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Extroversion | Psychology Today


Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff

Extroversion is a personality trait typically characterized by outgoingness, high energy, and/or talkativeness. In general, the term refers to a state of being where someone “recharges,” or draws energy, from being with other people; the opposite—drawing energy from being alone—is known as introversion.

  • Signs of Extroversion
  • Measuring Outgoingness
  • Extroversion and Life Outcomes

Signs of Extroversion

Extroversion was first proposed by noted psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1920s, and extroverts are thought to make up anywhere from half to three-quarters of the American population. People who identify as extroverts tend to search for novel experiences and social connections that allow them to interact with other individuals as much as possible. Someone who is highly extroverted will likely feel bored, or even anxious, when they’re made to spend too much time alone.

Though many psychologists argue that extroversion and introversion exist on a sliding scale, and that very few people are “pure” extroverts, someone’s degree of extroversion is a core factor of their personality and is generally difficult (though not impossible) to modify. True extroverts are often considered “the life of the party,” but they can clash with more introverted types, who may find an extrovert’s energy and enthusiasm overwhelming or difficult to tolerate.

Is everyone introverted or extroverted?

Are extroverts always outgoing?

Not necessarily. While shyness is typically thought to signify introversion, it is possible to be a shy extrovert—that is, someone who draws energy and enjoys being around other people, but gets nervous around strangers or finds it difficult to speak up in a group setting.

Can introverts and extroverts be friends?

Introverts and extroverts can form close friendships; many report that their seemingly opposing personalities actually complement each other. But misconceptions about the other’s personality—such as an extroverted friend assuming, without asking, that their more introverted friend doesn’t want to attend a party—can lead to tension if not properly addressed.

How Extroversion is Measured

Gaining a better understanding of personality type can help an individual choose a career, manage relationships, and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. How, then, can someone tell if they’re an extrovert or if they skew toward introversion?

Many people, based on a lifetime of experiences and feedback from others, already have a good sense of which end of the introversion-extroversion spectrum they fall. But others may be unsure, especially because it’s possible to feel extroverted in some situations and introverted in others, or to fall closer to the middle of the spectrum. Online personality tests, while imperfect, may help someone determine if they’re closer to being an extrovert or an introvert.

How do I know if I’m an extrovert?

Extroverts tend to, in general, enjoy social situations, seek out new experiences, feel comfortable in groups, and prefer a full schedule. If this sounds like you, you likely lean toward extroversion; if you're still not sure, introversion/extroversion checklists can give you more information.

Is it possible to change your personality?

Many people would like to change their personality, either by cultivating more positive traits or minimizing negative ones. Research suggests that change is possible, but it takes work. In a recent study, participants were able to improve extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability—but it required consistent effort over several months.

Which personality test is best?

The Big 5 Personality test measures extraversion directly, has been scientifically validated, and is widely used in research. Anyone hoping to measure their extroversion (or introversion) may find it useful to start there.

Extroversion and Life Outcomes

Extroversion has been linked to a number of potentially positive life outcomes, research shows. Those who lean toward extroversion tend to be happier, more successful, and more likely to be leaders than introverts. They may also have more sexual partners and struggle less with mental health concerns than those who are more introverted.

Does that mean, then, that it’s “better” to be extroverted? Not necessarily. Anyone who identifies strongly as an introvert or an extrovert is likely to argue that their type holds the greater advantages—but in reality, there are pros and cons to each. Recently, some researchers have proposed an “ambivert advantage,” theorizing that ambiverts—individuals who fall near the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale—may be better off overall than those at either extreme.

Is it better to be extroverted?

It depends on your definition of “better.” Extroverts are typically more successful at work than introverts—but they’re also more likely to die young or experience infidelity. Introversion is perceived as less socially desirable and introverts may struggle more with anxiety or depression—however, the trait has also been linked to intelligence and giftedness.

Are extroverts happier?

