Dear Commons Community,
A couple of days ago, Susan Cain, the author of the forthcoming book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, had an article in the New York Times on what she calls, the New Groupthink. She questions the popular opinion among corporations, schools and I am sure many contributors to the CUNY Academic Commons, that holds that creativity and achievement come from collaborations and working in teams. She laments that solitude is “out of fashion”.
She cites research that suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption and “the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.“
One explanation for these findings is that introverts are comfortable working alone — and solitude is a catalyst to their innovation. The influential psychologist Hans Eysenck observed, introversion fosters creativity by “concentrating the mind on the tasks in hand, and preventing the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work.” In other words, a person sitting quietly under a tree in the backyard, while everyone else is clinking glasses on the patio, is more likely to have an apple land on his head. (Newton was one of the world’s great introverts: William Wordsworth described him as “A mind for ever/ Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”)
Something to think about. Maybe we should form a Commons Group to discuss this further.