Quiet by:Susan Cain 1/3

Quiet by Susan Cain is an extremely interesting and thought provoking novel in stark contrast to the books I had previously been reading. It is narrated by Susan Cain as she tries to find out all of the information she possibly can about introverts and extroverts, like causes, benefits and what each word really means. The whole book or at least the first third is so full of evidence that it is sometimes hard to form your own opinion because of how strongly her arguments are put together. However what I have enjoyed most so far is the self reflecting that the novel asks me to do. For instance Susan created a quiz to determine if you are an introvert or an extrovert and although it doesn’t really give you a specific answer it does make you think about the how you fall on the scale between introversion and extroversion. Another thing Susan talked about during the very beginning of the novel was the bias that society, particularly American society has against introversion. She talked about how ten or twenty years ago the ideal candidate for a college was not someone who skipped three grades in math and english but instead someone how got B’s and was very social outside of school. Adding to this she talked about the effects of working together as groups, a trend rising in the modern workplace with wall less offices, Cain stated that despite popular belief group work actually reduces our ability to create new ideas and be productive. She ment this in the sense of a meeting saying that if twenty people got together in a room and brainstormed ideas they would be less productive than if the same people had all worked alone.Cain noted however that it is important to have a mix between the two for the most and best work to be done. So far I am really enjoying this book it is the change I needed from the senseless action ones. One thing I have noted is the use of the word gregarious, not a word typically used in our society but frequently used in the book, it makes me chuckle everytime I read it. So far so good!



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4 responses to “Quiet by:Susan Cain 1/3

  1. nathanielfoster32

    Kyle, I totally agree with you. Quiet has brought up many new insights for me that I had never considered before. It is surprising how much being an extrovert and introvert comes to play in our lives.
    Before this book I had never thought of myself as an introvert. After taking the test, I realized that I can often be outgoing but I always enjoy recharging and sitting in my own thought. It came to be that I am an “ambivert,” somewhere in between. I know that reading this book will be beneficial for me to understand my strengths, but will also beneficial to people who are completely extroverts so that they can understand the other third of the population. You talked about how twenty years ago someone who got B’s but was social and would go to an Ivy League, school compared to nowadays where you need to have a 4.5 GPA. It was fascinating to learn about the culture shifts before our time. Cain told us that before the 1920s, people were celebrated for intelligence and morals. This was called the “Culture of Character.” Soon there was a shift and people were then respected for sociability and looks— the “Culture of Personality.” This dramatically harmed introverts because they were no longer respected. Instead, they were told to be more social. If someone was shy they were given medicine “For the anxiety that comes with not fitting in.”
    I also found it interesting about workplace productivity. Teachers and businesses often cherish group work in cooperation but it turns out that it is not always the best solution. I agree because I often accomplish more and have more creative ideas by myself. I think that this is true for me because I sway into the introvert side, but for extroverts it may be more beneficial to have group collaboration. As you said, Kyle, it is important to work to everyone’s strengths and to cherish solitude. I sincerely hope that teachers can learn to understand introversion and create projects in school to help those students. I am loving this book and cannot wait to read more!

  2. nathanielfoster32

    Blog Post 2/3

    The second third of Quiet has continued to bring new insights. One of Susan Cain’s largest ideas is that of sensitivity compared to personality. She displayed her ideas by showing the findings of a group of psychologists. The first series of psychological tests were done by a man named Jerome Kagan. He gathered up a group of around one hundred children at 4 months old and planned on using them until they were eighteen for personality tests. His theory was that people who are highly sensitive to their surroundings at a young age will turn into introverts and those that have low-sensitivity will be extroverts. As he predicted, around 80% of the babies that would cry or flail their arms when hearing a ballon pop would turn into introverts. It was stunning because it means that one can predict someone’s disposition with high accuracy from a young age. This brought up an even larger question: “Is personality and introversion hereditary?” Through his tireless research he found that personality is seventy percent heredity and thirty percent can be attributed to one’s environment. I for one found this astonishing because it shows that we have little control over our disposition which can control how we act and what we turn out to be. It basically told me that we have little to no control over our lives.

