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While American culture and business tend to be dominated by extroverts, business consultant Cain explores and champions the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. She defines the term broadly, including "solitude-seeking" and "contemplative," but also "sensitive," "humble," and "risk-averse." Such individuals, she claims (though with insufficient evidence), are "disproportionately represented among the ranks of the spectacularly creative." Yet the American school and workplace make it difficult for those who draw strength from solitary musing by over-emphasizing teamwork and what she calls "the new Groupthink." Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. For example, she notes, introverts can negotiate as well as, or better than, alpha males and females because they can take a firm stand "without inflaming [their] counterpart's ego." Cain provides tips to parents and teachers of children who are introverted or seem socially awkward and isolated. She suggests, for instance, exposing them gradually to new experiences that are otherwise overstimulating. Cain consistently holds the reader's interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
It's hard to believe, in this world of social media and reality TV, that one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts. Yet being an introvert has become a social stigma. The rise of what the author dubs the Extrovert Ideal (in which the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight) began with Dale Carnegie and his wildly popular self-help books. Simultaneously, we saw the rise of the movie star and of personality-driven ads and the appearance of the inferiority complex, developed by psychologist Alfred Adler. Today, pitchmen like Tony Robbins sell the idea of extroversion as the key to greatness. But and this is key to the author's thesis personal space and privacy are absolutely vital to creativity and invention, as is freedom from peer pressure. Cain also explores the fundamental differences in psychology and physiology between extroverts and introverts, showing how being an introvert or an extrovert is really a biological imperative. No slick self-help book, this is an intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist
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The introvert/extrovert dichotomy is easily stereotyped in psychological literature: extroverts are buoyant and loud, introverts are shy and nerdy. Here, former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant Cain gives a more nuanced portrait of introversion. Introverts are by nature more pensive, quiet, and solitary, but they can also act extroverted for the pursuit of their passions. Cain describes and explicates the introvert personality by citing much research (at times so much that readers may be confused about what she is explaining) and going undercover, at one point immersing herself at a Harvard Business School student center and, in a very amusing chapter, at a Tony Robbins seminar, among other case studies. Cain's conclusion is that the introversion or extroversion personality trait is not as simple as an on/off switch but a much more complex expression of a personality. VERDICT This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types. Recommended to all readers.-Maryse Breton, Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec, Montreal (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.