Most people search on the internet about introvert and extrovert because everyone wants to know the difference between introversion and extroversion personality traits. You have been observing human personalities for nearly as long as you have been alive. You notice that some people are talkative and outgoing; others are quiet and reserved. You may have even labeled such people as introverts and extroverts.
Are these labels accurate? Is one extroverted person like another? Does an extrovert always act in a talkative, outgoing manner? Can all people be classified as either introverts or extroverts?
The famous psychologist Carl Jung’s own theory of personality. Jung (1921/1971) defined an attitude as a predisposition to act or react in a characteristic direction. He insisted that each person has both attitudes extroverted and introverted.
The first attitude ( extrovert) mostly in keeping to the objective world and second attitude (introvert) directed inward toward his subjective world. Introversion and extraversion serve in a compensatory relationship to one another.
Introvert and Extrovert Meaning
Extraverts are very sociable people who also tend to be optimistic, assertive friendly, and, energetic. Extravert is “outgoing, uninhibited, and impulsive, having many social contacts and frequently taking part in group activities. The typical extravert is sociable, likes parties, has many friends, needs to have people to talk to, and does not like reading or studying by himself” (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1968, p. 6).
An introvert is “a quiet, retiring sort of person, introspective, fond of books rather than people; he is reserved and distant except to intimate friends”. Of course, most people fall somewhere between these two extremes, but each of us is perhaps a little more one than the other. Introverts do not typically express these characteristics, but it would be incorrect to say that they are asocial or without energy. As one team of researchers explained, “Introverts are reserved rather than unfriendly, independent rather than followers, even-paced rather than sluggish” (Costa & McCrae, 1992, p. 15).
Carl Jung life
Carl Jung, during his early school years, Jung was mostly introverted, but when the time came to prepare for a profession and meet other objective responsibilities, he became more extraverted, an attitude that prevailed until he experienced a midlife crisis and entered a period of extreme introversion.
As Jung came to recognize that there were different kinds of introverts and extroverts, he proposed additional distinctions among people based on what he called the psychological functions. These functions refer to different and opposing ways of perceiving or apprehending both the external real world and our subjective inner world.
Jung posited four functions of the psyche; forming eight possible orientations, or types. The four functions—sensing, thinking, feeling, and intuiting—can be briefly defined as follows: Sensing tells people that something exists; thinking enables them to recognize its meaning; feeling tells them its value or worth, and intuition allows them to know about it without knowing how they know.
Examples of the Eight Jungian Types
Extraverted thinking: Objective, Dogmatic, Logical,
Profession: Research scientists, accountants, mathematicians
Extraverted feeling: Sensitive, Emotional, Sociable; more typical of women than men
Profession: Real estate appraisers, objective movie critics
Extraverted sensing: Pleasure-seeking Outgoing, pleasure-seeking, adaptable
Profession: Wine tasters, proofreaders, popular musicians, house painters
Extraverted intuiting: Creative, able to motivate others and to seize opportunities
Profession: Some inventors, religious reformers
Introverted thinking: More interested in ideas than in people
Profession: Philosophers, theoretical scientists, some inventors
Introverted feeling: Reserved, undemonstrative, yet capable of deep emotion
Profession: Subjective movie critics, art appraisers
Introverted sensing: Outwardly detached, expressing themselves in aesthetic pursuits
Profession: Artists, classical musicians
Introverted intuition: More concerned with the unconscious than with everyday reality
Profession: Prophets, mystics, religious fanatics
RESEARCHES BASED ON INTROVERT AND EXTROVERT PERSONALITY TRAITS
Open Room and Isolate
Your choice in this situation depends in part on whether you are an extravert or an introvert. One team of researchers demonstrated this phenomenon when they asked students studying in the two kinds of library rooms just described to complete the Eysenck Personality Inventory (Campbell, 1983; Campbell & Hawley, 1982).
