Fresh Look – The political problem of being an introverted male

Taking an active role in office politics is psychologically taxing, and you can’t do it without social support.[1] Here I’m talking about being the beneficiary of advice, empathy, encouragement and help with practical tasks.[2] Without support, you will be unable to get your psychic batteries charged, and you will be alone to craft all your political moves.

New research shows that females are recipients of more support than males and that extraverts receive more support than introverts.[3] So, what do you do if you are an introverted male? Although there is evidence that introversion is genetic[4], there is also compelling evidence that introverts erroneously underestimate the benefits of coming out of their shells.[5] Unless you want to withdraw entirely from the political scene and let others control your fate, you can either act against your preferences and network or you can attempt to go it alone and burn out.

[1] S. Sun & H. Chen. In press. Is political behavior a viable coping strategy to perceived organizational politics? Unveiling the underlying resource dynamics. Journal of Applied Psychology.
[2] M. Barrera, I. Sandler & T. Ramsay. 1981. Preliminary development of a scale of social support: Studies on college students. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9: 435-447.
[3] J. Williamson & M. O’Hara. 2017. Who gets social support, who gives it, and how it’s related to recipient’s mood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43 (10): 1355–1377.
[4] T. Rammsayer. 1998. Extraversion and dopamine: Individual differences in response to changes in dopaminergic activity as a possible biological basis of extraversion. European Psychologist, 3 (1): 37-50.
[5] J. Zelenski, D. Whelan, L. Nealis, C. Besner, M. Santoro & J. Wynn. 2013. Personality and affective forecasting: Trait introverts underpredict the hedonic benefits of acting extraverted. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104 (6): 1092–1108.