The Neuroscience Behind Introversion

Sarah Albo | Your Conflict Coach
5 min readMar 30, 2021

and what it means for you in conflict

Photo by fizkes.

Introversion and extroversion aren’t just personality traits — there’s a fundamental difference in our physiology that leads to these different responses to social interaction. They also influence how we show up in and deal with conflict.

Recently, I did a webinar with CharityVillage on how to handle conflict and approach it constructively and a lot of the questions that came up at the end were related to tips for introverts.

Being an extravert myself (although I have many times when I prefer solitude or my own thoughts), I didn’t realize how much the presentation was focused on how someone preferring social interactions would approach conflict. I’m seeing how this shows up a lot in conflict resolution — where there is an expectation of a conversation or a social interaction to facilitate the resolution. So I had some digging to do to learn about how this impacted introverts.

I was really surprised at some of the information I found relating to the physiology of introverts so I thought I would adjust a few of these tips I planned on providing to better incorporate their unique perspective and strengths. While there are a number of suggestions in terms of how to best handle conflict or approach difficult conversations that could apply to any personality trait, in practice, these are going to be implemented differently based on these differences in physiology.

Needless to say, I learned a lot.

About introverts

The first thing I wanted to know was how prevalent are introverts out there?

The first official random sample by the Myers-Briggs organization showed introverts made up 50.7% and extroverts 49.3% of the United States general population (1972–2002). Marti Olsen Laney in her book The Introvert Advantage estimates that 25% of the world is introverted.

I’m not going to get into the definitions of introversion or extraversion based on personality testing because that’s a whole other conversation as to its relevance and validity, but I do want to mention that being an introvert isn’t about being shy, not liking people, or experiencing social anxiety — common misconceptions about introverts.

Sarah Albo | Your Conflict Coach

I write about dealing with conflict in our personal and professional lives.