Are you an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert? Have you ever thought about what these terms mean? With the start of the Quiet Revolution by Susan Cain, introversion and introverts’ place in the world are being discussed more and more. And curiously enough, different people describe introversion differently.
The survey I have recently run made it apparent that extroverts define introversion differently from how introverts see themselves. And even within the introverted group, people have different views of what being introverted actually means.
The same applies even to the scientific community that tends to describe introversion in terms of what it is not rather than what it is. In most descriptions, you define the extroverted person as an outgoing, risk-taking, action-oriented social individual and the introvert as the opposite.
The terms introversion and extraversion were originally coined by Carl Jung. To set the stage, let us use the definition below as taken from Wikipedia.
“Introversion is the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life. The common modern perception is that introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, or using computers. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate. They are more analytical before speaking. Introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement.”
Sounds simple enough. However, if you are an introvert, you may find parts you won’t identify with. Based on their research, psychologist Jonathan Cheek and his colleagues postulate that there are four types of introversion: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. When it comes to the actual introverts, they are often a mix of several of these introversion types.
Social introversion is described as the preference to socialize with a smaller group of people you know. Sometimes even with a group of zero people, the alone time. People fitting this type of introversion prefer to stay at home with their book rather than going to a party. I guess it is the most common view of an introvert.
People fitting the thinking introversion are thoughtful and introspective. They are likely to daydream and get lost in their imagination, though they have no problem socializing with others.
Those fitting the anxious introversion criteria also prefer solitude to the bigger crowds of people but for different reasons than the social introverts. They are driven to be alone by feeling awkward in the presence of other people, especially if they don’t know them. They are not confident enough in their people skills, so they rather avoid people.
Inhibited or restrained introversion would apply to people you would consider reserved or restrained, thinking carefully before speaking, not getting excited easily, possibly running their lives at a slower pace.
It all makes sense. It is tough to put people into narrow boxes. Even introversion and extroversion are a continuum with ambiverts in the middle. Each of us is a unique individual, and so the many faces of introversion help explain why some introverts are a bit more introspective, some more social, some confident but prefer alone time, some more anxious when dealing with crowds.
It also makes sense that being an introvert has a rather broad meaning, and you can change and evolve the way you desire as long as you accept your introversion, recognize your strengths and use them to your advantage when dealing with the world.
What are your thoughts on introversion? What is your definition of an introvert? Do you know people who would fit some of the categories above? What is missing?
Photo: skeeze / Pixabay.com
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