Showing posts with label Personal strengths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal strengths. Show all posts

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Quiet – The Power of Introverts - A Book Review



The Power of Introverts in a World

That Can’t Stop Talking



  Susan Cain

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

As the subtitle explains, Quiet is about introverts in an extroverted culture. As a psychologist, I appreciate Cain’s exploration of personality psychology, which included interviews with experts and an awareness of the differences between her broader view of introversion and extroversion compared to the less encompassing features that comprise the personality construct in psychology.

As a person favoring many features linked to introversion, I can identify with her stories and affirm the effort required to adapt to the demands of an extrovert-driven culture. In fact, American culture was a bit of a shock to us when we first came to the United States from England where the norm seems to be a polite reserve punctuated with copious amounts of saying “sorry” when we perceive we may have offended someone. What I did not realize as a child is that entire cultures could be viewed along a continuum between introversion and extroversion. Although Cain does not address contrasting cultures, she does a fine job of portraying the extrovert ideal in American culture along with the difficulties introverts have of fitting in to the incessant demands to be outgoing and “come out of your shell.”.


Although Cain refers to personality types, she is aware that people vary in the features that are critical to defining the trait of introversion. Unlike dense psychological manuscripts, she fills her chapters with interesting stories of people from various walks of life who present key features of introversion or extroversion. We have met these people, worked with them, voted for them, and shared with them throughout our lives. What we may not have realized is the contrast between the way introverts would organize and structure their lives if they were not continually pulled into the extroverts’ arena in a culture that values the extrovert ideal.


Cain introduces readers to numerous examples and interesting studies of introversion and extroversion, which gives readers a feel for how people think and act when their personality fits best with one type or the other. Then Cain addresses the age-old question of how to view the blend of biologically based temperaments and life experiences in shaping our tendencies toward introversion or extroversion.



Read more about Introversion and Extroversion

The Psychology of Introversion

The Psychology of Extroversion (extraversion)

Learn about the Big Five Personality Traits


Take an online test that includes measures of introversion and extraversion

   A Big Five test, which includes Extroversion-Introversion


  The HEXACO test, which includes the “X” trait for Extroversion- introversion


 Readers are not left without some suggestions, which strike a balance for introverts between being true to oneself while adapting to the demands of a culture where extroverts often take center stage in the classroom, the office, and even in relationships. Her examples suggest we introverts can learn to interact with the public for brief periods of time and give ourselves that soul-restoring break by retreating to a safe place.

Cain includes tips on communication and suggestions for teachers and parents. Rather than worry about a reticent child, we can help them gradually learn to interact in small groups. And we can be sensitive to sensitive children.




Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York: Crown  Available on AMAZON

Sutton, G. W. (2022 November 17).Quiet-The Power of Introverts- A Book Review. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Book Reviews.  Retrieved from

Quiet Technical notes: Introduction + 11 Chapters + Conclusion pages 1-266. Hardback edition USD $26.00     Quiet is available on AMAZON  



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Watch Susan Cain's TED talk on YouTube: "The Power of Introverts."

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Strengthquest- A book review by Sutton





   Donald O. Clifton &
   Edward Anderson

Reviewed by
   Geoffrey W. Sutton

I read and reviewed (Sutton, 2007b) the 2004 edition of this book published by Gallup. There is a new version (Second Edition), which includes a third author, Laurie Schreiner. The authors present their strength-based philosophy, which fits nicely with the concurrent trend in positive psychology (Sutton, 2007a). Others have shown how the strengths approach is compatible with Christianity (e.g., see Sutton, 2007c).
"A strength is the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a given activity (p. 8)."
The authors explain how talent, qua raw material, can be combined with knowledge and
skill to produce a unique pattern of strengths.

The book and the test have been revised. Overall, I think this approach to identifying personal strengths is a useful starting point in academic and vocational counseling. I also think it is a good reminder for those of us who worked in education and psychotherapy to ensure an adequate focus on the strengths of students and patients. I do not think we can ignore diagnoses, but I do think it is too easy to forget a person's strengths.