Students in the noisy, open room were more likely to be extraverts, whereas the ones in the isolated, quiet room were more likely to be introverts. Those in the noisy room said they preferred the amount of noise and the opportunities for socializing.
The others said they chose the quiet room to get away from these distractions. These findings are entirely consistent with the theorists’ descriptions of extraversion-introversion. Introverted students are more sensitive to stimulation. Thus an introvert in a noisy room is probably so disturbed by all the activities that he or she will have a difficult time studying.
On the other hand, the understimulated extravert probably finds the quiet room boring. Unless the study material is particularly exciting, the extravert will probably take a number of breaks, look around for distractors, and generally have a difficult time keeping his or her mind on the task.
This difference in preferred stimulation level also is found in more controlled laboratory experiments (Geen, 1983). For example, extraverts more quickly press a button to change slides on a visual learning task, presumably because they become bored more quickly with the pictures and designs (Brebner& Cooper, 1978).
One team of researchers found that extraverts, but not introverts, showed a sudden drop in their ability to perform a listening exercise when the task was suddenly made less challenging by slowing down the pace (Cox-Fuenzalida, Angie, Holloway, & Sohl, 2006).
In another study, introverts and extroverts worked on a word-memory task while listening to noise through earphones (Geen, 1984). When given the opportunity, introverted participants set their earphones at considerably lower levels than did extraverts. However, some introverts in this study were forced to listen to loud noise and some extraverts were restricted to a soft noise.
Consistent with Eysenck’s model, the introverts did worse when exposed to higher levels of stimulation, whereas the extraverts performed worse when listening to the softer noise.
This last finding helps to explain why some students can study only with music or a TV blaring, whereas other students have to find a quiet library room and then stuff pieces of foam into their ears to block out any remaining noise. Too much stimulation makes it difficult to concentrate, and even extraverts can reach a point when they have to turn their radios down.
But for introverts, this point comes much earlier. Of course, the other side of the coin is that too little stimulation also interferes with performance. Whereas it may take hours of solitude to bring an introvert to this point, a few minutes in quiet isolation might be tough on a high extravert.
Extraversion and Happiness
Clearly, extraverts and introverts lead different lives. We are more apt to find extraverts at parties, visiting friends, going places, and generally being active. Introverts are more likely to spend time alone, engaging in quiet, low stimulation tasks. Who do you suppose is happier? Not surprisingly, I usually find introverts guess introverts are happier people, whereas extraverts can’t imagine how anyone could lead a life as boring as the introverted style.
Although introverts may have difficulty understanding this at first, researchers found that on average extraverts report higher levels of happiness than introverts (DeNeve, 1999; DeNeve & Cooper, 1998; Lucas & Baird, 2004; Lucas, Le, Dyrenforth, 2008).
In short, extraverts generally experience more happiness than introverts. But why might this be the case? Researchers have uncovered at least two reasons. First, extraverts tend to socialize more than introverts (Srivastava, Angelo, & Vallereux, 2008). Extraverts have more friends, and they interact with those friends more often.
Researchers have repeatedly found that social contact is closely tied to feelings of well-being (Diener, 1984). Interacting with friends is usually pleasant, as are other extraverted behaviors, such as going to dances, parties, and football games. Many basic needs, such as feeling competent and worthwhile, are also satisfied in social settings.
In addition, friends often serve as a buffer against stress (Cohen & Wills, 1985). That is, people usually cope with their problems better with friends’ help than when they try to handle the situation alone. Consistent with this observation, one study found that extraverts were more likely than introverts to seek out friends when they had a problem (Amirkhan, Risinger, & Swickert, 1995).
Extraversion and introversion profession choices
Other research focusing on academics shows that occupational interests among college students are related in many instances to the Jungian typology. For example, introverts have strong interests in mathematics, computer programming, library science, chemistry, and engineering, whereas extraverts gravitate toward sales, public relations, acting, and restaurant and hotel management.
