What Causes Introverted Personality? Genetic or Environment?


Introversion is one of the exciting topics to talk about. We know about introverts, but only a little. So for this post, let’s explore the different causes of an introverted personality.

There are various causes why a person can become introverted. It might include childhood trauma, unpleasant previous experiences, family, and peers of the introvert. Although the reasons are relative to every introvert, one thing is certain. It’s their environment that contributes a lot to why they became introverted.

When we say environment, it means everything surrounding them can impact their personality. It’s normal, and the space where we are is indeed very powerful.

However, it’s not that as simple for introverts. It’s not just their environment. It has something to do with their negative experiences with the said environment.

To dig deeper, let’s talk about each cause.

lady face in colored personality spectrum colors

Why do introverts become introverts?

Introverts have a reputation for being reclusive, antisocial, and generally difficult to get to know. But do introverts want to become introverts in the first place?

The answer is no. 

The problem is that introversion isn’t something you can just fix. It’s more like a personality trait you’re born with. It can be complicated to change your nature after childhood.

When you meet an introvert, you must understand that it’s not like they want to become an introvert.

What you should know is that there are things that lead them to become an introvert.

Childhood trauma

Childhood trauma can be a difficult thing to talk about, but it’s important to understand what it means.

Childhood trauma is any kind of experience that happens in a person’s childhood that causes them significant mental or emotional distress. It can affect children, teens, and adults.

It can be incredibly hard for introverts because they might have trouble discussing their feelings with others. Or even recognizing when something has made them upset. They may also have trouble asking for help when they need it most.

Childhood trauma for an introvert could be any number of things such as the following.

  • Being bullied in school
  • Having a parent die when you were young
  • Being abused by a family member
  • Being the victim of a violent crime

As an introvert, you may have had experiences in your childhood that were painful and confusing. But you didn’t have any way of expressing those things at the time, so you’ve been carrying them with you ever since.

Being young teaches us to look to our peers and adults for cues on how to act and what to think. If no one around us seems to be like us, it can leave us feeling confused and alone. 

This can cause us to feel like there’s something wrong with us or that we’re abnormal.

All these can lead a person to become aloof and sensitive. 

Unpleasant previous experiences

There are some reasons why people become introverted after unpleasant previous experiences.

For example, if you have had a bad experience with a person or due to the fact that you have learned to connect those situations with negative outcomes and are now afraid of them.

This is called negative reinforcement. It’s our way of anticipating things that can give us negative or unpleasant experiences.

Another reason why people become introverted after unpleasant previous experiences is because they feel like they have no control over the situation.

For example, suppose you were bullied in high school and now feel like everyone will bully you again when they see you. In that case, you might go out of your way to avoid being in public places so no one can see you.

We cannot blame introverts for being like this.

When we experience uncomfortable situations, our brains try to protect us by making it less likely for us to have that kind of feeling again in the future.

So if someone hurt your feelings when they said something mean to you, your brain will learn from that event and make sure it never happens again. It will shut down communication channels between your brain and others as much as possible.

But this also means you’ll become more introverted because being alone with yourself is less stressful than being around others. Besides, everyone needs some time alone once in a while!

Family

Introverts have a unique relationship with their family.

They are often very close with them. But they may also struggle to express that closeness or be able to rely on them for support in the same way that an extrovert would.

A family is also one of the reasons why a person can become introverted.

But in what way?

To begin with, family members often have a lot of expectations for you and your behavior, and they expect you to target those expectations. This can put pressure on you to be someone you’re not.

Second, family members are likely to give unsolicited advice, making you feel like your choices are being questioned, even when they aren’t.

Likewise, because families are usually so close-knit and share so much information, there’s often no privacy or quiet space to think things through on your own.

Lastly, family members tend to get along well with one another, or at least they’re expected to. So if you don’t get along with one of them, it’s likely that others will take their side rather than yours.

Believe it or not, a family can play a huge role in your development as an introvert.

If your family is very extroverted, it may be harder for you to develop and be comfortable with your introversion. Extroverts dominate the conversation and take up most of the airtime.

However, suppose your family is more introverted. In that case, this may make it easier for you to express yourself and not feel like an outsider in the family setting.

But here’s the thing you should always remember. 

Your family loves you, and they want you to be happy! So if they seem uncaring or uninterested in what you have to say, it’s probably because they don’t know how best to communicate with an introvert.

Peers

It’s not uncommon to feel like your peers are judging you. But what if those peers were actually making you more introverted?

First, let’s talk about why peers can make a person introverted. It’s not because they’re bad people or anything like that.

Think back to your own childhood. How many of your classmates were really interested in getting to know you? It’s just that they tend to be very energetic and focused on themselves. 