Research tends to find that, on average, extroverts score higher on happiness measures than introverts. This doesn’t mean that introverts are always unhappy, however—and some experts speculate that extroverts’ higher scores may be strongly influenced by greater societal acceptance of extroversion.

Are introverts better friends than extroverts?

Some experts speculate that because introverts tend to form fewer friendships, they may be able to become closer to each friend. However, they may struggle more than extroverts to make social connections in the first place, and their need for solitude may lead them to avoid social obligations.

I’m very introverted. Should I try to become more outgoing?

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Introversion | Psychology Today

Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff

Introversion is a basic personality style characterized by a preference for the inner life of the mind over the outer world of other people. One of the Big Five dimensions that define all personalities, introversion sits on a continuum at the opposite end of which is extroversion. Compared to extroverts, introverts enjoy subdued and solitary experiences.

Introverts do not fear or dislike others, and they are neither shy nor plagued by loneliness. A crowded cocktail party may be torture for introverts, but they enjoy one-on-one engagement in calm environments, which is more suited to the make-up of their nervous system. Evidence suggests that, unlike with extroverts, the brains of introverts do not react strongly to viewing novel human faces; in such situations they produce less dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward.

  • Identifying the Introvert
  • How Introversion Differs From Shyness

Identifying The Introvert

The term introversion was popularized by Carl Jung and suggests an inwards orientation to one’s own mental life rather than the outward orientation of extroverts to social life. Introverts gain energy from reflection and lose energy in social gatherings. Most people are neither purely introverted nor purely extroverted but display features of both—they are so-called ambiverts. Almost all people, for example, need occasional solitude to replenish their energy.

How do I know if I’m an introvert?

Cultures differ in how they value certain personality traits, and America likes its extroverts; it rewards assertiveness and encourages people to speak up. Studies suggest that there are just as many introverts as extroverts, but they are less visible and certainly less noisy. First and foremost, introverts seek out and enjoy opportunities for reflection and solitude; they think better by themselves. They are drained by too much social interaction and are the first to leave a party. Even as children, they prefer to observe first and act later.

Are introverts happy in life?

One clue that introverts are happy comes from studies showing that they react differently to various stimuli than do extroverts. For example, introverts are more responsive to internally generated brain activity, from planning ahead to remembering the past. They are content with their own thoughts and don’t need a steady stream of novelty and emotional arousal to experience pleasure; they prefer the quiet of calm to the high of happiness.

Do introverts change?

Introversion appears to be a stable facet of personality influenced, like all personality traits, by genetics as well as environmental factors. Neuroimaging studies show different patterns of brain activation in introverts and extroverts, suggesting basic biological differences in the wiring of brain circuits. Nevertheless, studies show that introverts can learn to act in a more extroverted manner if they make a plan to change specific behaviors—say, make an effort to initiate a conversation with an acquaintance. Some evidence suggests that doing so increases a sense of well-being among introverts.

How Introversion Differs From Shyness

Introversion is often mistaken for shyness because both are characterized by limited social interaction, but the resemblance stops there. Those who are shy typically want to engage with others but are fearful of doing so. They are highly self-conscious and easily inhibited by others. Many introverts, on the other hand, socialize easily; they just strongly prefer to do so in very small groups or, sometimes, not at all.

Are there advantages to being an introvert?

Introversion is a positively healthy, if often misunderstood, way of negotiating the world. With a low threshold for small talk and superficialities, introverts enjoy conversations that are deep and meaningful. That can make them highly attuned to those they engage with. Such notable introverts as Albert Einstein and J.K. Rowling exemplify the creative edge that can come from strong engagement with one’s  inner world

Can introverts be leaders?

Introverts can make excellent leaders because they tend to be guided by their own values and can make difficult decisions through careful analysis without feeling the intense need for social approval. They influence others and lead them to important goals by quiet power rather than displays of ego. Introverts may do best when leading people who are proactive, while extroverted leaders can find such people threatening.

Do introverts have friends?

