoting the loudest, flashiest initiatives, they're more likely to let talented colleagues run with good ideas. "Introverts are able to tune in to the talent on their staff and draw it out," Helgoe says, "rather than simply deferring to the most vocal members of the group."
Lower risk of dumb accidents
The introvert, who tends to think before speaking or acting, is less prone to the kind of impulsive behavior that could lead to drinking too much, or, say, crossing against the light. "Problems with alcohol and accidents—those happen more to people who are externally oriented," Helgoe says.
Space for creativity
Photo by Jeremy Sergey Nivens/Getty Images
Extroverts are keenly attuned to social norms because they're highly motivated to be sociable, gain attention and win approval from their peers. That can put them at a disadvantage creatively. "Introverts, by not being so heavily influenced by what everyone else is doing, can be more open to novel solutions," Helgoe says. Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist suggest that introverts can be more creative because they're comfortable spending time alone, a critical ingredient for creativity. "There's a lot of evidence that boredom is a precursor to creativity, and introverts are more welcoming of the solitude that engenders boredom," says Helgoe. (Not naturally creative? Here's how to boost your creativity in 5 minutes.)
Powers of deep thought
Brain imaging studies show that when processing stimulation, introverts have more activity in the regions of the brain that process information, make meaning, and problem solve. "An introvert who's quiet in a meeting may be taking everything in, making mental connections, doing deeper processing," Helgoe says. There is evidence that introverts do better in academic settings and are more represented in honor societies—all of which boosts a sense of mastery or belief in one's abilities. And, surprise surprise, studies have linked those self-empowered feelings to better health in the long run.
Video: 5 Surprising Benefits Of Being An Introvert
50 Snow Leopard Tattoo Designs For Men – Animal Ink Ideas
Chinese doctors are using virtual reality to help perform operations
How to be a great CEO
10 Hilariously Awkward Family Halloween Photos
Iceland’s Best Geyser, and 9 More Must-See Places inReykjavik
Wat we allemaal willen weten: hoe erg is het om betrapt te worden op vreemdgaan
Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretches to Treat ITBS
Mom Shows the Honest Reality of 130-Pound Weight Loss In Her Viral Photos
Maybe Dont Dress Your Kid Up As Moana This Halloween
How to Take Care of Your Aging Cat
10 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies
4 Everyday Foods to Battle Cellulite
Mark Zuckerberg is now richer than Warren Buffett
Miss Oregon graduated at the top of her class
More Evidence Supports Intermittent Fasting for MS