We all know that one person we would describe as the "life of the party," the one everyone says is outgoing, talkative, and high-energy. In other words, we all more than likely know someone who would be classified as a typical extrovert. Though it is more of a spectrum, most people are considered either introverted or extroverted. The latter are those who tend to feel the happiest and most energized when they are in a crowd of friends.
Personality as an area of study originated with the ancient Greeks, but the ideas of extroversion and introversion as the world knows them today were proposed by a Swiss psychiatrist and early supporter of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, in the early 1920s. Dr. Jung also postulated that personality type has a biological basis.
There is a reason that we all know at least one person that can be classified as an extrovert. At least in self-report testing, extroverts account for most of the population in countries like America and Canada. In America, data suggests extroverts make up fifty to seventy-five percent of the population.
Many cultures, particularly Western cultures, prize characteristics that are associated with the extroverted personality type, such as being outgoing, talkative, and at home in a crowd. Those societies are tailored, particularly in work and school environments, to meet the needs of their extroverts, which in turn makes it harder for their non-extroverted counterparts.
The difference between extroverts and introverts lies in the way they "recharge their batteries." Extroverts feel energized by time spent with other people, making social connections. Introverts, however, feel energized by time alone. Extroverts may become bored and anxious with too much time alone.
Ambiverts, a relatively new personality classification, may be mistaken for extroverts at first. Ambiverts are classified as those whose personalities fall somewhere extroversion and introversion. Ambiverts may alternate between recharging with alone time and through social interaction, while extroverts always recharge through interaction with others.
Research suggests that extroverts are more likely to be leaders than introverts or ambiverts — though some recent studies disagree — and that extroverts are generally happier and more successful than the other two personality types. Extroverts are also likely to have more sexual partners and struggle less with their mental health than their introvert or ambivert friends.
There are some unpleasant things associated with being an extrovert, too, however. Research suggests that extroverts are more likely than introverts and ambiverts to die young, and tend to more often make snap decisions, for better or worse. Extroverts are also more likely to be romantically unfaithful than either introverts or ambiverts.
Although Dr. Jung proposed that introversion and extroversion have a biological component, some psychologists assert that people can change some elements of their personality — including extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability — with extensive work with a mental health professional. This could serve to help introverts feel more comfortable in social situations or help extroverts learn to better manage time alone.
Different personality types are suited to different career paths, work environments, and learning styles, and knowing if you're more introverted or extroverted helps to tailor your experience across those areas, which can improve better school and work performance. Extroverts and introverts also behave differently in relationships. Knowing someone's personality type can promote better understanding and communication.
Finding out if you are introverted or extroverted is easy. A multitude of personality tests based on the work of Carl Jung and other personality psychologists are readily available and often free online. Career centers also offer personality testing along with career aptitude testing to help introverts and extroverts alike find fulfilling careers. It is important to remember that introversion and extroversion are on a sliding scale, and very few people are 100% to one end or the other.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.