Can Introverts Be Successful in Any Occupation?

  |   Blog

It’s sometimes claimed that personality testing is a good basis for career planning. The problem is lack of credible evidence.

Personality testing, particularly when applied to career guidance, is fraught with difficulties, not least in terms of reliability and validity. Nevertheless here are a few things we can definitely say.

  • Personality factors are dimensions, not categories. Like physical factors such as height, people are not either tall or short. Rather they vary along a continuum from very tall to very short, with most of us somewhere in the middle. Similarly with weight, foot size, IQ, mathematical ability, and most other things you care to name. Ditto with personality factors: we simply don’t fall into neat boxes.
  • Perhaps the oldest personality type indicator is the horoscope, developed in pre-scientific, flat earth” times. Popular (it seems) but lacking credible evidence or research. And that’s emblematic of some personality testing with a history of inventing (thinking up) categories and promoting them to the unsuspecting public. On the other hand, evidence based personality testing does exist.
  • One of the best researched personality dimensions is Introversion. Much evidence has been provided by researchers. But again, people can’t be divided up into categories (eg Introversion or Extraversion). Rather we all vary on a continuum.
  • Can a person who loads highly on the Introversion factor be successful in any profession?
    Introversion simply isn’t a good predictor of career success (or lack of). Nor is it particularly useful for career guidance.

From the roughly one third of the population who display Introversion characteristics, here is a short list of successful people (published in the Huffington Post):
Albert Einstein                                                     Michael Jordan
Gwyneth Paltrow                                                 Harrison Ford
Charles Darwin                                                    David Letterman
Bill Gates                                                               Abraham Lincoln
Christina Aguilera                                               Eleanor Roosevelt
Courteney Cox                                                     J.K.Rowling
Emma Watson                                                     Mahatma Gandhi
Laura Bush                                                           Rosa Parks
Audrey Hepburn                                                 Warren Buffett
Roy Rogers                                                           Candice Bergen