Monday, February 06, 2006

Those immoral extroverts are taking over

Last night on BBC3 there was a programme about comedian and author Jenny Eclair, who is an archetypal extrovert, always showing off wanting to be the centre of attention. She said that if she couldn't perform before an audience any more she'd go mad.

"In My Childhood, Jenny explores the key events and circumstances that have moulded her into one of the UK’s funniest females.

Jenny Eclair was the first female comedian to win the prestigious Perrier award at the Edinburgh Festival, but her life hasn't always been a bundle of laughs...

... Returning to Berlin, where the family lived for three years, she recalls her first happy memories at primary school in Germany. But St Anne’s, Blackpool, reminds her of college days, when she developed anorexia."

Her older sister and younger brother recall that she was always seeking attention and it's little surprise that she became one of the few female stand-up comedians. Her extrovert behaviour was amusing to her friends (though when, at 9, she read a friend's diary, the friend had written: "She's not as well liked as she thinks she is"), but it became a big problem for her family:

"Sarah [her older sister] was a straight-A student, whereas Jenny was the class clown, always performing for the other students. Years of sibling rivalry were to follow."

Extroverts are dangerous

I also happened to be reading "The Motivated Mind" by Raj Persaud (recommended, unlike Freudian fabrications, this is based on massive reading of recent research in psychology) where he notes that extroverts tend to be favoured even at work and this is reinforced by the dominance of extroverts in the media:

"... it is so obvious that companies are now looking for extroverts that psychologists who write career advice guides routinely include advice on how to cheat in personality tests that are increasingly employed to weed out 'undesirable' personalities, like introverts. These psychologists strongly suggest that applicants should 'recognize that a display of too much introversion, a desire for reflection, or sensitivity is to be avoided'.

The current preoccupation with selecting extroverts in the workplace could be a mistake because it runs counter to one of the most well-established facts about introverts - they are what psychologists term more 'task-oriented' than extroverts. This basically means that they get on with the job at hand rather than being constantly distracted by the need to 'connect' - i.e., chat - with fellow employees.

... But most worrying of all, we may now have entered a vicious upward spiral of extroversion because we live in a new media age where extrovert media like television dominate. Not many introverts are going to be given their own TV series to host - so extroversion as a value now dominates our society.

...Yet... introverts are more aware when their behaviour drops below the standards they set for themselves. Extroverts tend not to be so bothered when this happens because they don't introspect as much - they are too much concerned with the impression they are creating in others. Extroverts are much more prone to immoral behaviour, breaking rules and laws. This could explain the decline in standards in public and private life we now see everywhere."

pp. 360-2

This was true in Jenny Eclair's case: "As a child, Jenny was very close to her older, sensible sister Sarah, but their relationship took a dramatic turn when Jenny became a teenager, and discovered underage drinking. 'I suppose I had a reckless streak in me,' she confesses." She sought the attention of boys and seems to have had a lot of sex at a young age.

Now people like her go on Big Brother and aspire to become celebrities, whether or not they have any talent, and so many young people now want to become famous but without the trouble of having to learn or achieve anything to really justify it, cf. the decline in those going into the sciences.

As Persaud comments:

"It could well be that our politicians, public figures and a whole generation could in fact profoundly benefit from a dash more introspection and a little less sociability." p.362


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home