PSYC 332 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Susan Cain, Walter Mischel, Quiet Life

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10 Feb 2016
Department
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Quiet by Susan Cain
Psyc 332
Chapter 9: When Should You Act More Extroverted Than You Really Are?
Part Four: How to Love, How to Work
Professor Brian Little is a former Harvard University psychology professor who won the 3M
Teaching Fellowship
o He is a very entertaining and enthusiastic lecturer and his lectures are often over-booked
But at the same time, he enjoys living a quiet life in a secluded area
o He prefers one-on-one conversations, reading, writing, and keeping to himself
Professor Little describes himself as an introvert who makes himself appear as an extrovert when
he is lecturing to his students
He goes by the theory of situationism. Situationism goes by the fact that our generalizations about
people are misleading - there is no core self, only the various selves in different situations
Psychologist Walter Mischel was one of the supporters of situationism and he was proven right at
first
o Eventually, psychologists decided that although personality may change from situation to
situation, people still have core personality traits
o Mischel believes that personality traits occur in patterns
An anecdote is told in which Professor Brian Little did a lecture at the Royal Military College Saint-
Jean - his speech was such a success that they invited him to come back every year
o However, the college also invited him to come for lunch with them
o Prof. Little knew that, as an introvert, this lunch would exhaust him before the lecture he
has to make so he made excuses to spend his time alone during lunch - he even went as far
as hiding in a stall in the men's washroom
Professor Little created the Free Trait Theory to describe how he acts. He believes that fixed traits
and free traits can coexist
According to the theory, we are born with certain personality traits, but we can act out of
character from those traits for specific "core personal projects"
o i.e. introverts can act like extroverts to do something that they consider important
o This theory is especially applicable to introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal
o Professor Little loves his students deeply so attending to them is his core personal project
o As a result, his students find him incredibly engaging and caring and he has written
hundreds of letters of recommendation a year
Susan Cain then goes on to describe her friend Alex who was an introvert who has mastered the
art of faking extroversion all his life
o He realized that he was too nice and that people would take advantage of him for it
o He studied social dynamics and changed his own persona for each situation in order to get
people to like him
An experiment by research psychologist Richard Lippa analyzed how convincing introverts could
be when pretending to be extroverts
o He got a group of introverts to come to his lab and asked them to act like extroverts when
pretending to teach a math class
o He compared them to actual extroverts who were told to simply teach the math class
naturally and found that some introverts were very good at being pseudo-extroverts
But there is a limit to how much we can pretend to be something we're not - a phenomenon
called behavioural leakage occurs if we spend too much time pretending
Introverts who were good at acting like extroverts scored high for "self-monitoring"
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