Does Social Distancing Equally Affect Introverts and Extroverts?
Mattias Mehl, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona, thinks that it would be more appropriate to call it “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” as social interaction, although indirectly, is quite important for introverts and extroverts in such times.
Even though it is true that introverts may be more accustomed to spending more time alone and be comfortable this way, both introverts and extroverts require human interactions for their own health.
Mehl said that “introverts, on average, actually have less social interaction while extroverts have more interaction, on average.” “In this sense, social distancing brings about more challenges for extroverts, because it becomes much harder for them to have the high number of social interactions that they typically have. However, it is not a situation for introverts that could be called “as usual” under any circumstances.”
“Based on scientific data, we find that extroversion is significantly correlated with receiving more social support and we believe that it is easier for extroverts to have access to others by saying that they are in need of help and support,” said Mehl. “When considered from this perspective, extroverts may have an advantage in social distancing. In my opinion, reaching others and asking for help and support are quite important, and that’s why it could be more difficult for introverts.”
Previous studies of Mehl showed how important human interactions are for health, regardless of whether a person is an introvert or extrovert.
Mehl said that social interaction is particularly important in stressful times like the one we are going through now.
“Unfortunately, we may have decided to call it “social distancing”, yet what matters is physical distancing, not social isolation,” says Mehl. In times like these, it is absolutely important to have and seek for social interactions, not being physically close to others.
“There are many news articles and debates on how social media and messaging cause us to become distant from each other and how they directly channel us to loneliness. I am not saying that this is absolutely wrong, but social media is currently an unavoidable tool used for having interactions. Therefore, at this moment, I believe there is a huge potential for reconsidering what social media does. Sometimes, we think that this is the curse of the society, yet in times like this, this is a blessing for the society, to say the least,” says Mehl.
Arizona Üniversitesi (2020)