I was at a workshop recently, and the topic of introverts and extroverts emerged. I commented about my own introverted nature, and was met by surprise. Apparently I didn’t fit the image of an introvert that my new friends had in their minds.
Plenty of people in the United States are introverts. The figures vary, but currently it’s generally accepted that about half of the US population are introverted.
The term introvert was first introduced by Carl Jung. And interestingly, the notion of introversion and extroversion is not a matter of being completely one or the other. Personality types, like introversion and extroversion, are on a continuum, and all people have a mixture of both in their personalities.
In this article, I use the term “introvert” to describe someone who interacts with the world mostly in an introverted fashion, rather than an extroverted one, and vice versa for extroverts.
The definition of what extroversion and introversion mean is based upon on how an individual sees and reacts to events, objects, or people. Introverts spend a great deal of time monitoring how things impact their inner world. An outside event (or person or object) is described and examined in regards to how it affects them and their history, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. For example, if an introvert is watching kids play, they may be reminded of themselves when they were little, imagining how care free they felt. An extrovert might comment on how crazy kids dress these days.
In a similar way, introverts gain energy by focusing inward. After spending time around a group of people, introverts feel tired and depleted. It takes effort for them to socialize, and in order to feel more energized they may pull away from the outside world and spend time by themselves. Extroverts find spending time with groups of people or activities to be energizing, and solitude is taxing.
Many people, both extroverts and introverts, carry misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Here are four commonly held beliefs that are not accurate.
For the most part, personality traits like introversion and extroversion are stable over a person’s lifetime. People are able to adapt to their environment, and introverts can succeed at many different professions as long as they attend to their needs for replenishing their inner energy.
Understanding where your personality lies on the introvert/extrovert spectrum can be helpful in identifying ways to manage stress and improve relationships. It can also be a fascinating study of how you interact with the world.
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Best of Our Blogs: October 23, 2012 | World of Psychology (October 23, 2012)
Last reviewed: 20 Oct 2012