The terms “introvert” and “extrovert” have become household words in the XXI century owing to Eysenck’s theory and the development of a three-factor model. Traditionally, it is believed that introversion and extroversion are defined by biological factors and that environmental factors play little to no role in defining the given characteristics of personality. However, for a number of reasons, the influence of environmental factors, or the lack thereof, on the development of introversion or extraversion is one’s personality must be reconsidered.
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Despite the fact that the biological understanding of extraversion and introversion is crucial for addressing the phenomena in question, the understanding of environmental factors is not to be underestimated, since the latter defines the development of behavioral and particularly communicational patterns; therefore, it is the balance between understanding the environmental and the biological factors that determine the stability of emotional traits and the development of either extraversion or introversion.
On the one hand, understanding of biological factors seems to play the defining role in analyzing the development of extravert or introvert character traits in an individual. Neurobiology has been proven a legitimate theory to approach the phenomenon of personal and social development. For example, according to recent research, the link between such a biological function of the human body as the production of Dopamine and the extraverted behavior has been proven.
More to the point, it should be taken into consideration that the changes in a person’s behavioral patterns, particularly the communicational ones, can be induced with the help of various chemicals, such as cocaine, alcohol, caffeine, etc. Thus, the biochemical nature of extroversion is proven completely. The same can be said about introverted behavior; it has been proven scientifically that introversion can be caused by the chemicals, which affect the brain activity, i.e., orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala regions (Burruss and Kaenzig 1999, para. 3). Therefore, the biological nature of such phenomena as introversion and extraversion can be considered doubtless, and its understanding may rule out the environmental factors.
On the other hand, biological factors defining the development of introversion or extroversion character traits do not defy the fact that environmental factors also have their effect on developing extrovert or introvert characteristics. By responding to particular incentives in the environment, one develops the behavioral patterns, which will predetermine one’s introvert or extrovert behavior. Therefore, environmental factors stand on their own in the development of introversion or extroversion and cannot be ruled out.
In fact, the effects of the environment on extroverts and introverts create a certain loophole, which reinforces the aforementioned qualities to grow to the nth degree. Once a person with a specific set of introvert/extravert character traits appears in the environment that can be considered as favorable for the person in question, these character traits receive positive responses from the outside world, thus, encouraging the person under consideration to manifest these traits in an even more obvious manner. Unless other factors, which can be seen as binding to the evolution of these character traits, are introduced into the environment, introversion or extraversion will grow exponentially.
Environmental impact on the development of extroversion or introversion theoretically may also appear the defining factor in one’s communicational patterns development and personal progress. Hence, it can be assumed that biological factors create the premises for the development of specific communicational patterns. These factors, therefore, inform the further progress of an individual in terms of social interactions, yet do not define them. The environmental factors can be viewed as the elements that shape the already existing premises for developing either introvert or extrovert qualities.
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It could be argued that people tend to use and adjust the elements of the existing environment so that the latter could suit the specifics of their character. For instance, it is common knowledge that introverts will choose the least crowded places and prefer to refrain from conversations unless they are talked to. The same can be said about extroverts; whenever choosing where they will feel most comfortable, they would avoid secluded places and empty streets, preferring crowded ones instead. However, when people only start developing their communication strategies, the environment in which they live and converse affects their further evolution as extroverts or introverts to a considerable extent. According to the researches on the topic, a major alteration in a person’s environment may lead to a temporary change in the system affected.
As soon as the specific stimuli or the lack thereof has no impact on the extravert or introvert, the person attempts to restore the environment, in which their necessity to engage into conversation is satisfied: “Typical ways in which the extravert seeks stimulation include: trying to influence or control his or her environment; confronting others; engaging in competition; attending crowded parties or events “where the action is.” (Benziger n. d., para. 17).
Even though the significance of the influence of environment on shaping one’s communicational patterns and, therefore, the development of extraversion or introversion in an individual is often overlooked, one must admit that environmental factors affect one’s social behavior and communication patterns greatly; Hence, their understanding is crucial to the analysis of extroversion and introversion. It is necessary to keep in mind that the link between environment and neurobiology is very strong; practically, people’s experience in communication is interpreted through biology as one of the key variables. Therefore, excluding the experience of interaction with the environment is unacceptable in the process of identifying the key factors affecting people’s development of extraversion or introversion.
Benziger, K (n. d.), ‘The physiology of type: introversion and extraversion,’ KBA. Web.
Burruss, J D and Kaenzig, L 1999, ‘Introversion: the often forgotten factor impacting the gifted,’ Virginia Association for the Gifted Newsletter, vol. 21, no. 1, para. 1–9. Web.