I’ve been exploring Introverts and Extroverts for some time now. I’ve written a few articles and read a few more discovering the phenomena of, so known, being more or less social labelled as introverts and extroverts.
I am, myself, an introvert surrounded by extroverts hence I am constantly looking for better ways to explain the two and connect with each other better. Introverts are often seen as shy, reserved and typically self-centered individuals… well, in fact, they are simply thinkers.
Introverts are often perceived as anti-social, self-absorbed and … weird. Extroverts are loved by everyone and noticeable everywhere, they are loud and fun and everyone wants to be with them. Introverts are quite, they don’t have many friends and no one really notices them. Extroverts become successful business people (do they?), managers and leaders whereas introverts work in the library or get involved in some boring science activities (or do they?). Extroverts are always happy and introverts are always depressed. Extroverts are always stressed and introverts are always mellow.
LET ME PLEASE REASSURE YOU THAT IT IS NOT ALL THAT SIMPLE!
Discovering the spectrum of introversion-extroversion and uncovering the discrepancies was a topics, Nutrition & Well being Consultant, Melissa Legovic approached me a few months ago. I was seeking like-minded people to write a piece of this phenomena together; and Melissa seems to be interested in the topic.
Melissa agrees that we are often categorised into an ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’ labelled by people around us and many self-help books. However, Melissa believes that we need to really think about how accurate the ‘accusations’ are. Melissa introduced me to the Introvert-Extrovert continuum which basically illustrates that we are not The One or Another but the combination of the both. Here are some both extroverts and introverts’ definitions Melissa shared with me:
|Characteristics of Extroverts
||Characteristics of Introverts
- Volunteers personal information
- Easy to approach
- Like to socialise
- Get energy from being around others
- Acts before thinking
- Quiet and reserved
- Prefers to interact with fewer friends
- Enjoys quiet
- Gets energy from time alone
- Thinks before acting
Melisa raises an interesting topic asking some challenging questions.
“How often do we find ourselves acting like an extrovert when we know (is it possible to know hundred per cent?) we are an introvert? Do you often find yourself behaving like an introvert even though you prefer to be an extrovert?” Melissa asks.
Melissa believes that we tend to switch our preferences from one to another. It doesn’t mean though that we ‘become’ an extrovert when required or other way round; however often shift from one to another and back depending on the situation. Let’s see what Melissa means by it:
- You are an extrovert. However as soon as joined up with small group of close friends who you almost become an introvert. All of a sudden, you seem like the introvert in the entire group.
- You are an introvert, but are working with a group of people who are more introvert than you; you have appeared to be an extrovert!
- There is a team of introverts who are discussing an issue that needs solving. Everyone have something to contribute and there is lots of noise and chatter among the group. You walk past and perceive it is a group of extroverts.
“The point is that nothing is concrete and fixed” – says Melissa, – “It depends on the context as well as your nature. It depends on, as I call it, the reference point. It depends on how confident and familiar you are with the subject matter. It depends if you’ve been having a good day or a bad day.“
Historically, there has been just as much confusion in the psychological literature. Carl Jung originally defined introversion as a focus on one’s “inwardly directed psychic energy”. However, in the 30s, the psychologist J.P. Guilford showed that various attempts to measure Jung’s conceptualization of introversion resulted in multiple, distinct factors. In other words, there didn’t appear to be a single dimension of personality that captured all of introversion.
Jung defined introversion as an “attitude-type characterised by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents” (or focus on one’s inner psychic activity). Extroversion on the other hand was defined as “an attitude type characterised by concentration of interest on the external object” (or the outside world).
The most common misunderstanding of the extroversion-introversion dimension is that introverts are more introspective than extroverts. In reality, introverts are not necessarily introspective and highly introspective people aren’t necessarily introverted. In a recent analysis, Jennifer Grimes, Jonathan Cheek, and Julie Norem found that measures of Jung’s conceptualization of “Thinking Introversion”– introspectiveness, fantasy proneness, and having a rich inner life– were not significantly correlated with Big Five scales of extraversion-introversion, including a need for positive stimulation and gregariousness.
What many people ascribe to introversion really belongs in the intellect/imagination domain. Intellect/imagination represents a drive for cognitive engagement of inner mental experience, and encompasses a wide range of related (but partially separate) traits, including intellectual engagement, intellectual curiosity, intellectual depth, ingenuity, reflection, introspection, imagination, emotional richness, artistic engagement, and aesthetic interests.
Interestingly, “people who score low in extroversion are not necessarily turned inward; rather, they are less engaged, motivated, and energized by the possibilities for reward that surround them. Hence, they talk less, are less driven, and experience less enthusiasm. They may also find levels of stimulation that are rewarding and energizing for someone high in Extraversion merely annoying or tiring (or even overwhelming, depending on their level of Neuroticism)“, according to Scientific American.
CURIOUS FACT: Are you still having trouble deciding where you fit? Sometimes people can exhibit characteristics which are not ‘typical’ of their type.
NONE OF THE ABOVE.
Melissa and I both have always felt like we are definite introverts; however most of people around us are certain of our extroversion. She calls this phenomena Enthusiastic Introverted Type. Therefore Melissa believes that it doesn’t really matter if we are introverted or extroverted as we tend to adjust to context. In saying that, I must ad that, knowing yourself allows you to adapt easier and fitter. If we are aware of what our strengths and weaknesses are whether it is our personality traits, experiences or skills, it no doubt makes our existence easier and happier.
THE THIRD TYPE.
However, if you are still not sure which type do you belong to, you in fact could be a representative of ambiversion.
The majority of the population are, in fact, ambiverts. Moreover, ambiverts seem like a grey area in the personality-type world. Our personalities are varying mixtures of introverted and extroverted functions. The majority of us have traits of both [introverted & extroverted] personalities which are contextually driven.
The say, ambiverts are people who don’t really prefer one way of functioning over another. What do you think? Keep the conversion going! Share your observation, opinion and research!
Acknowledgement: Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania – Nutrition & Well being Consultant, Melissa Legovic – Loner Wolf – www.theenglishstudent.com