Drawing Credit: Tana Ososki

Two sides, one story: Is introversion genetic or environmental?

What makes you an introvert—your genes or your upbringing?

December 10, 2019

As our generation grows older, people are learning that being different and having different personality types a part of being human. Growing up as an introvert could be very confusing for a child many believe that they are “wrong.” Introverts show many distinguishable signs: they often dissociate from uncomfortable situations and even withdraw from loved ones due to exhaustion. Although many introverts have different experiences, they tend to have these habits. With outgoing social extroverts representing leadership roles, many introverts question themselves: “Why can’t you be social like everyone else?” 

Viewpoints like that are incorrect and backwards, but it does strike up a significant question regarding human development: Are people raised to be introverts, or are people born that way? In other words, what makes you an introvert—your genes or your upbringing?

Introversion is environmental

Introverts can be formed by the environment around them, if that is either from trauma or viewing the way that their parents act and following their tendencies. 

When a child grows up with the idea that their opinions are not worth sharing then that will translate to when they are older, making them more silent. 

The events that happen around a child have high impacts in their future life. Even something as small as a loud sound as a baby can cause post-traumatic stress. It may cause someone to find the need to be on their own, in a place where they are in peace and quiet, or in an environment with noise that the person can control. Yes, emotional trauma can cause a person to become a lot more introverted. Along with something as small as a loud noise more traumatic events can clearly change the way that someone acts. For example, if a child is exposed to a very aggressive person, they can grow up feeling like they need to constantly defend themselves. When a child grows up with the idea that their opinions are not worth sharing then that will translate to when they are older, making them more silent. 

Another social impact that affects someone’s need to be introverted is following the patterns of their parents. As children, we learn our basic skills and beliefs sets with the help of our parents. Our language, our food, opinions, etc. If a child grows up with mainly introverted parents and sees the pattern of them getting their energy by being alone, and taking time for themselves, they start to need that themselves. 

Being introverted develops over time and is greatly influenced by the environment around them. 

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Introversion is genetic

Many people believe that being an extrovert versus an introvert is due to their environment, but it is most likely due to genetic traits. An example of this is due to the genetic correlation of genes to stimulation alertness. Introverts have more of this “alertness” chemical than extroverts do, meaning that they tend to dislike being in busy places and around many people. Extroverts, on the other hand, don’t have as much of this chemical and tend to enjoy being around other people; they could seek out environments that cause a sense of pressure without the risk of discomfort. The excess chemical within introverts causes a sense of pressure within them making them dislike being in more pressure inducing situations such as speaking to a group or being in a crowd. 

The genetic correlation of genes to stimulation alertness is an example of this.

Being an introvert means a lot of things. Most introverts dislike being around others and they have trouble speaking in social situations. While extroverts enjoy speaking to others and constantly want to be in social situations. But it’s important to note that this arousal chemical and just being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean one is unhappy. There are many unhappy extroverts and very happy introverts. Though introverts and extroverts are the way they are because of their personal preferences and where they grew up, a lot of their state can be attributed to their genetic traits and how much of a certain chemical they have within them. 

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