Mendoza School of Business

Attention Extroverts: Your Introverted Coworkers Are Quietly Judging You

Published: December 18, 2014 / Author: Chris Gayomali

In your head you’re probably a model employee. You show up on time, inbox zero is a real possibility, and you somehow still make time to float around desk to desk to chat it up with your colleagues. People like you! As they should.

Well, not so fast. As it turns out, all that outgoingness could be detrimental to how your more introverted coworkers view your job performance. Researchers at Oregon State University found in two separate controlled studies that introverts view their more extroverted counterparts as worse performers. Furthermore, introverts were less likely to recommend their extroverted teammates for promotions or other advancement opportunities behind closed doors. Which, geez.

Before we get too far into this research, though, it’s important to note that no one is a “true” introvert or extrovert. It’s more a spectrum, and most people tend to fall somewhere in the middle.

For these twin studies, researchers from Oregon State University, as well as a few from the University of Florida and the University of Notre Dame, set up two scenarios to survey hundreds of students. In the first study of 178 MBA students at an unnamed university, each student was assigned to a small four- or five-person team, and asked to complete a task as a group. The task itself didn’t really matter. At the end, they were asked to complete surveys about their teammates personalities, as well as how competent they thought they were.

In the second study, 143 students in a different management program were asked to participate in a 10-minute online game. Each person was assigned three teammates. The big catch was that the teammates weren’t actually teammates: They were fakes manipulated by researchers to either appear more extroverted or more introverted. Their performance in the game was constant. At the end of the exercise, the management students were asked to assign bonuses to their teammates.

Both studies reached a similar conclusion: The more introverted among the groups tended to view their more extroverted teammates—whether real or fictional—as less capable at their assigned duties. One possible takeaway? Judgments of your job performance are never purely performance-based.

“The magnitude with which introverts underrated performance of extroverts was surprising,” said co-author Keith Leavitt, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Business, in a statement. “The results were very consistent across both studies.”

Read this story on the Fast Company website.