Category Archives: Introversion

Introversion Expert Susan Cain at TED 2012

TED: Ideas Worth SpreadingTED 2012 is here! Actually it looks like the final sessions will be wrapping up this evening, but the videos are just starting to be released.  For those who have never heard about TED, it is a “genius conference” where luminaries from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design discuss their groundbreaking achievements and ideas.  The tag-line of TED is “ideas worth spreading” and the 18 minute “TED Talks” are released free to the world.

I’m looking forward to hearing the talks from a number of speakers.  Neuroscientist Steven Pinker was on the slate this year.  Reggie Watts performed some of his unique brand of live music, can’t wait to hear what he came up with.  Also, psychologist Jonathan Haidt spoke about some of the themes in his new book about divisions of morality in politics and religion.  I await all of these talks with bated breath, but today they released a video from one of the speakers that I am most interested in, Susan Cain.  A few months ago Susan wrote a great article in the New York Times that I commented on earlier and she recently published an outstanding book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  Without any further ado, here is Susan Cain at TED:

Groupthink or Solitude?

Author Susan CainIntroversion expert Susan Cain has written a great Op-Ed piece in the New York Times Sunday Review exploring introversion, groupthink, and the benefits of solitude. As a self-professed introvert, I found the piece compelling reading and I highly recommend it.

Here is an interesting excerpt:

People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”

The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.

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