Introversion is a personality trait. Introverted people tend to be more focused on internal feelings. They are usually quiet, reserved, and reflective.
Introversion and extroversion exist on opposite ends of a spectrum. Although some introverts enjoy being alone as often as possible, others like the occasional social gathering. Some introverts may also feel the need to “recharge” after socializing by spending time alone.
This article explains introversion, outlines the essential differences between extroversion and introversion, and provides information on identifying whether or not someone is an introvert.
The terms “introvert” and “extrovert” originate from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), introverts tend toward their inner self, thoughts, and feelings. They are typically more withdrawn, reserved, and quiet, and they usually prefer to work alone.
They are very different from extroverts, who tend to be outgoing, sociable, and expressive individuals. Extroverts tend to seek social interaction and like being around other people.
Introverts obtain their energy from within, while extroverts prefer active involvement in events and activities involving other people.
Highly stimulating situations with lots of social interaction are draining for introverts, while these types of encounters tend to fuel extroverts.
Extroverts usually enjoy being with others and have outgoing personalities. They are comfortable in group settings and tend to have a large social circle. Unlike introverts, they gain energy from social situations.
A 2007 study suggests that extroverts react differently to dopamine. For extroverts, dopamine — when the body releases it in response to social interactions — elicits satisfaction. For introverts, the response to this kind of dopamine release is overstimulation.
Introverts are usually more comfortable in smaller groups or alone. They do not usually have big groups of friends and prefer to befriend or get to know a few people.
One 2015 study found that extroverts were happier overall than introverts. The study associated happiness with higher relationship quality. Some introverts did score highly for quality of social relationships, but they were in the minority.
Introverts tend to be:
- deep thinkers
Introverts usually like to be alone and recharge by spending time by themselves. They may enjoy independent activities that allow them to refuel their energy stores.
Although introverts might enjoy certain social situations, interacting with other people tends to be draining for them.
An introvert may also prefer to have a close circle of friends instead of many acquaintances. One 2015 study suggests that high quality relationships are key to happiness for introverts.
People often associate introversion with negative personality traits. However, introverts are not necessarily ultra-shy, unfriendly, or socially awkward. They simply draw their energy in a different way than extroverts do.
Although the above traits may fit with an introvert’s personality, an introvert is not always only quiet, reserved, or independent. They may display other personality traits and even share some with extroverts.
People sometimes confuse introversion for social anxiety. These are not the same thing. Both introverts and extroverts can experience anxiety, including social anxiety.
Introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum. Some introverts may have outgoing personality traits, and certain extroverts might enjoy spending time alone.
Introverts and extroverts can share personality traits, though some preferences are more dominant than others.
A person with introverted tendencies might still like to go to parties and socialize with others. However, they will likely need to spend time alone afterward to recharge.
A person is likely to be an introvert if the following statements apply:
- They are quiet or reflective.
- They prefer to befriend one or two people and know them well.
- They enjoy being alone and prefer individual tasks and activities.
- They often spend time thinking and reflecting, and they may be slow to action.
People looking for a quick way to identify where they fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum can access several online quizzes that purport to determine introversion or extroversion.
However, the accuracy of these tests is questionable, and the results depend on how honestly a person answers the questions.
Introversion is a personality trait. Introverts are typically reflective, quiet, and reserved.
Extroversion is on the opposite end of the spectrum to introversion. It is important to note that one personality type is not better or worse than another. Introverts simply approach, react, and interact with the world in a different way than extroverts do.
Although these terms are useful for describing a person’s general personality type, it is impossible to confine the essence of a person to a single descriptor.