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Are You An Introvert or An Extravert?

If you haven’t noticed, people are talking a lot about introversion and extraversion.  At least on social media!  Many shy people automatically assume that they are introverts, while those of us who love being around people claim extraversion immediately.  The truth is that some of us aren’t sure which we are and some of us have laid claim to a personality type that doesn’t truly belong to us.  I hope to clear up any introvert/extravert confusion you may have in this post.

No One Is Completely Introverted or Extraverted

When many people think of introverts and extraverts they picture two dichotomous types of people.  Extraverts are considered to be loud, fun-loving, even gregarious.  Introverts are typed as shy, wall-flowers with whom you might not imagine having much fun.

In reality there are introverts who aren’t a bit shy, extraverts who are quiet, introverts who love the time they spend around others and extraverts who aren’t interested in being the life of the party!  So, when you’re taking a personality test or trying to decide which type you are, remember that we all exhibit some characteristics of both.

What Does it Really Mean to Be Introverted or Extraverted?

Jung described extraversion and introversion as “attitude types”.  An attitude type refers to the type of energy with which a person goes about life.  Introversion doesn’t merely mean shy and extroversion doesn’t always mean “life of the party”.

Extraverts are oriented toward outward stimulation.  They enjoy talking to other people, using others as a sounding board.  They are energized by time spent with other people.

According to the MBTI manual: Persons habitually taking the Extraverted attitude may develop some or all of the characteristics associated with Extraversion:  awareness of and reliance on the environment for stimulation and guidance; an eagerness to interact with the outer world; an action-oriented, sometimes impulsive way of meeting life; openness to new experiences; ease of communication and sociability; and a desire to “talk things out”.

Introverts are more inwardly focused.  Some introverts are shy (as are some extraverts), but introversion is not synonymous with shyness.  Introverts are more oriented toward inward stimulation and may become tired with too much socialization or outward stimulation.

According to the MBTI manual:  Persons habitually taking the Introverted attitude may develop some or all of the characteristics associated with Introversion:  interest in the clarity of concepts, ideas, and recollected experience; reliance on enduring concepts and experiences more than on transitory external events or fleeting ideas; a thoughtful, contemplative detachment; an enjoyment of solitude and privacy; and a desire to “think things out” before talking about them.

I am an introvert.  It is the most strongly expressed function of the four Myers-Briggs functions for me.  It manifests in a fairly stereotypical way in my personality.

I more comfortable with the written word rather than the spoken word.  I need time to process what I think before I’m ready to share it with others.  I need time alone to reflect on experiences.

It is difficult for me spend extended amounts of time with groups of other people.  Think holidays and family reunions.  They are exhausting to me.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy other people.  I do, but instead of energizing me, my time with people (no matter how well worth it was to me to spend that time) drains me.

In a roommate situation I’d not be the one asking, ‘Where are we going tonight?”.  No, I’d be one asking, “Don’t you have plans?”

How to Determine if You are an Introvert or an Extravert

The easiest way to tell if you’re an introvert or extravert is to notice how you feel after you’ve spent prolonged time with others.  Are you tired, drained and excited for quiet time?  Or, do you continue to feel ramped up and energized, wishing the time with others could go on forever?

An introvert will naturally want to bring time with others to a close, often long before the more extraverted members of the group are ready to part ways.  An extravert will be the last man standing at a party, not wanting the fun to end.

Still not sure?  Take the test here!

Read all of the posts in the MBTI series.

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