What is your personality style; are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Personality styles - introversion

The introversion versus extroversion model is perhaps one of the most influential when describing personality types among different personality theories.


According to social psychology, people with an extroverted personality type are usually talkative, outgoing individuals who get their energy from being around others.


Extroverts tend to thrive in the company of others and are constantly seeking ways to engage in social interactions because this is how they feel more energized.

Cain (2012) estimated that there are more extroverts than introverts by about three to one.


Psychologists reported that personality traits such as extraversion are not an all-or-nothing trait. Such traits are a continuum where people demonstrate higher levels of extroversion (or introversion) than others.

Essentially, human behaviour fluctuates according to each individual’s situation and state of mind.

For example, an extroverted person may experience increased energy in large social gatherings but be less extroverted in a small group.

Signs that someone may be an extrovert

  • You enjoy the attention and thrive around others
  • You feel energized around other people
  • Sociable
  • Friendly and outgoing
  • You enjoy being in social settings
  • You enjoy working in group settings
  • You often seek attention in social environments
  • You have a large social circle


Unlike their extroverted counterparts, introverts tend to be withdrawn, reserved, and shy.

Emotional states

According to Carrigan (1960), introverts are defined as individuals who get their energy from being in their own company and enjoy spending time alone to ‘recharge’ their batteries.

According to social psychology, introverts prefer to participate in singular activities such as reading, writing and meditating and are less interested in group activities.

Personality trait

Introverts would much rather spend time on a single activity and often analyze situations cautiously before jumping in and participating.

People who fall into the introversion category prefer one-on-one relationships over multiple connections.

Signs that someone may be an introvert

Signs that someone may be an introvert
  • You get your energy by spending time alone
  • You enjoy solitude
  • You feel quickly drained by people and need a lot of alone time to recover
  • You like to process your thoughts in your head rather than sharing them with others
  • You are thoughtful and considerate
  • You tend to keep your feelings and emotions private
  • You are more outgoing and talkative around people you know well
  • You have a small circle of close friends

Extroversion and introversion personality type theories

Extroversion and introversion personality types

Introverts and extroverts have been studied extensively by social psychologists and researchers for centuries.

Studies around the development of personality and personality traits have produced many theories and paradigms over the years, such as the five-factor model known as the ‘big five’.

Raymond Cattell’s 16-item inventory of personality traits and Han’s Eysenck’s three-factor model, psychoticism, extroversion, and neuroticism, have also gotten used to assess individual differences and personality traits in humans.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung

Perhaps one of the most influential psychologists of our time is Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who defined the introvert-extrovert spectrum in a psychological context.

Jung stated that human personality is based on four opposing types:

  • Introversion/extroversion
  • Intuition/sensing
  • Feeling/thinking
  • Judging/perceiving

Extroversion-introversion personality type

Jung described both extroversion and introversion as the way that people experience their inner and outer worlds.

Shy people

For example, introverts tend to focus on the inner world of thoughtfulness, insight and reflection.

Social extroverts

On the other hand, extroverts prefer to engage with the outer world of action, sensory perception and objects (Carl Jung, 1923).

Personality trait balance

According to Jung, an equilibrium of extroversion-introversion is the ideal goal for self-realization (Carl Jung, 1923).

Modern-day perspectives on personality theory differ significantly from Jung’s earlier work.

For example, recent studies emphasize behaviour associated with personality traits such as agreeableness and sociability.

On the other hand, Jung’s research focused on perspectives, i.e. an extrovert’s tendency to view the world objectively and the introvert’s tendency to view the world subjectively.

The above suggests some limitations in Jungian psychology in explaining personality types and human behaviour from a broader stance.

Myers Briggs type indicator

Although there were some restrictions in Jung’s early work, the influence of his extroversion-introversion model helped form the basis for the Myers Briggs type indicator.

The above questionnaire describes a person’s level of extroversion versus introversion, such as sensation versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, etc.

The big five

The big five personality traits

Another personality theory is the big five model of personality traits.

The above model was developed by McCrae and Costa in 1985 and states that personality results from five core traits that all get represented on a spectrum.

The big five traits are:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Five broad dimensions

Unlike other personality models, the five broad dimensions do not categorize people as introverted or extroverted.

However, people fall somewhere on the spectrum of either extroversion or introversion and can score high or low in either.

McCrae and Costa explained that there are behaviours or facets linked with high or low extroversion (1985).

Extroversion spectrum

The ‘big five’ researchers found similar traits to other personality models in that extroverted individuals tend to be friendly, more outgoing, and energized by social interactions.

Introversion spectrum

Those who scored low for extroversion prefer their own company and get drained by too much social interaction.

Introvert and extrovert universality

Although the big five models of personality types first got developed in the United States, the five-factor model excelled in describing personality types culturally.

The above suggests that the five-factor theory is universal and remains the most widely accepted personality theory today.

Biological differences in the brain: introversion and extroversion

Brain differences in the brain - introversion and extroversion

Biological studies have gotten conducted to understand why people have either extroverted or introverted tendencies.

One study by Johnston et al. discovered that those with extroverted tendencies had increased blood flow in areas of the brain linked to sensory and emotions (temporal lobes, the anterior cingulate gyrus and the posterior thalamus).

Other studies found that introverts have higher blood flow to their frontal lobes than their extroverted counterparts.

This part of the brain (the frontal lobe) is responsible for problem-solving, planning and memory, suggesting that introverts have higher functioning in these areas than extroverts.

Cortisol arousal

Another study conducted by Kehoe et al. (2002) investigated the cortical arousal in extroverts and introverts using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The researchers discovered that introverts easily got stimulated, whereas extroverts had lower levels of cortisol arousal.

Such scientific outcomes may explain why extroverts are more likely to become bored quickly than introverts.


Although some studies describe extroversion and introversion as extreme personality traits at two opposite ends, recent research suggests that introversion-extroversion is on a scale.

Personality trait theorists agree that individuals can get placed at the introverted end of the spectrum, the extroverted end, or somewhere between.

Thus, ambiverts are individuals that demonstrate personality traits of both extroversion and introversion.

If you are interested in exploring your personality in more depth, contact one of our specialists who can help.

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