I’m sure you’ve experienced this exercise at a conference. You know what comes next:
- Introduce yourself to them…
- Tell them what you think of them…
- Ask them why they came, etc.
The reason that these exercises are so common is that conference organisers are virtually always extraverts, and they love this kind of thing. This is also why around half of the audience, the introverts, are somewhere between mildly uncomfortable and squirming. They don’t feel comfortable with such activities, and this is their perfect right.
One of the most common characteristics of human beings is a thing called “false consensus bias” (Ross et al, 1977). In other words, if I think something then everyone else will too. So, if I am an extraverted conference organiser, everyone will love the activities I love.
This bias also has a big impact on interview panels. For instance, if I don’t like a candidate, the false consensus effect leads me to label them “a bad culture match”, because everyone else will dislike them too, won’t they?
Mind you, it makes sense to recruit extraverts to jobs which require socially assertive behaviour, just like it makes sense to recruit introverts to jobs which require deep thought and planning. We introverts are good at that kind of thing.
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*Ross, Lee; Greene, David; House, Pamela (1977). “The “false consensus effect”: An egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes” (PDF). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 13 (3): 279–301.
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