Defining Extroversion: What Does It Mean To Be An Extrovert?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated June 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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Do you find it easy to approach strangers? Do you love being the center of attention? Do you find you enjoy life more when surrounded by others? If you've said yes to all these questions, you may align with the personality type of an extrovert. While many people describe themselves as either an “extrovert” or an “introvert,” most may fall somewhere in between the two sides of the spectrum. Understanding the general characteristics of your personality type can help you build a life in congruence with your natural tendencies, which may promote a higher overall quality of life. For further insights into your personality, it can be helpful to speak with a licensed therapist.

What is an extrovert?

An extrovert is generally categorized as someone who thrives in social situations. They may be known as the “life of the party,” generally finding it easy to express themselves and seek out social stimulation. 

In many cases, an extrovert can be very positive, cheerful, and outgoing. They may feel more comfortable in big groups and may not be afraid to introduce themselves to new people. Because of this, they usually find it easy to make friends. 

Generally, extroverts gain their energy from external sources, such as relationships and social interactions. They are viewed by many as the direct opposite of those who align with the introverted personality type. 

General traits of extroverts

While every extrovert can be different, there are a handful of common traits to look out for to determine whether you may be aligned with extroversion. If you find that most of these traits on this list describe you, then you may be considered an extrovert.

  • Cheerful demeanor
  • Talkative and sociable
  • Outgoing and bubbly
  • Not afraid to assert yourself
  • Willing to approach strangers
  • Can easily express yourself
  • Enjoy being the center of attention
  • Feel comfortable speaking your mind
  • Remain adaptable in any situation
  • Prefer “doing” to “thinking”

What is an introvert?

Introverts tend to keep to themselves, are generally seen as more reserved, and can be more likely to turn down an invitation to a social gathering or event. Introverts aren't necessarily shy or intimidated by social interactions; they may simply need more time on their own to rest and recharge. Instead of constantly needing stimulation from others, they are usually happiest when immersed in their own thoughts and feelings.

Introverts are typically quieter and more introspective, and they often feel mentally and physically tired after a lot of social stimulation. Despite the tendencies an introvert may have to remain reserved, they often have a small but close group of friends with whom they can be more outgoing. These relationships can be deeper than the relationships formed by the extrovert's large group of friends, as introverts frequently prefer to get to know someone one-on-one rather than interact with people in a group setting.

In many cases, introverts gain their energy from internal sources and often feel drained when faced with too much social stimulation.

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General traits of introverts

Now, we’ll explore typical traits of introverts to help you understand where you might fall between the two personality types. 

  • Often deep in thought
  • Empathize with others easily
  • Reluctant to seek out social stimulation
  • Quiet and reserved in large groups 
  • Tend to think before speaking
  • Selective about friend groups
  • Have trouble expressing yourself in front of a group
  • More open and social around people you know well
  • Prefer to observe rather than participate

Can extraversion change over time?

Extroversion is considered by many to be a personality type of its own, although it may not remain the same over a person's entire lifetime. Those who were extroverted as children may find that they become more introverted as an adult, and vice versa. As humans, we are all generally changing and growing, often fluctuating on the spectrum of personality types and preferences depending on the situations we encounter.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an extrovert?

Extroverts typically have a more positive outlook on life than other personality types, don't tend to dwell on negative feedback from others, and may appear to be more adaptable to any situation. 

Because of their outgoing nature, they usually find it easy to make friends and advance quickly in their careers through networking. Since many extroverts can make friends easily, they may have a larger support group to rally behind them when going through life’s challenges — and since they may be constantly looking for new stimulation, they may be viewed as innovative forward-thinkers.

Conversely, extroverts tend to be more trusting of others, which may put them in sticky situations if faced with the wrong people. They can be seen as fast-moving in social situations, potentially spreading themselves so thin that they may not make many deep connections with people.

Introversion vs. extraversion: Which is better?

Neither introversion nor extroversion may be better than the other. Both personality types tend to have their own valuable personality traits and characteristics. 

In addition, it can be important to note that there is generally a spectrum ranging from introversion to extroversion, and most people fall somewhere in the middle rather than being fully introverted or fully extroverted. This can mean that you may relate to some of the “typical” traits of an introvert or extrovert, but not all of them. 

Each person’s personality can be completely unique, and there’s generally no need to try to box yourself into a personality type or apply a specific label. For some, it may be fun or helpful to consider their personality in terms of introversion or extroversion, but this can be a case in which you may take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind.

Extraversion doesn’t define who you are

There can be a lot more to being human than our personality types. As you go through this process, consider honoring this and learning to listen to your body and its needs, no matter what side of the spectrum you feel most aligned with. If you find it difficult to strike this balance, therapy can be a helpful tool to help you remain as comfortable and confident as possible. 

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Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy can be a helpful tool to leverage as you walk through the process of self-discovery and identity definition. Those who align with the introverted personality type or lack confidence may not feel ready to consider discussing these topics in an in-person therapeutic setting. Online therapy can offer similar assistance and support from one’s smart device in any setting they feel comfortable in, potentially eliminating this barrier to treatment. 

Effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy has been scientifically suggested to be helpful for those feeling unsure or insecure in their identities. Specifically, those who are introverted or living with depression may benefit from this form of treatment, which is typically as effective as in-person therapy, according to a 2016 study. 

Takeaway

Understanding the characteristics of both the extroverted and introverted personality types can help individuals feel confident in self-identification and exploration. Extroverts are generally more outgoing and find energy in social situations, whereas introverts may prefer alone time, although they are not necessarily shy or scared of social situations. If you’re looking for additional insight into your personality, working with a therapist online or in person can offer you professional guidance. 
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