In addition to the review, I worked with colleagues on a strengths study, which was published in 2011 (see below).


Sutton, G. W. (2007a). [Review of the book Positive psychology: The scientific and practical explorations of human strengths by C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez]. Journal of Christianity and Psychology, 26, 273-274.   Academia Link    ResearchGate Link

 Sutton, G. W. (2007b). [Review of the book StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond by D. Clifton & E. Anderson]. Journal of Christianity and Psychology, 26, 82-83.   Academia Link    ResearchGate Link  

Sutton, G. W. (2007c). Strengths and Christian Service. [Review of the book Living your strengths: Discover your God-given talents, and inspire your congregation and community by A. Winseman, D. Clifton, & C. Liesveld]. Unpublished manuscript available at

Sutton, G. W., Phillips, S., Lehnert, A. B., Bartle, B. W., & Yokomizo, P. (2011). Strengths, academic self-efficacy, admission test scores, and GPA in a Christian university sample. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 30, 28-36.  Academia Link    Research Gate Link

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Are there too many psychotherapists for our own good? One Nation Under Therapy Book Review




By Christina Hoff Sommers
 & Sally Satel

Reviewed by

Geoffrey W. Sutton

I like to return to New York City on occasion to remember my arrival in the United States. On one visit after 911, we stopped in a Barnes & Noble bookstore and I came across this interesting book, “One Nation Under Therapy.”

I’ve been a psychotherapist for years. And like many clinicians, I’ve seen people with a broad range of symptom severity. Some of course struggled so much they required 24-hour care. Others were quite healthy but wanted a confidential sounding board-- nothing wrong with that.

But the authors of One Nation Under Therapy have a point-- some in our culture are probably too dependent on outside assistance and have not learned the skills needed to independently manage the rough and tumble of daily life.

As I look back on what I wrote, I think this dependency may be true of many facets of life. For example, we are forced to see physicians to obtain routine medication and the responsibility for pain medication seems to be more and more in the hands of physicians instead of patients in pain. Naturally, physicians are concerned about their patients' well-being. But I think we've placed too much responsibility on them. We need to be responsible for our pain.

 In fitness centers, people hire trainers to run through quite mundane routines-- nothing wrong with that. And some may benefit from the accountability. However, I value freedom and setting my own goals. I suppose people get used to different ways of obtaining fitness.

And churches employ a raft of staff to cater to the expectations of congregants--nothing wrong with that for those who want to support the expense. I think it's more of what you get used to. Many of us get by with encouraging words from friends, inspirational music, books, and videos.

I think people become too dependent on others for well-being, but I remain concerned about those who do not seek treatment because of persistent stigma.

Maybe some psychotherapists do not encourage patient responsibility. However, I do not see anything amiss with healthy people focused on personal growth.

Perhaps some people are overly self-reliant and need to reach out for support.

If you are interested in these issues, I think you will find the ideas in this book worth reading. Not every person needs a psychotherapist. But then again, many who need psychotherapists cannot find one or cannot afford one.

Here’s a link to the full review published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. It is a free pdf download.

Academia Link to my review:  Geoff Sutton

ResearchGate Link to my review: Geoffrey W Sutton

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A House Divided  AMAZON

 A House Divided

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015



Living your Strengths

By Albert L. Winseman,  Donald O. Clifton,  
& Curt Liesveld

A Review by Geoffrey W. Sutton


Many U.S. Universities embraced Gallup’s approach to assessing strengths and discussing how strengths may be used in Higher Education. I attended workshops and conferences organized by the Gallup organization.

 The Authors

Albert L. Winesman, a former pastor in the United Methodist Church, is the global practice leader for the Gallup Organization. Donald O. Clifton (deceased) former chair of the Gallup Organization, was named the Father of Strengths Psychology by the American Psychological Association. Curt Liesveld, formerly a pastor in the Reformed Church in America, is a developmental analyst, consultant, and seminar leader with the Gallup Organization.

