Updated: Apr 1, 2020
It is extremely important to note that there’s no ‘𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳’ side to be on. Both ends of the spectrum have their advantages and disadvantages, but by understanding where we fall on the scale we can address areas in which we’re perhaps lacking.
While many of you many be familiar with these terms as they relate to your relationship with other people, but that’s only part of the story.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬: for Introverts, the inner world is the “𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥”, and for extraverts, the external world is the “𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥”.
What does that mean? It means that this is the place where you are most at home.
Introverts are put in the position of constantly filtering information and calibrating it to what they know to be true internally. This can be quite taxing after a while, and time to themselves becomes a necessary reprieve.
On the other hand, Extraverts feel the most ‘𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦’ when they are interacting with their environment. As a general rule, variety is stimulating and the more people they come in contact with, the more interesting it all is. Too much time to themselves leaves them bored and restless, and they need to interact with their environment to ‘𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦’. This doesn’t always require people — simply going for a walk, getting out-and-about or studying interesting things can be enough.
The exception to these points is when you have a good friend, child, or significant other. Everyone ends up making space in their inner world for this person, so they no longer represent part of the environment like other people may. For introverts, that other person no longer is at odds with their internal world, as they have their own place there and don’t drain the introverts energy. For extraverts, spending too much time with that person can feel like being alone and propel their desire to get out into the world (intending no insult to that person). Just two sides of the coin.
𝗪𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.
Introverts are typically thought of as reflective, private, and thoughtful individuals.
Extraverts are assertive, gregarious, adaptive, happy humans with a tendency to take risks.
We are complex beings though, and multi-faceted.
Personality constructs can also be shifted to portray one or the other despite intrinsic preferences during times of extreme prolonged stress, or due to environmental constraints.
Making it more complicated, individuals can fall on the extremes of either spectrum — 𝘢𝘴 𝘈𝘭𝘦𝘹 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘥𝘰 — but most people generally have strong preferences for one or the other, but fall in between and exhibit traits of both.
The research is preliminary, but we do have some neuroimaging studies that allow us to dig a little deeper into these differences in the brain. They show clear differentiations in cerebral blood flow in between the types. Extraverts display more subcortical neostriatal and dopaminergic, rather than cortical dominant as seen in introverts. Introverts showed more activity in the brain regions associated with learning, motor, and vigilance control. Extraverts show more activity in the brain regions associated with emotions, behavioral regulation, and sensory input.
𝐈𝐧 𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬.
An extravert might think nothing of picking up the phone to have a spontaneous chat with someone.
However, if the person on the other end of the line is an introvert, it may well be considered completely nonsensical (I know my friends can relate here, sorry y’all, I swear I still love you).
A conversation-loving extravert can overwhelm an introvert with too much information. The overstimulated introvert can come across as disinterested when, in fact, they simply feel overwhelmed.
Let us know where you fall on the spectrum!
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