I've been thinking about personality types recently, most specifically the Myers/Briggs scale/Kiersey temperaments (where I'm a solid INTP every time). I've been mulling over why I'm introverted - and what this means. In discussion with green_amber
it became obvious that I'm _not_ an introvert when amongst geeks, but I am when amongst pretty much everyone else. This seems odd, as introversion/extraversion is supposed to be a constant.
Much thinking later, I came up with the following thinking about why people are introverted in the first place, and how they may come to be that way. So when I'm talking about social situations I'm covering the whole range of them from hanging out with a close friend to being at a party with a load of people you don't know, to being in work with people who have a very disparate range of interests:
1) There is no absolute right/wrong, just what people like/don't like.
2) Therefore you can't logically expect people to either want the same things or have the same interests as you.
3) Therefore, if you want them to do the same things as you in social situations, or talk about the same things, then sometimes you'll need to provide an impetus for them to do so, offer your own compromises, talk about the things they're interested in, go along to the things they have an interest in.
4) This constant social negotiation involves empathising with others and seeing things from their point of view, to see what they want and how you can manage to achieve both that and what you personally want. This requires effort, less for some people, more for others (quite a lot for me, usually requiring a fair amount of thought).
5) The harder work people find it, the more like themselves their chosen group will have to be in order to minimise effort. They will tend to congregate with people who have similar hobbies, beliefs and approaches to life in order to not stress themselves out.
6) Some people don't find the social juggling hard hard - indeed they may not even see it as an effort - they get a buzz from being around people and don't really notice the subconscious juggling process. We call these people extraverts.
7) Some people find the process very wearing - they tend to focus inwards instead, avoiding the stress that is social situations. If people find it hard to deal with people more than slightly different from themselves then we call them introverts.
Further thinking made me think that this can be simplified even further:
If you have interests that are unusual then you will tend to be around people who you have little in common with, and thus have problems dealing with 'people in general' rather than just the occasional person. So it's not that geeks are naturally introverts, but that they are socialised into acting in a more introverted manner because the energy necessary to cope with the majority of people is higher for them. If talking to people requires lots of compromise and effort then you'll associate socialising with that effort and be less inclined to do so.
Which leads me to wonder - are some people interested in unusual things, thus causing them to have problems dealing with others, causing introversion; or are some people naturally introverted, causing them to avoid being with other people and thus focussing on other things instead?