“(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. Based off of the theories of Carl Jung, the two personality preferences are based on where you focus your attention and direct your energy. The two personality types are classified as preferences because nearly everyone spends at least some time in their secondary “mode.”
A small minority of people spend a roughly equal amount of time introverting and extroverting; these interesting folks are known as “ambiverts.” However, the personality of most people can be classified 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 alter 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.
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.
– Are excited and are 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 is that 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; often displaying more positive, outward emotions. This group is well known for making people feel welcome, comfortable, and cared for. Because of 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
According 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.
Terms that are often used 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) and as a result often feel out of place. In other parts of the world, especially in Asia, introverts constitute the majority. Other countries with a significant introverted population include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Due to the common misconceptions of introverts, they are not generally seen as a “happy” group. However, introverts are “happy” – just under different circumstances. Too much social interaction drains introverts of their relatively limited energy supply, while solitude and quiet environments recharge them – 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 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, current President of Russia
As clearly seen, introverts and extroverts have very diverse personalities. 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, with the strongest influence being the chemical makeup of your brain.
Researchers have concluded 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 of have important roles to play in society, at home, and in the workplace.
Hopefully, this article has provided some great insight into where you fit along the introvert/extrovert spectrum. If you desire to learn some more about your specific personality type (there are 16!), we recommend taking the free HumanMetrics Jung Typology test, which can be found here (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp)