Let’s say you’re invited to a party.

No special occasion; just a regular house party. You’ll know a good amount of people there, but they’re mostly just acquaintances. No one will be upset with you for being a no-show, but they’d appreciate your being there, nonetheless. The question now is whether you accept or decline that invitation. Your answer, whether it be “yes”, “no”, or “I don’t know”, can give you a place on the frequently referenced introvert-extrovert scale.

introvert-vs-extrovert

The words “introvert” and “extrovert” are often used, but they may be hard to define. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines introversion as “the state or tendency of being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”. Conversely, it defines extroversion as “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. Famous psychologist Carl Jung agreed with this definition, believing himself that introversion is the state of being inwardly concerned, whereas extroversion is the state of being outwardly concerned.

Of course, because reality isn’t as black and white as theory, no one is just one or the other. Hence the aforementioned “scale”. However, most people have an inclination to either side, whether that inclination be strong or almost non-existent. You can make an educated decision on which side you lean toward through hypothetical scenarios, looking at clear definitions, or- wait for it- brain science.

brain

Put simply, extroverts react differently to stimuli than introverts. Psychologist Hans Eysenck believed that extroverts are naturally under-stimulated, which could very well be the reason behind their tendency to take risks, and would also explain why they gain energy from social interaction. Eysenck also believed that the opposite is true for introverts: they’re very easily stimulated, so they require alone time to remain at peace. Too much contact from the outside world, specifically human contact, could result in exhaustion, or a mental imbalance.

introvert

Additionally, a study in 2012, completed by Harvard University’s Randy Buckner, suggested introverts tend to have thicker nerve tissue in their prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that deals with decision-making and abstract thought. This is another possible reason for introverts’ thought-oriented mannerisms. It also implies that extroverts would lack nerve tissue in that same area, which could be why they tend to live in the moment, rather than thinking things through.

Here are some situations to help you determine whether you’re more of an introvert or extrovert:

Introvert

  1. Introverts prefer to spend time alone when in a group of people.
  2. Introverts prefer solitary activities such as reading or writing or staying home.
  3. Introverts don’t like the party scenes. Feel free to add to this list.

Alternatively, you can take our Introvert or Extrovert Quiz here to find out: https://www.psych2go.net/are-you-an-ambivert/.

There are 10 questions only and the result is presented at the end.

Now that we’ve delved a bit into the meaning of being an introvert/extrovert, you should have just enough information to decide which side you fall on. So, what do you think? Would you say you’re more outwardly focused and stimulation-hungry, like an extrovert? Or do you lean more on the thoughtful side, content with less socialization, like an introvert? Or do you think you fall exactly in the center of the scale, flipping back and forth between the two frequently, as an ambivert would?

Whatever you identify as, remember that neither side is better than the other, and that this label doesn’t define your entire personality. It simply helps you understand yourself better, and- really- who doesn’t want a better idea of who they are?

For more on introversion, go here.

For more on extroversion, check this out.

We release a new article on the topic of introvert every Sunday. If you’re interested, feel free to add yourself to our email list here: http://eepurl.com/cvwN45

Also, we have a video on 21 signs you might be an ambivert (another term for someone who doesn’t doesn’t identify as either introverted or extroverted) here:


Sources

Introversion. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/introversion

Extroversion. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extroversion

Frager, R., & Fadiman, J. (n.d.). Transpersonal Pioneers: Carl Jung. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.sofia.edu/about/history/transpersonal-pioneers-carl-jung/

Bushak, L. 2014, August 21. The Brain Of An Introvert Compared To That Of An Extrovert: Are They Really Different? Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.medicaldaily.com/brain-introvert-compared-extrovert-are-they-really-different-299064

Holmes, A., Lee, P., Hollinshead, M., Bakst, L., Roffman, J., Smoller, J., Buckner, R. 2012, May 24. Individual Differences in Amygdala-Medial Prefrontal Anatomy Link Negative Affect, Impaired Social Functioning, and Polygenic Depression Risk. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(50):18087-18100. Abstract retrieved from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/50/18087.short

[Untitled Digital Image]. Retrieved June 23, 2015 from http://www.fakulteti.mk/news/12-06-30/ubavinite_na_zrze_-_selo_vo_pregratkite_na_dautica.aspx