Students who are primarily intuitive show strong interests in becoming musicians, psychologists, artists, writers, and photographers, whereas sensing types lean toward food-service work, police and detective work, and craftwork. Feeling types are more interested in becoming preschool teachers, nurses, and priests. Thinking types prefer law, dentistry, and medicine (Myers & McCaulley, 1985, pp. 244–248; Sandow, Jones, & Moody, 2000, p. 32).
Biological and Genetic difference
According to Eysenck (1982), however, the principal differences between introversion and extroversion are not behavioral, but rather biological and genetic in nature.
Eysenck (1997a) believed that the primary cause of both people is one of the cortical arousal levels, a physiological condition that is largely inherited rather than learned. Because extraverts have a lower level of cortical arousal than do introverts, they have higher sensory thresholds and thus lesser reactions to sensory stimulation.
Introverts, conversely, are characterized by a higher level of arousal, and as a result of a lower sensory threshold. They experience greater reactions to sensory stimulation. To maintain an optimal level of stimulation, introverts, with their congenitally low sensory threshold, avoid situations that will cause too much excitement. Hence, introverts shun such activities as wild social events, downhill skiing, skydiving, competitive sports, leading a fraternity or sorority, or playing practical jokes.
Conversely, because extraverts have a habitually low level of cortical arousal, they need a high level of sensory stimulation to maintain an optimal level of stimulation. Therefore, extraverts participate more often in exciting and stimulating activities. They may enjoy such activities as mountain climbing, gambling, driving fast cars, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana.
In addition, Eysenck (1976) hypothesized that extraverts, as opposed to introverts, will engage in sexual intercourse earlier, more frequently, with a wider range of partners, in a greater number of positions, with a larger variety of sexual behaviors, and will indulge in longer precoital love play.
Because extraverts have a lower level of cortical arousal, however, they become more quickly accustomed to strong stimuli (sexual or otherwise) and respond less and less to the same stimuli, whereas introverts are less likely to become bored and uninterested in routine activities carried on with the same people.
In an important study conducted by Russell Geen (1984), introverted and extraverted participants were randomly assigned to either low noise or high noise conditions and then given a relatively simple cognitive task to perform. Results showed that introverts outperformed extraverts under conditions of low noise, whereas extraverts outperformed introverts under conditions of high noise.
These findings not only support Eysenck’s theory but also suggest that people who prefer to study in public places (like a dorm study area) are more likely to be extraverts. Introverts, on the other hand, find such noisy environments distracting and therefore tend to avoid them.
A Biological Basis for Personality
Eysenck (1990) pointed to three arguments when making the case that individual differences in personality are based on biology.
First, he noted the consistency of extraversion–introversion over time. Participants in one study found scores on measures of extraversion–introversion remained fairly consistent over a span of 45 years (Conley, 1984, 1985).
Second, Eysenck pointed to the results of cross-cultural research. He argued that researchers find the same three dimensions of personality— extraversion–introversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism—in research conducted in many different countries with different cultural backgrounds and histories (Barrett & Eysenck, 1984; Lynn & Martin, 1995). Eysenck reasoned that this cross-cultural consistency would be highly improbable if biological factors were not largely responsible for personality.
Third, Eysenck pointed to the results of several studies indicating that genetics plays an important role in determining a person’s level of each of the three personality dimensions.
Members of a family not only share genes, but they also share living environments as well. Siblings’ personalities may be similar because the parents raised them in the same basic manner. Children of introverted parents might become introverted because of the calm and quiet home they grow up in the family.
The Heritability of Extraversion
If you are an introvert, it’s likely you’ve been given some of the following pieces of advice: “You need to get out more often,” “Why can’t you be more sociable?” or “Loosen up and enjoy yourself a little.” Extraverts have probably heard some of these: “There’s more to life than having fun all the time,” “Can’t you think a little before you do something?” or “Slow down and enjoy life.”