Because they have a finite amount of social energy, introverts tend to have one or two close friends rather than a large social circle. They prefer in-depth relationships to casual ones. Given their orientation, introverts run the risk of being seen as not liking others or labeled as aloof or arrogant. They run the clinical risk of being seen as suffering from social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder when they are not.

Can introverts and extroverts get along?

There’s truth to the belief that opposites attract, and many marriages are happy introvert-extrovert pairings. But especially in novel social settings, introverts and extroverts are at risk of misunderstanding each other. As introverts struggle to monitor all the strands of conversation and may even be plotting an exit strategy, their quiet may be mistaken for deeply engaged listening, which spurs extroverts to keep talking.

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Extraversion and introversion as social roles

The concepts of extraversion and introversion are known to everyone. But few people are familiar with the original meaning of these concepts. What Jung identified as a pathological tendency is now accepted as the norm.

In modern psychology, extroversion and introversion are a property of temperament, which, in turn, is a property of the nervous system.

But in this article we will talk about these concepts as about the role that people take on when they define themselves as an extrovert or introvert.

Why are they (that is, we) doing this? There are many reasons: introversion as a fashion in the subculture, extroversion as a forced position in society, for example, if you need to be actively involved in sales or if your parents brought you up in the spirit of "you need to be open, sociable and talkative. "

Image of an introvert

How does the introvert game start? nine0004

  1. In childhood or adolescence, a person is compared with his more energetic and active peers, describing him as a quieter and calmer person (it does not matter by what specific means this comparison is made, in what vein: from a positive side or a negative one).
  2. Over time, such a characteristic is assigned to a person, and he himself begins to consider himself from such a position. Our hero begins to build life priorities, taking into account this feature of his. But this is not yet critical. nine0024
  3. The danger of not being oneself appears when a person, having learned about introversion, begins to consider himself as such. When he actively defines himself as an introvert . And then the image of the "introvert" will grow and develop, supported by more and more information on this topic. Then there is a correction of behavior and adjustment of one's personality in the image and likeness of an "introvert" (as the person himself sees him).

What could be the consequences of such self-determination? nine0033

By classifying oneself as an "introvert", a person becomes a walking stereotype. He begins to behave unnaturally, explaining to himself and others that this is normal and that it "needs to be accepted." As a rule, this causes bewilderment among those who have known him for a long time. Although many loved ones can join the game and make their own remarks, saying that he has always been a quiet child or a closed book.

A person becomes alienated and withdrawn, ceases to live in reality. He becomes unable to truly engage in communication, to feel other people, to be imbued with art. For him, everything happens outside, and he is closed inside. Over time, a person gets used to such a life and forgets what the world really is. nine0005

Moreover, extroverts are energized when they are in contact with the outside world, while introverts are filled with energy when they are in contact with the inner world. By taking on the role of an introvert and maintaining it, an extrovert deprives himself of a source of energy and vitality.

In the end, for the emaciated person, "introversion" becomes a universal excuse. Need to go somewhere? There are people there, but he is tired, he needs rest, so he will not go. Need to do something? He is not able, and in general he needs to be imbued, and he works slowly, because he is an introvert. Need to talk to someone? He can't, he has to prepare. nine0005

This cycle can continue for quite a long time. And alone with himself, our hero is engaged in nothing more than procrastination.

The image of an extrovert

Replace all the points in the previous part with the opposite ones and you will see how the role of an extrovert is formed.

In a quiet environment, a child appears who is a little more active than those around him. A "label" immediately appears on it. Suppose he is forced to take an active position in his studies, then at work, and in the end he is happy to call himself an "extrovert". nine0005

Next comes self-determination and correction of one's behavior. The result is an inability to live one's own life.

He drags all his friends with him to rest, although only one would truly rest. He shares his innermost thoughts, for which he was absolutely not ready and therefore feels vulnerable to others. Even worse, when the outer life does not leave him the energy for the inner, which is so important for introverts, and he eventually even refuses it. nine0005


There is no escape from labels, which are so generous to those around us, and we ourselves too. But if we understand their nature and their essence, then we can do something with them. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert can only be judged by a special psychologist - a psychodiagnostician , and not by your friends and tests, no matter how professional they may seem.

