Nuances of Introversion - Extraversion Personality Traits
Updated: Jul 17
It was a normal day in the Agarwal house. Shruti, being curious as ever, sat down to dig further into the terms - Introverts and Extroverts. Coined by Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung, these terms go back to the 1920s. She wondered what determines these personality traits and if one could switch between them in their lifetime.
She had known the words Introvert and Extrovert all her life but only began scratching the surface recently when she came across them in her psychology textbook.
As she stared at the Google screen reading about the personality traits of an Introvert, She began thinking of people she knew who fitted in that realm.
Anand, her best friend ticked off all the boxes for an Introvert. He is calm, quiet, observant, and happiest when reading his book or listening to his playlist alone.
The more she researched and read about introversion, the more she understood that introverts are not defined by a specific set of traits and qualities like being shy, unsocial, withdrawn, and self-absorbed. Rather, there are many shades and degrees of introversion. Some, like Barack Obama, may give great speeches while some may love to be inside their shell.
Introverts generally prefer a limited social circle, they need their ‘me-time’ to cure their introvert hangover after any social interaction and are perfectly at peace in their own company. Scrolling further, Shruti explored Extroverts.
Extroverts are like a flower that blooms at its best amidst company. Being the life of the party, confidently chatting in a group, talking, sharing, and being the center of attention comes easy for an extrovert.
‘Ahh...This is exactly like Mom!’ exclaimed Shruti.
The word Extrovert means ‘turned outward’, denoting people who love socializing and connecting with the outside world rather than being encased in their pod.
Like Shruti’s mom, people who identify themselves as extroverts have a larger social network and are more outgoing and expressive.
But what about those who are a blend of introversion and extroversion?
The word ‘Ambivert’ was first coined in 1974 by Psychologist Hans Eysenck for those who oscillate between Introversion-Extraversion depending on their mood and situation.
Shruti knew reading this, that she was an ambivert and went on to discover more.
Like a flexible dancer, ambiverts quickly adapt to all situations and are usually characterized as stable and balanced. In a study conducted by Adam Grant, it was noted that 2/3 rd people recognized themselves as Ambiverts!
These folks love spending time with others and don't mind being by themselves and engaging in their hobbies!
Shruti was surprised when the chapter didn't end there and there were more pages to turn!
While Ambiverts lie in the degrees bridging Introvert/Extrovert, Omniverts are those who choose the extent of their sociability each day.
Unlike Ambiverts, their personality shuttles and their behavior is normally tough to predict.
One day, they would be out in the public or cheering loudly in the stadium while the next day they would be shut out from the world and buried in their book or immersed in doing yoga.
They exist as introverts and extroverts at the same time giving a sense of duality to their existence.
Whoa! Shruti was intrigued. The varying shades and dynamics of a person’s personality seemed like a fascinating phenomenon to Shruti. Hungry for more, she read on to find out what exactly predisposes a person to these categories and if these were permeable or not.
WHAT SHAPES OUR PERSONALITY?
The personality of an individual is shaped by an interplay of several factors. As highlighted by Dr. Brian Little in his book, ‘Me, Myself and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being’ the qualities of introverts and extroverts are determined:
50% through genes,
25% by sociocultural agents; and
25% from personal goals/values.
Although Jung distinguished between Introverts and Extroverts, he believed that humans, as complex as they are, cannot be classified as pure introverts or pure extroverts.
Instead, these terms only hinted at tendencies and every person has an assorted set of traits and temperaments which fluctuate as per the situation and motivation.
Like when Anand had to give an interview, he consciously shed his timidity and spoke confidently to get the job!
Personalities undergo modification from environmental influences as well. Shruti’s friend Ruhi was a very reserved girl in school. But, when she entered college, got more exposure, and became independent, she evolved into a confident young woman!
So, Shruti concluded from all her research that introversion and extroversion lie on a spectrum that people swing through in their lifetime according to their needs, wants, and circumstances.
Written by: Aqsa Merchant (BA Psychology, SY, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda)
Proofread & edited by: Rubal Prajapati (Counseling Psychologist and Ph.D. Scholar at Bharathiar University)