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My interests lie in the psychology behind personalities and relationships; I hope to provide readers with the information needed to sufficiently understand themselves and others. You can contact me at julimpope@yahoo.com.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Articles about introverts and extroverts are always interesting to me. Probably because I’m more likely to be a ambivert? Though, it is hard for me to really figure out, because I’m Autistic. Being around a lot of people (that I don’t know (well) or only seen once or twice) is very tiring for me because I get overstimulated, but this is mainly because of my Autism, while it is also a introvert trait. I can’t sit still for a longer period of time without doing anything, which is most likely to blame on my ADHD, while it is also a extrovert trait. I could go on and on, but I won’t ;p

    What I’d like to see is an article maybe on Autism and intro- and extroversion, because it all has to do with stimuli and the processing of info and stimuli in the brain.

  2. I really enjoyed how you went about writing this article. You delved into both sides objectively without insulting the other and was clear about how these are neither faults or plusses-they just are. It’s simply how some people are and there is nothing wrong with that. I really liked how detailed the explanation was as well, too many times people simply skim them over and bang on about extraversion without explaining what introversion really means. It was truly refreshing to read an article saying how it’s more than being shy-and I really did like the bit about stimuli, I never heard that theory before but now that I think about it it makes a lot of sense. People who are introverted are more sensitive to external stimuli while people who are extraverted are less sensitive to external stimuli.
    I hope there is more research about this and I hope that society as a whole will be more open to changing (I know, high hopes) and adapting to introversion more. Often I wonder why our society is more accepting of extraversion, I mean, it’s probably something simple like extraverts are more open so they tend to dominate more than introverts, but it would be nice to have a balance in the world wouldn’t it?

  3. The author did a great job of tackling this topic through a multimedia approach. Many of the diagrams that were included help to demonstrate the ideas that were being discussed and helped to further illustrate the point. One thing that I loved is how the author discussed how introvert and extroverts exist on a scale, which is something that most people to do not recognize. This is something I learned when I realized I didn’t necessarily fall into either category of introvert or extrovert but was a mix of the two. This article was very insightful and well researched making it a great read!

  4. Good article! It seems that there is always more conversation on extroversion/introversion than ambiversion. It’s great that there was an inclusion of ambiverts as well. In your opinion, where would ambiverts fit? For example, introverts are known to be behinds the scenes more, and extroverts are usually delving into different social aspects. Where do you find an ambivert would fit into, best?

  5. some things don’t matter or matter to introvert and extrovert. its a big deal to tackle of psycho social interaction. we don’t know each others personalities even our friends and families. not all are introvert just because they’re blood related or extrovert. this topic needs of a more understanding towards our mental personalities and this is a great help and discoveries to what is meant by introversion.

  6. I really like how you included yhe spectrum since not many people knew you can identify as in between. A lot of people only think they are either introverted or extroverted. This article also includes many interesting facts about intoverts and extroverts that I have never learned about. I enjoyed this article a lot.

  7. Great article. I really like the open-mindedness of the representational ideas regarding both introverted and extroverted personality types. It’s very nice to know that there are people out there who understand that there does not have to be – and there usually isn’t – a set way of making decisions based on personality type; you can have traits of both introversion and extroversion, you can lean more to one side than the other, or you don’t even have to identify as either. People need to know that this is more than just a black-and-white concept. The definitions provided by Merriam-Webster are also great. A lot of definitions I read on introverts are that they have the tendency of being “shy,” which is usually not the case; it goes so much deeper than that.

  8. Hmmm, I’m not sure which spectrum I fall under. There are times in my life when I feel more like an introvert like in highschool but I felt more of an extrovert in college. It also changed when I started working wherein I’m neither intro or extro. I guess for me, it changes.

  9. Very insightful. Well organized and the writing had a clear linear flow of organized thought. I think one of my favorite sayings that best sums up the using of the ambiversion scale model is ” It doesn’t matter which half the brain or which side of the scale you think you lean towards, your brain is two halves to one whole and unique you!”

  10. Somehow, a single person is not just solely introverted or extroverted. They may have inclinations but another deciding factor is the group of people they are interacting with. When an introvert interacts with his/her close friends, they tend to be more expressive. Its just my opinion.

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