29 June 2009

Introverted Scientists?

I'll throw this out for discussion: Are scientists in general introverted? Certainly that's the stereotype in the US. And my experiences have supported that general view. Compared to the US norm, I'm in the middle between quiet/retiring and loud/outgoing, but at a scientific meeting, I'm well towards the outgoing end of the spectrum.

Since a fair number of non-US readers are here, additional questions are
a) Is that same stereotype common in your country (and what country is it)?
b) Do the scientists in general follow it?

This was brought to mind by some recent meetings I've been at which included non-US scientists, or a meeting that was just US folks, but not just scientists. It looked like the non-US scientists weren't nearly as quiet/retiring as the US norm.

If anyone knows of some research on the subject, that'll be even better than anecdotes!


EliRabett said...

You could as well look at letters of reference in the US which tend to be a bit inflated (nil nisi bonem and all that). OTOH, as a general rule, just look at who sits where in a conference. (Eli is at the back with his computer....)

Alastair said...

On Wednesday evening I attended the R. Met. Soc. conference dinner, where I shared a table with Bob Watson ex IPCC.(His joining us was a bit of a mistake, and also a little bit of subterfuge :-) He is an extrovert, but very few of the other 200 at the dinner were.

What then is the proportion of extroverts to introverts in the general population? I doubt that it is as high as 50%:50% that the question implies, and much fewer than in the population of bloggers.

llewelly said...

"Are scientists in general introverted?"

I am not a scientist. (Nor do I have any friends who are scientists.) I can only claim to have to searched the online literature as best as my meagre research abilities allow. I have found no evidence. I have also spent many fruitless hours hounding denizens of the internet who assert scientists are in general introverted. None have of them have pointed me to any evidence. So while the notion seems well-supported anecdotally, I feel I must conclude (until presented with evidence to the contrary) that scientists are no more introverted than non-scientists.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related, don't know if you caught this: http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2009/10/book_review_dont_be_such_a_sci.php