    A doctor by the last name of Schwartz was shocked by these results and tried to further delve into this idea. He took the children from Kagan’s study (now adults), and did fMRI scans on their brains to determine their reaction to novelty– a determination of sensitivity. Schwartz found that the highly sensitive from Kagan’s study were more likely to have their amygdala light up when seeing new faces than the lower sensitive faces even after twenty years of environment that could have changed them. The amygdala lighting up is a sign of sensitivity because it processes caution and strong emotions inside the brain. Although the people’s genetic disposition had not changed, some of their personalities had been “stretched.” Some of the once timid and shy individuals had created large social networks and became well-rounded in public speaking. But what they found was that even though people had shifted more towards the extrovert side, almost all remained the types that would rather be at home than at a party or the type that process internally rather than externally– signs of introversion. What this tells us is that people can stretch their genetic temperament but it can only stretch so far.

    I was very interested by these findings and I hope that they interest you as well. Thank you for reading!

    Nathaniel Foster

    • kyleth0m

      Quiet is so research packed it is almost hard to slow down and digest the meaning of what Cain is writing, that is probably my only critique for the book however as it is so engaging and interesting to read about all of the different arguments and evidence that Cain is presenting. Nate talked about the hereditary side of being introverted and extroverted wich I to thought was really interesting however I really liked learning about introversion and extroversion when it came to decision making. Cain introduced this section with a terribly story about a couple who lost 70% of their retirement funds a total of 700,000 dollars to the stock market. The name of the person Cain talked about was Alan and due to so information that he heard decided to buy a hundred thousand dollars worth of stocks. However when he sold at a big loss the media told him that it would rise again but it didn’t and they lost even more money. Cain then goes on to break down why Alan would put so much of his money on the line. Cain states through the Janice Dorn’s research that although everyone can get a little carried away and put to much at stake it is the extroverts that will always rush in or seize the moment and the introverts that will take a minute look at their surroundings or the odds and then make a decision. What was even more interesting is that this isn’t just in humans, many animals do this to with a certain percent of the population typically eighty percent rushing in for a big reward while the other twenty percent will look around and be more hesitant.

      Then Cain talked about how this affects the world on a larger scale with the stock market crash of 2008. She says that to many “People with certain personality types got control of capital and institutions and power”. Meaning that to many people who wouldn’t look at the drop before they lept got in charge and they made risky decisions for big rewards that didn’t pay off. This is because when people make risky decisions and it pays off then they “get proven right” while the people who advised for caution “get proven wrong” and are eventually stripped of their power or even their job. So far this novel has been a blast to read although she did stop saying gregarious as much it is very interesting to read about extroversion and introversion and their effects. As Nate said many of these characteristics have genetic origins and it is important to not doubt who you are or try and change to be an extrovert or introvert because both are crucial to society today.

      Kyle Thom

  3. nathanielfoster32

    Blog Post 3/3

    I agree with you Kyle, my one piece of criticism for Susan Cain is that she throws so many facts at us at once. What I appreciate about Malcolm Gladwell books is that he gives you many facts, but then he summarizes it all at the end of the chapter. Cain does not summarize the facts but instead she goes right into her next ideas. It would be helpful if she summarized her ideas better and more clearly.

    I too was intrigued by her connection between the stock market crash of 2008 and personality types. It is a great piece of evidence towards her claim that having single personality types are destructive. As you said, the people leading the stock market at the time were all “gregarious types” who were willing to take high risks. But what I found interesting was that the entire crash could have been avoided had introverts been at the helm as well.

    One other component that you touched on as well was the correlation between “gregariousness” and risk taking. I was amazed, but at the same time not surprised that extroverts tend to take more risks. All of these ideas further prove that we need a balance of personality types and that one is not always better than the other.

    Another idea that stood out to me in the final portion of the book was that some cultures actually have an introvert ideal. Introverts being appreciated and respected is often seen is Asian cultures. It was not only fascinating that Asian cultures value introversion, but that valuing introversion plays a huge role in their successes. For example, Cain went to Cupertino, California where there the majority of students are from Eastern Asia. In this town, most people are introverted and in school people are respected for being intellectual and quiet. Around the United States this is not always the case because cheerfulness and extroversion usually is more highly valued. Cain believes that the introversion of the students is the main factor in that thirty percent of students were National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists and that 15 percent of the students at the school are accepted into elite schools with low acceptance rates. I agree that if our school accepted some introvert ideals we could further improve ourselves.

    To restate myself, I was very pleased to read this book and I would recommend it to everyone. It is a good way to learn about yourself if you are an introvert and how to get along with introverts if you find yourself an extrovert. Thank you for reading!

    Nathaniel Foster

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