小林个人图书馆 2011-09-26

Patricia and Marty Weber were in their walk-in closet one evening, getting dressed for a party, chitchatting about their day, when Ms. Weber made a casual request: 'Honey, I really don't want to be there all night. Can we leave after an hour or so?'



Her husband's response? He took off his tie, threw it on the ground and shouted, 'Just forget the whole thing! We won't go at all!'



Here's an observation: The most complicated marriages may be those between Innies and Outies -- those who like to stay in and those who like to go out. Ask the Webers. He is an extravert. He loves to talk, gather groups of people around him and attend endless brunches, happy hours and networking events. His wife, an introvert, enjoys parties in short doses but prefers to be home reading or spending time with her dog.



Many people believe that introverts, by definition, are shy and extraverts are outgoing. This is incorrect. Introverts and extraverts differ in how they process information. Introverts get their energy internally. Extraverts -- spelled that way in psychology circles -- gain energy from being with other people, often the more the merrier.



There are shy extraverts and outgoing introverts. Most of us have a little of both in us, but lean one way or the other.



Introverts often prefer to spend time alone or in small groups of people, and they tend to carefully gather their thoughts before they speak. Extraverts love to talk and typically 'think out loud,' processing information by talking.



You don't need a degree in psychology to see how this could cause serious problems in a relationship. Introverts and extraverts approach the world in fundamentally different ways. Introverts think extraverts talk too fast, too loud and too much. Extraverts often believe introverts are awkward, withholding or cold.



Facebook, Twitter and other sites that help us stay connected 24/7 are heightening the differences. In today's social-media driven world, it's getting easier for introverts to speak on their own terms, yet it's also getting harder to turn the extraverts off.



The population is split pretty much evenly between introverts and extraverts, according to psychologist Laurie Helgoe, assistant clinical professor at the West Virginia School of Medicine and author of 'Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.' In a 1998 study conducted by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (the folks who run the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test), 51% of some 3,000 subjects who were randomly sampled and tested were introverts. In a smaller study in 2001, 57% were introverts. Introverts were pretty evenly split between males and females, too.

心理学家劳瑞•赫尔戈(Laurie Helgoe)认为,内向人群和外向人群的数量是均等的。赫尔戈是西佛吉尼亚大学医学院(West Virginia School of Medicine)的助理临床教授,著有《内向的能量:为何内心世界就是你潜藏的力量》(Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength)一书。1998年,心理类型理论应用中心(Center for Applications of Psychological Type,就是用“迈尔斯-布里格斯性格类型指标”(Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)做人格测试的那家机构)的一项研究指出,在大约3000名随机抽取的测试对象当中,有51%为内向型人格。而在2001年进行的一次较小规模的测试中,内向人群的占比达到了57%。此外,在内向人群内部,男女比例也趋于对等。


The Webers wrestled with their different introversion-extraversion styles. Earlier in their marriage, Ms. Weber, a 62-year-old business coach from Williamsburg, Va., would often become irritated that her husband went out almost every night of the week, sometimes failing to make it home for dinner. (He was an early cell phone user, and she would call on his big, clunky model to berate him.)



Mr. Weber often invited other couples to join them on their weekly 'date night.' His boss once told him his wife needed to socialize more with other executives' wives if he was going to continue to climb the corporate ladder. 'This has been the biggest conflict in our relationship,' says Mr. Weber, 61, an employee-benefits consultant and broker.



The night of the argument, Ms. Weber felt her husband had misunderstood. 'I wasn't saying I didn't want to go to the event,' she says. 'I was just trying to prepare him that I didn't want to stay all night.' They went to the party but on the way there she said, 'Don't be alarmed if I disappear to the bathroom for 20 minutes. I will need to recharge.'



In brain-imaging studies, brains of introverts show more activity in response to external stimuli. This could explain why introverts feel the need to regulate the amount of stimulation coming in. In contrast, extravert brains show more activity in areas related to pleasure-seeking. They find social interactions fun and are driven to create them.



When someone speaks to an introvert, her brain responds with a high level of activity. 'It is as if several lights start flashing on a control panel,' says Dr. Helgoe. The introvert needs to turn inward. If the other person keeps talking, the introvert can become distracted from her mental process and feel overwhelmed.



When introverts and extraverts converse, 'what looks like communication can actually be a problem,' says Dr. Helgoe. The introvert is quiet and appears to be listening; the extravert takes this as a cue to keep talking. 'The introvert may shut out the extravert, perhaps while silently nodding, or stop trying to contribute,' she says. The extravert needs to learn to slow down, but the introvert needs to learn to speak up.



Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist whose work was the inspiration for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, believed we are drawn to people different from us so that we can learn from them. But Dr. Helgoe says this theory has been largely debunked. Recent research shows marital satisfaction is related to personality similarity. 'Opposites might initially attract,' she says, 'but they can start to repel, if not identified and worked with, over time.'

瑞士心理学家卡尔•荣格(Carl Jung)的著作启发了“迈尔斯-布里格斯性格类型指标”的创生。荣格认为,我们会被与自己不同的人所吸引,这样就可以从他们身上学到新东西。但赫尔戈博士说,这个理论已经遭到了很多人的反对。近期的研究表明,婚姻满意程度和(夫妻二人的)性格相似度有关。她说,“相反的性格特征最初可能具有吸引力,但是时间一长,如果没有注意到个中问题并努力纠正,双方可能就会开始相互排斥、反感。”


Tuesday is the Webers' 41st wedding anniversary. It took two decades, they say, but they finally learned to cope with their vastly different styles. Sometimes, they will drive to social events in different cars, so Ms. Weber can leave early if she wants. Mr. Weber goes to a happy hour after work one night a week without his wife.



They also spend every Saturday apart. He meets pals early at Starbucks, stops in at another coffee shop mid-morning to say hi to more friends and gathers a crowd at a local pub for lunch. She stays home and reads, calls her parents, catches up on email and walks the dog.



'Both of you have to mellow out and find what works for you,' say Ms. Weber.


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