Unconscious Bias Towards Introverts & Extroverts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Many people treat and think about different kinds of personality types very differently in the workplace. This lesson discusses unconscious biases toward introverts and extroverts in job situations.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Have you ever thought about the kinds of biases, or preconceived notions and assumptions, you make about others without even realizing it? The biases we form without our own awareness are called unconscious biases, and all of us are vulnerable to them. It is important to uncover your unconscious biases because they can lead to committing microaggressions, subtle yet hurtful acts of discrimination against others.

Often, we think of bias as related to social identity categories like race and socioeconomics, but they can also be related to personality types. For example, bias in the workplace can have differential and discriminatory impacts on you based on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

What Are Introverts and Extroverts?

So what does it really mean to be an introvert or extrovert? An introvert is a person who generally prefers to be alone, likes quiet more than loudness, and does their best thinking independently.

Introverts are sometimes characterized as shy, but the truth is they usually simply like to think things through in a solitary way. Introverts might hesitate to speak out, especially in the context of a large group. If you are an introvert, you might prefer getting work done on your own rather than in a group or with a partner.

An extrovert is a person who prefers to express themselves to others and to work in social situations. Extroverts share their thoughts and feelings easily and thrive in group experiences. They are less likely to enjoy quiet and solitude.

Of course, most people are not extreme versions of either of these prototypes, and some of us are introverts at work but extroverts in our personal lives, and vice versa.

Our personalities can affect how we are perceived by others on the job.

Biases Affecting Introverts

What are some of the ways that bias affects introverts in the workplace? Sometimes, biases are oriented in favor of introverts. Examples of positive biases toward introverts include:

  • People assume that introverts are hard workers and task them with important jobs.
  • Others might assume that introverts are always engaged in deep thinking because they are quieter.
  • Leaders might enjoy bringing introverts onto a team because they are less likely to speak out against what the leader is suggesting.

Some people are also biased against introverts in ways that affect them in the workplace. Some examples of biases against introverts include:

  • People might assume that introverts are stuck up and uninterested in getting to know other people, so they might exclude them from group experiences.
  • Others might assume that introverts tend toward quiet because they do not have anything to say, are not intelligent, or do not understand what is going on.
  • Leaders might show reluctance to get to know introverts, because it can take more time and effort to know them fully than to get to know extroverts.

Biases Affecting Extroverts

Introverts are not the only ones who can be impacted by bias in the workplace, however. It is also possible for extroverts to experience bias in both positive and negative ways.

Some of the positive biases toward extroverts are:

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