Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?

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“(Carl) Jung was the first to propose the model of psychic energy, suggesting that for introverts, energy flows inward, while for extroverts, energy flows outward…” – Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Loving a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

Introversion and extroversion are two different personality types. These types arise from the theories of Carl Jung. He noted that the two personality types stem from where you focus your attention and direct your energy. Furthermore, the two personality types are classified as preferences. That’s because nearly everyone spends at least some time in their secondary “mode.”

In addition, a small minority of people spend roughly equal amounts of time introverting and extroverting. These interesting folks are  “ambiverts.” However, scientists classify the personalities of most people into one of the two main types.

The differences in personality types result from how our brains are wired and the variances in brain chemistry. Our environment can also influence how much we alternate between types.

The brains of introverts and extroverts are activated (aroused) under different circumstances. Extroverts require more stimulation from the outside world, which is where these individuals gain their energy. Introverts are stimulated internally and quickly deplete their energy with too much social interaction.

Primary Traits of Extroverts

Here is the basic breakdown of Extroversion from the Myers & Briggs Foundation, administrators of the infamous Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI) test. According to Myers & Briggs, extroverts:

– Get their energy from active involvement in events and various activities.

– Become excited and energized around other people.

– Prefer to take action first and think later.

– Are often seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”

– Have a wide range of friends and know many people.

– Are often seen as great motivators who inspire those they are around.

– Often dive into a project, hoping to figure out the details as they go along.

Terms that are often used when describing extroverts include:

Sociable; warm; friendly; happy; enthusiastic; inclusive; aggressive; forthright; impulsive; thrill-seeker; interactive; engaging; open; charismatic; networker; attention-seeker; energetic; risk-taker

In general, extroversion is viewed more positively in Western society than elsewhere. The reason for this? Perhaps because extroverts outnumber introverts by about 3 to 1 in the United States and a few European countries. This number drops significantly as you move eastward from the U.S. on a map.

Extroverts also have higher levels of subjective happiness than introverts do. In fact, the often display more positive, outward emotions. Because of this, the group is well known for making people feel welcome, comfortable, and cared for. Also, due to this disposition, extroverts make excellent managers, coaches, leaders, politicians, counselors, and teachers.

Famous extroverts include:

– Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

– Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister

– Michael Jordan, Basketball great and Hall of Fame inductee

– Boris Yeltsin, Russian president from 1990 to 2000

– Muhammad Ali, former professional boxer and 3-time heavyweight champion

– Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and Nobel Prize winner

– George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

– Oscar Wilde, famous Playwright

– Martin Luther King Jr., Civil rights activist

– Oprah Winfrey, famous talk show host and philanthropist

Primary Traits of Introverts

According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation introverts:

– Get their energy from ideas, pictures, memories, and other thoughts

– Energy is quickly depleted by socializing too much.

– Prefer to take reflect first and take action later.

– Are often seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”

– Have a smaller circle of friends, but have deeper relationships.

– Often spend too much time reflecting; sometimes regretting not “taking action” sooner.

– Often lay out a project in detail before diving in.

In addition, terms that psychologists frequently use when describing introverts include:

Reflective; reserved; quiet; aloof; shy; creative; thoughtful; risk-averse; individualistic; lone-wolf; idea-producer; introspective; deep; listener; methodical; solitude-seeker; planner; conflict-averse

Introverts are the minority in Western society, especially in the United States. As a result, they often feel out of place. In other parts of the world, especially in Asia, introverts constitute the majority. Additionally, countries with a significant introverted population include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Due to the common misconceptions of introverts, we sometimes view them as not a “happy” group. However, introverts are “happy” – just under different circumstances. This means that too much social interaction drains introverts of their relatively limited energy supply. On the other hand, solitude and quiet environments recharge them. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of their extroverted counterparts.

Because of their ability to work independently, meticulous attention to detail, and ability to concentrate for long durations of time, introverts often make great scientists, writers, engineers, architects, librarians, and analysts.

Famous introverts include:

– Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

– Albert Einstein, renowned theoretical physicist; developed theory of relativity

– Barack Obama, 44th and current President of the United States

– Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement

– Charles Darwin, founder of the theory of evolution

– Rosa Parks, African-American Civil Rights activist

– Warren Buffett, business magnate, investor and philanthropist

– Joe DiMaggio, former Yankee and Hall of Fame baseball player

– Edgar Allen Poe, famous author and poet

– Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

So as you may see, introverts and extroverts have very diverse personalities. Of course, there is no “right” or “wrong” personality type – just different. Your brain and environment both shape the tendency to lean towards one end of the spectrum. Thus, the strongest influence being is simply the chemical makeup of your brain.

Finally, researchers conclude that there is no significant difference in intelligence or ability. Despite the misconceptions that each type may or may not have about the other, both types have important roles to play in society, at home, and in the workplace.

In closing, we hope this article provides you with great insight into where you fit along the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Furthermore, you can learn some more about your specific personality type (there are 16!). Because it offers tremendous insight to your psyche, we recommend taking the free HumanMetrics Jung Typology test.

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