The Psychology of Introversion, Extraversion and everything in between.
Whenever the topic of introverts and extroverts come up, a word is put in between them that is actually misleading.
When we think of these topics, we pit the concepts against each other, categorizing individuals as being one or the other.
And yet more and more people will vehemently shout that they are “a little of both” or within some kind of gray area. If the two concepts are so dissimilar, then why do so many people feel this way?
What does it mean to be extroverted or introverted?
First, let’s accurately define our terms. The ideas of “Extraversion” and “Introversion” were popularized by Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology. He’s probably most famous for developing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is still being used as a psychological assessment tool today.
Introverts, on the other hand, favor the internal. They prefer to be alone and need to process their thoughts and feelings in a solitary fashion. An introvert isn’t necessarily shy, but they are more likely to be overwhelmed by group activity.
These are clearly two separate extremes, but people like straddle the fence, so to speak, when they are asked to pick a side. “I’m a little of both,” some people say. But how can you be the both of two extremes at the same time?
First, it’s difficult to be one or the other all of the time. Our behaviors fluctuate continuously, and some people go back and forth between introversion and extraversion many times in their life. This makes it difficult, then, for them to categorize themselves.
Additionally, we misunderstand how the two concepts actually relate to each other for each person. We automatically assume that the concepts lie on a continuum, so being high in extraversion must mean that we are lower in introversion.
But if extraversion and introversion really do lie on a continuum, then that means it’s completely possible for us to lie closer to the middle, which means some people can have both an introverted and extroverted personality.
Since behaviors fluctuate all of the time, this also means that we can go up and down the continuum many times in our lives, depending on life situations and certain environments we come in contact with.
There’s actually a name for this by the way. The “middle” name for people who are both introverted and extroverted is Ambiversion. An ambivert lies in the middle of the introversion-extraversion spectrum. They find just as much satisfaction from external activities as they do from internal ones.
Why does this matter?
At this point, you may be wondering why so many people find it important to categorize themselves as introverted, extroverted or ambiverted. For most people, it’s essential for us to better understand what we’re not.
In relationships of all types, we are bound to approach people who are very different from us. You’ve probably noticed this. Though you may have a thorough understanding of your own temperament and social preferences, it can be difficult to empathize or even compromise with someone who is different.
For example: if you are an extrovert, you may love the idea of a surprise party. Who wouldn’t love the idea of having all of their friends around them suddenly, you may think. But the person you are dating may not think so. To them, the idea of a surprise party may absolutely terrify them.
Simply put, understanding introversion, extraversion and how they relate helps us understand people. Even better, it also helps us understand ourselves and what truly makes us happy.
So, the real question is: Are you introverted, extroverted or both?