My Review

            “If you’re like most people, you have grown up with the ‘weakness prevention’ model (p. ix).” The authors contrast their focus on discovering and developing God-given strengths with         what they perceive as a Christian tradition of focusing on discovering and fixing weaknesses. This book is an application of Gallup’s successful StrengthsFinder assessment instrument and program to the church setting. The authors define strength as “the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a given activity (p. 3).” Talent can be combined with knowledge and skill to produce a unique pattern of strengths. Talents are those natural tendencies such as the ability to thrive under pressure or recognize the uniqueness of others. Readers can begin their quest by using the ID code that comes with each book to take the 180-item StrengthsFinder online assessment. Those items are associated with 34 areas of strength (e.g., Belief, Connectedness, Developer, Empathy). The assessment report lists and describes the top five areas, which represent a person’s dominant, or Signature Themes.

            Chapter one provides introductory material. Following the basic definition of strength, the authors purport to provide a “theology of strengths.” Unfortunately, the three-page treatise proposes more than it delivers. By quoting only three scriptures, this section can only serve as a stimulus for thinking about such a theology.

            In Chapter 2, readers learn the descriptions of the 34 strengths. Each description covers a little more than a page and includes a paragraph of descriptive information, a list of five insights that suggest how the strength may be recognized, and scriptural quotes related to the strength. Following is an example of one insight for a person with the Developer strength: “You love to see others make progress, and you will notice even the slightest progress (p. 48).” Only New Testament scriptures are cited to illustrate the Developer strength; for instance, Philippians 1:3-6 and 2 Timothy 2:2.

            Readers learn how they can use their talents for growth and service in Chapter 3. The authors encourage people with the Empathy talent to develop it by recognizing their need for experiential worship and employing their sensitivity to help those who have experienced loss and need extra attention. They wisely advise those with empathy to recognize the need to set limits. Chapters 4 and 5 contain brief suggestions on how to recognize the strengths of others within a faith community and how to use the focus on strengths to identify one’s calling.

            The book concludes with A Technical Report on StrengthsFinder. The authors provide what might be seen as an Appendix that contains simplified explanations of information supporting the construct validity of the StrengthsFinder instrument. For example, they reported test-retest reliability of .60 to .80 for most signature themes (no tables provided) and they provided quantitative results showing trivial score differences for such categories as race, sex, and age. An interesting tidbit is tucked away on pages 200-201 that suggests the strengths may be grouped into four categories of Striving, Relating, Impacting, and Thinking. There is no explanation of what strengths are associated with these categories or information on reliability or validity. I was able to obtain a list of strengths associated with the categories from the Gallup Organization but I was unable to obtain any psychometric data regarding these groupings.

            The book is most suitable for educated parishioners who are interested in a reasonably sophisticated instrument that assesses human strengths and positive attributes that can have application in any organization. Readers who work in an educational setting or provide career counseling in their clinical practice may find the book a useful supplement for students and clients. Clinicians and church leaders can profit from an understanding of the language of strengths that may be used by their clients who have participated in the growing number of strength-based programs in colleges and industrial settings. The book is an interesting first attempt to integrate faith with the strengths model.

Interested readers can find more information at Gallup’s website.

Important Note

A more recent edition of the book is available.

Citing this blog post

Sutton, G. W. (2015, December 30). Strengths and Christian Service. [Web log post]. Retrieved from 

Book Reference

Winseman, A. L., Clifton, D. O., & Liesveld, C. (2003). Living your Strengths: Discover your God-given talents, and inspire your congregation and community. Washington, DC: Gallup.

Research on strengths in a Christian sample

When I worked at a Christian university, I joined with my colleagues to carry out a study of strengths, which was subsequently published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. The article and can be found at researchgate.