Andrew (perspectivism) wrote,

Kevin happens to ask, "Can one be both an introvert and an extrovert?", just as I'm (re)reading an excellent Gladwell article with one answer in passing...

analyzed extroversion among
adolescent boys at a summer camp. He found that how talkative a
boy was in one setting--say, lunch--was highly predictive of how
talkative that boy would be in the same setting in the future. A
boy who was curious at lunch on Monday was likely to be curious at
lunch on Tuesday. But his behavior in one setting told you almost
nothing about how he would behave in a different setting: from how
someone behaved at lunch, you couldn't predict how he would
behave during, say, afternoon playtime. In a more recent study, of
conscientiousness among students at Carleton College, the
researchers Walter Mischel, Neil Lutsky, and Philip K. Peake
showed that how neat a student's assignments were or how punctual
he was told you almost nothing about how often he attended class
or how neat his room or his personal appearance was. How we behave
at any one time, evidently, has less to do with some immutable
inner compass than with the particulars of our situation.
I, however, think Gladwell here overstates the case against personality. When an individual is in a new/unfamiliar situation, that individual may have a lot of personal tendencies. E.g., I'm much more likely than the average smart American to throw some focus in any of seven different "meta" directions when I walk into a new restaurant. At least out loud! I'm also more likely to be quiet during a chess game...

I'm sure that most of us even have some stability of personality over time. On the other hand, we humans can and do change in most every imaginable way.

(Sounds like I have about as much precise commitment here as your average politician!)

One of my favorite quotes to mangle toward this topic: Everyone else has changed more than you think. You haven't changed as much as you think.
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