Probably not many!

But there’s another way that peers can make us feel more introverted.

We tend to compare ourselves to others easily. Nobody likes feeling like they aren’t good enough compared to someone else. So naturally, this will make us feel less confident and less comfortable in social situations.

When we feel judged or criticized by our peers, our brains release cortisol, which is a stress hormone, into our bloodstream in response. 

This can lead to a reaction that leads to anxiety and self-consciousness, making us feel even more introverted than before!

Genetic or environment?

It’s interesting to know that genetics and environment could factor in a person’s introverted personality.

But how and why?

First, let’s talk about genetics.

Many people believe that the introverted personality is just because of the environment you are exposed to.

While this is indeed true, we can also say that genetics has something to do with it.

This is due to the alertness chemical found in our body. These are called neurotransmittersOpens in a new tab.

Neurotransmitters are one of the essential chemicals in our body that we can’t live without. Their duty is to pass through messages or signals from one nerve cell to the other. 

Neurotransmitters control lots of functions in our body, such as.

  • Breathing
  • Stress response
  • Muscle movements
  • Blood pressure
  • Heartbeat
  • Memory and learning
  • Thoughts and feelings
  • Hormone regulation
  • Responses
  • Sleeping
  • Healing
  • Aging

Now, the thing is that introverts have lots of this what we call chemical alertness. 

Consequently, they tend to overreact, overthink, and become more sensitive to their environment than extroverts.

They are quick to observe and respond because of this excess chemical in their bodies. This could pressure how they act, especially in public situations.

So whether you believe it or not, genetics has something to do with an introverted personality.

Second, let’s talk about the environment.

We already discussed some of the common causes above, and they all fall into the environment category.

Things like childhood trauma, previous experiences, and peer and family influences indicate why a person can become introverted. 

It’s pretty understandable how your environment can shape you. But it still depends on you how you’ll react to various situations that you’ll encounter.

How should you approach an introvert?

Now that you know that there are different causes of an introverted personality, it’s time to know what’s the right way to approach them.

So how should you approach an introvert? Well, here are our best tips.

Be patient. 

Always practice being patient when interacting with introverts. They might seem aloof or distant initially, but it’s not because they don’t like you! 

It’s just that their brains take longer to process the world around them, so they may seem a little slow to respond at first. Give them some time and space, and they’ll warm up eventually!

Ask questions instead of giving your own opinions. 

Always connect to introverts the way they understand. 

Introverts are often very good listeners, so asking them about themselves is a great way to help them feel comfortable around you. 

You can also ask questions about things like hobbies or interests. The more you know about someone else’s passions and interests, the easier it will be for you to connect!

Don’t be afraid of silences! 

Introverts are very good at listening and understanding others’ feelings and perspectives. 

So if there’s an awkward silence between two people who aren’t used to being around each other very much like at work or school, don’t worry too much about it.

Just let the dead air, and wait for the right timing to continue the conversation.

Chill and listen.

Avoid asking too many questions at once or talking too much about yourself. Introverts like listening more than talking, so let them do most of the talking.

Give them the spotlight this time. Don’t disturb them while talking, too, because it’s a sign of respect that you’re willing to hear them out.

Get to know them.

Ask questions about their interests and what they like doing. This will help them feel more comfortable around you and make them want to talk more!

Besides, this is what you normally do when you’re befriending someone, isn’t it?

One important rule. Don’t be awkward.

Introverts are often seen as being “awkward,” especially when they’re not engaging in the kind of social activity that extroverts enjoy. 

But if you want to make friends with an introvert, it’s important to understand what’s happening with them. They’re not necessarily awkward. They just have different ways of interacting with people and taking in information than you do. 

So don’t try to push them into being more like you; instead, try to be a friend who understands how they think and act.

Be kind to everyone.

Being kind to everyone is a trait that we should all strive for. Being kind to everyone, especially introverts, can be extremely challenging but also fulfilling.

Introverts are often misunderstood and sometimes even treated poorly because they have different needs and desires than most people. They need time to refuel their energy and do not always enjoy being around large groups of people.

The best thing you can do for introverts is to give them space! Give them space so they can recharge their batteries and enjoy the world around them at their own pace.

Introverts often feel like they don’t fit in with society because they are different than most people. 

But with the right timing, preparation, and support, they can surely make it!

Moreover, being kind will help you remind yourself that other people in the world need your support and love if you’re an extrovert, so why not give it?

If you’re somewhere in between, maybe being kind will help remind you of how essential it is for everyone to have their insight and voices heard in our society and how much we all need each other!

Being thrilled in the hustle and bustle of life is normal and easy, but if you want to make a positive impact, you should consider being kind to everyone. 

Garo Kotchounian

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