Friday, 13 February 2015

Introversion/ Extraversion and Neuroticism/ Emotional Stability in Genius

I have written extensively on the Psychoticism trait  - its nature and role in Genius; but have so-far neglected to discuss Eysenck's other suggested major personality traits of Introversion/ Extraversion and Neuroticism/ Emotional Stability



In general, it would be expected that Introversion trait was high in genius - in the sense that introverts are inner-stimulated and autonomous of their environment, in contrast with extraverts who depend on external stimulus to maintain a state of arousal or alertness.

But the self-rating scales for measuring Introversion focus on behaviours, and not psychological mechanisms - therefore those scoring high in Introversion will include people who are simply anhedonic, inactive; who lack motivation and drive - and these attributes would be fatal to the prospects of a genius accomplishing anything significant.

In other words, real Introversion would be a characteristic of genius, but a high score on the introversion scale would also contain undermotivated people - thereby blurring the measurement by misclassification error.

Thus, a genius needs to be a genuine introvert; but people with pathology might lead to 'false positive' measures of high introversion.



Analogously, but in the opposite direction, high Neuroticism (N) would be bad for a genius, in the sense that N refers to an unpleasant and overwhelming sensitivity of emotions and moods to the environment - such that a high N person tends to be overwhelmed with negative emotions such as anxiety, shyness, low self esteem, misery etc.

But the opposite state of low-N (or high Emotional Stability) as it is measured by behavioural questionnaires, is also potentially hostile to genius, since it implies an insensivity to events; a lack of emotional-responsiveness - including people with weak emotions.

These would all tend to be a disadvantage to genius - since emotions are used to evaluate situations and evidence; so weak emotions would tend to impair discrimination.

These would be the processes of Neuroticism, but in practice N is measured using a tally of (usually self-reported) behavioural traits - and these could not distinguish between different causes of the same behaviour; and so would conflate subtle and useful emotional sensitivity, with the pathological state of too-easy triggering of negative emotions.

So, a genius might score as somewhat high in N, but this would not necessarily reflect a pathology.