Introverts and extroverts alike came together at the McPherson Public Library Monday night to talk about how different personalities interact with each other and the world.

Introverts and extroverts alike came together at the McPherson Public Library Monday night to talk about how different personalities interact with each other and the world.

The discussion was the third in a series the library hosted this summer. Each session was based on a TED Talk, in which speakers share ideas on a wide array of topics.

Monday's talk, "The Power of Introverts" by Susan Cain, focused on how society has developed in such a way that introversion is sometimes seen as a bad thing, contrary to the way people saw introverts in the past.

Cain, who identifies as an introvert, explained how when she was growing up, she often felt pressure to be more like extroverts. As an example, she shared her first experience attending a summer camp, where she expected to have a lot of time to herself reading.

"In reality, it was more like a keg party without the alcohol," she said.

Campers and counselors alike encouraged her to constantly be involved in group activities — a behavior many introverts find exhausting.

"I could tell 50 stories like that where being an introvert was not right, and I always thought I was wrong," she said.

Cain said these experiences led her to alter her career course and go out of her way to act more like an extrovert. However, she believes introverted behaviors are necessary in the world.

"Introversion is not the same as being shy," she said. "It's about how people respond to stimuli. Introverts like having less."

She said in the last century, institutions like schools and businesses have put increasing emphasis that favor extroverted behaviors, such as group work and collaboration. While these things are important, she said, it is equally important for people to have time alone to create their own ideas — behavior typically associated with introversion.

"Solitude matters. We have known that for a century, but recently we have started to forget."

She said time alone is important because when people work in groups, they tend to start thinking alike and following the most charismatic people, rather than coming up with individual, unique ideas. For this reason, she encourages a better balance between group and individual work, and for people to focus on the unique things they bring to a group, rather than trying to pretend everyone thinks alike.

During the group discussion, participants took an informal quiz to determine whether they identify more strongly as an introvert or an extrovert. Questions included how much a person enjoys being in a group and willingness to take risks.

Participants brought up different factors that can influence a person's personality, such as culture and upbringing, that might influence whether that person is more introverted or extroverted.

They also addressed how personality is not set in cement, but can change over time with experience and age.

"Years ago, I would have identified as much more of an extrovert," said one participant. "Now, according to these questions anyway, it's more even."

Participants also talked about advantages and disadvantages of different behaviors, depending on the situation. In general, participants said introverts might be better at coming up with individual ideas, while extroverts might be more adept at putting different ideas together.

For this reason, it could be advantageous to have a mix of both personalities.

However, participants also said that introversion and extroversions aren't the only factors in a person's personality, and that there is a lot of overlap between how introverts and extroverts act.