By Julia Thomas
Updated May 09, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Humanity loves to divide behaviors into binaries, almost like a tribe. One such division is the introverted and extroverted personality types. You probably have heard someone talk about them, and you may know the basic definition of them. You think that an introvert is someone who keeps to themselves, is shy, and has a hard time connecting with people, while the extrovert is talkative and can make friends with pretty much anyone they meet.
However, that is an extreme oversimplification of what these terms mean. In this article, we'll define introvertedness, extrovertedness, show a test, and explain why you should care.
What Is The Introvert Vs. Extrovert Personality?
In the early 20th century, psychologist Carl Jung popularized these two personalities. Here is the basic definition of the two of them.
Extrovert: As you may have assumed, the extroverted personality is one that is talkative. They are usually the optimists who will manage to make friends out of most people. Their behavior is quite assertive, making it easier for them to get what they want. They also enjoy the company of other people. They may feel like their needs aren't being met whenever they are alone. An extroverted person is also the one who thrives in a group project.
Introvert: You may picture an introverted person as one who is shy, but that is a misconception. While some introverts may be shy, most simply prefer their own company rather than be around people. Many introverts can talk to people if needed, but if there's nothing to do on a Saturday night, they may be relieved rather than upset. An introvert may be more reflective on their actions and maybe more involved in the arts than most extroverted people are. Because they prefer to be alone, some introverts don't thrive well in society, but that all depends.
What If I'm Both?
You may believe that this is not a very nuanced way of viewing the world. Some people, well, actually most, have tendencies of both. One may enjoy the company of people but have times where they may want to be alone. Others are reflective but can get out and have a good time with friends. Carl Jung believed that no one truly is a full introvert or extrovert, but instead, the concept is a spectrum.
Ambivert: An ambivert is one who falls in the middle of the scale. Their behavior lands somewhere in the middle of the scale. An ambivert may enjoy the company of people, but an extreme amount may make them anxious. They may be reflective, but not so much they got lost in their thoughts.
There are also people who land somewhere between the three. Someone may mostly keep to themselves, but once in a while enjoy the company.
How To Test for Introvertedness or Extrovertedness
You probably have a general idea if you swing towards being introverted or extroverted, but you might not have an idea how far you swing. If you look up a test to see how introverted or extroverted you are, you're probably going to find plenty to choose from. Some are detailed, while others are quick. Obviously, tests that are longer are going to yield some better results, while the quick ones are okay at a glance into your personality. If you have the time, we would suggest the longer ones.
Of course, an Internet quiz is not going to be the end all to figuring out whether or not you're an introvert or extrovert. It's simply a good glance to finding out if you lean on one side or the other of the spectrum scale. Which means that most of us fall somewhere in the middle
How The Brains Of Introverts And Extroverts Work
There have been different theories as to how the brains of introverts and extroverts are how they are. Hans Eysenck, a psychologist, proposed in the 1960s that introverts and extroverts were stimulated in different ways. Hans looked at the arousal rate of introverts vs. extroverts. He found that extroverts had lower arousal rates. In other words, an extrovert is always talking to people and always finding adventure because they need more to stimulate their minds.
Introverts, as you can imagine, can get aroused much easier. They prefer their bubble, and talking to one person on occasion can be enough to provide stimulation. If they get into crowds or have too much to deal with, they can be overstimulated. This can cause a negative effect on the body instead.
So, was Hans right? As it turns out, introverts and extroverts have two different types of brains, and they respond to stimulation differently. An extrovert will become more stimulated whenever they make a gamble, and it works.
In the end, we all seek dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. Dopamine released gives people rewards. Whenever an extrovert takes a risk, is surprised, or travels, they get that dopamine rush. Meanwhile, an introvert may feel dopamine by sitting around the home.
Also, introverts and extroverts process stimulation differently. Extroverts process their stimulation in the areas where the senses are. So they are stimulated by different senses around them. An introvert may process stimulation through the areas that are associated with problem-solving, so they get more stimulation doing that.
Can You Adapt?
You may wonder if an extroverted person can become more introverted, and vice versa. It all depends. Those who are more moderate on the scale may find it easier to adapt. Meanwhile, an extreme introvert may find it very difficult to talk to people, and it may take years of baby steps before they can be ready to talk to someone. But some introverts can adapt, be it for a job or a friend. However, if you cannot change yourself, there is no shame. Sometimes, you have to deal with the card you're played.
With that said, do try to step out of your comfort zone.
Why It Matters
Being an introvert or an extrovert matters in quite a few ways, and being aware of where you can help you in many situations, including:
Getting To Know People
An introvert and an extrovert who are extreme on the scale can be friends, but it all depends on awareness. Someone who is extroverted should know that an introvert doesn't want company all the time, and not to take it personally if they don't want to hang out. Meanwhile, an introvert can respect someone who talks a lot and will know when they can handle the extrovert.
It's also good for knowing living situations. An introvert and an extrovert can live together. If the extrovert is out and about all the time, this can help the introvert be happy. However, there needs to be respected when it comes to boundaries.
It's all about communication. You and your introverted or extroverted friend need to list out each other's behaviors and realize when there is a boundary being crossed. By doing this, you can be able to stay friends for a long time.
For Your Health
Everyone wants to stay healthy, and one way to live a long, healthy life is to have all your social needs fulfilled. An introvert who is always surrounded by crowds is going to feel stressed, and this could be bad for their health. An extrovert who is all alone may end up wanting to die from the boredom. Knowing your personality type can help you succeed.
When it comes to jobs, you'll want a job that's better suited to your personality. An introvert may enjoy a job where they get to keep to themselves and don't have to talk to coworkers very often. An extrovert may enjoy a career where they get to speak to people or travel. Some people like jobs that challenge who they are. You may find public speakers who are more introverted or extroverts who like a job in isolation. It all depends, and by finding out your personality type, you can be on your way to a career path right for you.
Perhaps the best way to find out if you're introverted or extroverted is to talk to a counselor. You can get a general idea of what you are by taking an internet quiz, but a true professional can give you tests that are more advanced, and they can figure out where you are on the spectrum. Knowing yourself can help you live a better life.
Plus, if you want to be more extroverted or introverted, a counselor can help you to do so. You can learn techniques to adapt to people or learn how to be more self-reflecting.
Of course, some may not be able to change their personalities, and that's okay too. You can learn how to live with what you have and be successful. A counselor can also help you with your strengths, too. Talk to one today and see where you lie.