Extroverts are social and draw their energy from spending time with other people. Introverts are more reserved in new social situations, preferring time spent with close friends, and need solitude to feel energized.
We mostly think about extroversion and introversion in the context of social situations, but they impact our behavior in other ways such as the language we use and the tasks we excel at.
Extroverts and introverts express themselves in very different ways. An introvert describing a picture tends to use nouns and verbs to literally describe the picture (“The man yells at the waiter”), whereas an extrovert would describe the same picture with adjectives that inherently draw conclusions (“The man is angry”). Introverts hesitate to express certainty, using terms like “but,” “except,” and “perhaps.” Extroverts, in contrast, readily use terms of certainty like “always.” Introverts use concrete and nuanced language, whereas extroverts use abstract language and draw more sweeping conclusions.
These differences in the level of precision are reflected in the type of tasks that introverts and extroverts excel in. Extroverts' looser style lends itself to situations where complex tasks need to be performed quickly. Introverts focus, desire to avoid mistakes, and habit of thinking through every facet of an idea results in a slower workflow that works best for tasks where accuracy and vigilance are more important than speed.
So who is better at blogging, extroverts or introverts?
Asking ourselves the question, our first hunch was that extroverts have the edge. Blogging - whether as an after work pastime or a professional gig - requires producing lots of content very quickly. And readers tend to like and share posts that have a clear, bold conclusion. Last week, Priceonomics published a blog post asking whether the senior citizen discount should still exist in the US given seniors’ rising level of financial stability since the idea of giving extra aid to seniors originated in the 1930s.
We thought of many nuanced reasons that spoke to each side of the argument, but, restraining every introverted bone in our bodies, we eschewed nuance and drew a catchy conclusion about how twentysomethings should now get those discounts instead. (In effect, we drew a conclusion about a major piece of domestic policy in a 450 word blog post). We have little doubt that the post did much better as a result.
But there is also good reason to think that introverts have the edge. After all, introverts' use of concrete language (strong nouns and verbs instead of adjectives) is the Hemingway approved style of superior writing.
Moreover, from our perch on the Internet, the idea that only superficial, short and sensationalist blog posts succeed on the Internet seems like a myth. Some of the most widely read and shared content includes long, nuanced journalism of the type found on Longreads or detailed, well thought out analysis from industry leaders like the essays of Paul Graham. At Priceonomics, we’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm people have for our 4,000+ word blog posts.
Perhaps the best bloggers are ambiverts - people who fall in the middle of the spectrum between introverts and extroverts. Great bloggers need an extrovert’s ability to quickly draw clear conclusions about complex material. But they also need an introvert’s use of concrete language and evidence, as well as the focus and nuance to dig up novel aspects of a story that others may have missed.