Mendoza School of Business

Why being gregarious may torpedo your career

Published: December 22, 2014 / Author: Zosia Bielski

Hey office loudmouth: introverts may be silently judging you, right now.

A new study suggests introverts are highly critical of their extroverted co-workers and will judge their work more harshly than that of their fellow introverts – even if that work is exactly the same. Introverts were also less likely to endorse their extroverted colleagues for promotions or bonuses, according to joint research from Oregon State University, the University of Florida and the University of Notre Dame.
The findings suggest highly extroverted employees may want to tone it down around introverted bosses and colleagues, lest they torpedo their careers.
“We found that introverted employees are especially sensitive to their co-workers’ interpersonal traits, in particular extraversion and disagreeableness,” study co-author and assistant professor at Oregon State University Keith Leavitt said in a release. “They make judgments and evaluate performance of others with those traits in mind.”
The findings, to be published in the Academy of Management Journal, stem from two studies. In the first, 178 MBA students got into groups of four or five for the semester. Halfway through they were asked to fill out personality questionnaires about themselves, as well as performance evaluations of their team members. Introverted pupils gave lower ratings to their extroverted peers than to other introverts. The outgoing students rated their colleagues too: Their evaluations didn’t align with any particular personality trait.
The second experiment involved 143 management students playing a 10-minute online game alongside three teammates. The researchers manipulated one of the team member’s comments and profiles in the game to highlight either introversion or extraversion. But there was no actual difference in that member’s performance. Participants then had to evaluate their teammates and recommend them for promotions or bonuses. Introverts issued weaker evaluations and doled out smaller bonuses to the supposedly extroverted players. As in the first study, extroverted respondents evaluated others on the basis of merit, not what they perceived to be their personality type.
The researchers recommend extroverts bring it down a notch in the office, especially in their interactions with introverted colleagues and employers who may be exhausted by all that effusive energy.
Read the entire article on The Globe and Mail website.