In short, whether you are introverted or extraverted, someone has probably asked you to become more of the other. Even the most extreme extravert can sit still for a few minutes, and the most introverted person you know occasionally cuts loose and has a good time with friends. But is it possible for an extravert to become permanently more introverted? Can you raise your child to be less introverted or more extraverted?
The answer to these questions depends on what causes a person to become an extravert or an introvert. Eysenck championed the role of genetics in answering this question. The exact nature of the physiological differences between introverts and extroverts is still being investigated.
Nonetheless, these inherited differences are said to remain fairly constant throughout one’s life and eventually develop into the adult behavior styles of extraversion or introversion. Although little evidence for heritability was available when Eysenck first introduced his theory of personality, today an impressive body of work appears to support Eysenck on this point.
The researcher says how introverted or extraverted you are probably is strongly influenced by the set of genes you inherited. This is not to say that you can’t be more outgoing at times if you are highly introverted or learn to stop and introspect for a few minutes if you’re an extravert. How often you act in either of these styles, however, was probably determined largely by the genetic hand you were dealt with many years ago.
Introvert and Extrovert helping behavior
James Amirkhan and Rhonda Risinger in 1995 showed that extraverts, as compared to introverts, were more likely to ask for help when confronted by a problem. In this study, participants were given an unsolvable task to perform and were told that if they needed help with the task an assistant would be stationed outside of the room.
They were also informed that they would not be penalized for seeking out assistance. Results from this study showed that extraverts sought help from the assistant much more quickly than did introverts. In short, an extravert’s pattern of responding to problems or stressors is oriented much more toward seeking support from others than is that of the introvert.
Perhaps one explanation as to why Extraversion is closely associated with the coping strategy of seeking social support is that it also shares a strong relationship with the perceived availability of social support. When participants are asked to report their perception of the social support available to them, extraverts, as compared with introverts, are more likely to perceive greater levels of social support.
Risk and safety
The personality dimensions of Introversion-Extraversion, originally defined by Eysenck (1947), have been investigated in relation to risk and safety more than any other personality trait (Hansen 1988). Introversion has been defined as a ‘person’s preference for attending to this inner world of experience, with an emphasis on reflective, introspective thinking’ (Morris 1979, p. 6).
Extraversion has been defined as the ‘preference for attending to the outer world of objective events with an emphasis upon active involvement in the environment’ (Morris 1979, p. 6). Research finds extraverts having higher accident rates than introverts (Hansen 1988). Introverts value being in control of their experiences and tend to be more careful when doing things than extraverts (Hansen 1988).
Social anxiety and shyness
It also is important to recognize that social anxiety is not the same as introversion.
Whereas introverts often choose to be by themselves, the vast majority of socially anxious people do not like their shyness. Nearly two-thirds of the socially anxious people in one study identified their shyness as “a real problem,” and one-quarter of the shy participants said they would be willing to seek professional help to overcome their social anxiety (Pilkonis, 1977a).
As noted earlier, shy people are not introverts. Rather, most would like to have a larger network of friends than they do. In particular, shy people often say that they would like more people they could turn to when they need help. Unfortunately, their shyness can keep them from developing more friends or asking the friends they have for help when they are in need.
A classic study comparing the personalities of Chinese college students in Hong Kong with Chinese students in Canada. Those living in Hong Kong, an Eastern culture, were more introverted than those living in Canada, a Western culture, a finding that supports earlier research showing that Eastern societies, in general, are more introverted than Western societies.
In the same study, recent Chinese immigrants to Canada demonstrated a similarly low level of introversion as the Hong Kong Chinese. However, Chinese immigrants who had lived in Canada at least 10 years, and thus had greater exposure to Western culture, scored significantly higher in extraversion than did more recent immigrants or the Hong Kong research participants. In this instance, cultural forces had exerted an impact on this basic personality characteristic (McCrae, Yi, Trapnell, Bond, & Paulhus, 1998).
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