In addition, it is important for both extroverts and introverts to have both inner and outer life . Therefore, you should not refuse either one or the other, calling yourself an “extrovert” or “introvert”. For a harmonious personality, both are important. nine0005

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Extrovert: who is it, signs, difference with introverts

Dividing people into extroverts and introverts began about 100 years ago. We tell you who an extrovert is, what are its disadvantages and advantages, and how such a person can succeed in a career

Who is an extrovert

An extrovert is a sociable, expressive person with an active social position. His experiences and interests are directed to the outside world. Extroverts meet most of their needs through interaction with people. So they replenish energy, receive information and rest.

Extraversion is one of the main personality parameters. This is evidenced by the five-factor model of personality - the "Big Five". According to this theory, personality consists of five main dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotionality, openness. Each of them has two poles. For example, extraversion is the opposite of introversion. Some people may lean towards one particular extreme, but most fall somewhere in between. In modern psychology, experts don't divide people into extroverts and introverts. According to research, each of us has traits of both personality types. nine0005

The history of the concept

The division of people into introverts and extroverts, as well as the terms "extroversion" and "introversion" was first proposed by the German scientist Carl Jung in the 1920s. According to Jung, extraversion is a behavioral type, and an extrovert person concentrates his interests on society. Introversion, on the other hand, is characterized by a focus on one's own thoughts and feelings.

As early as 1923, Jung recognized the existence of a third type, ambiversity, but did not include it in his typology of intro-extraversion. Carl Jung typed people in the direction of their life energy - libido. So, for extroverts, attention and pleasure is directed to objects, and for introverts, personal experience and subjective experiences are of paramount importance. nine0005

Jung's research was subsequently developed by the German-British psychologist Hans Eysenck. He developed his own three-factor theory of personality, in which he singled out three main personality dimensions. One of them is "introversion-extroversion". Eysenck argued that a person directs energy inward or outward - on other people, which determines the type of personality.

It is generally accepted that there are more extroverts in the world than introverts, but there are no exact statistics. Psychologists suggest that extroverts are more often "in sight", hence the conclusion that there are more of them. But adapted introverts can easily behave like extroverts. nine0005

Barry Smith, director of the University of Maryland's Human Psychophysiology Laboratory, says that 68% of the world's population are ambiverts. Such people combine the traits of extraversion and introversion.

Signs of an extravert

American psychologists identify such signs of extraversion as:

  • the need to communicate regularly;
  • love of public speaking;
  • habit of speaking without thinking;
  • feeling of discomfort in silence; nine0024
  • love for noisy companies;
  • pronounced leadership qualities;
  • desire to please everyone;
  • desire to always be in the spotlight;
  • the pleasure of working in a team;
  • ability to talk about one's feelings;
  • the presence of a wide circle of communication.

In 2015, American experts described two types of extroverts:

Agentive extroverts are persistent, purposeful, stubborn people. They care about career and personal success. nine0005

  • At work . They occupy leadership positions. They take on maximum responsibility, but do not always rationally distribute forces. Such people are able to quickly navigate and make decisions, but rarely think through steps ahead. It lacks patience and perseverance.
  • Alone with yourself . It is difficult for agentive extroverts to sit still, as their nature requires constant dynamics, new emotions and victories. It is important for such people to feel that something is happening around them. nine0024
  • In the circle of close people. Openly share emotions and experiences.
  • With strangers. Grab attention due to self-confidence. Becoming the leader of a group of strangers is a challenge for such people. An extrovert does not get tired of constantly being with someone, on the contrary, for him it is a comfortable environment.

Affiliative extroverts or "social butterflies". For these people, communication is the most important thing. Affiliative extroverts easily establish contact with people, they tend to have many friends and acquaintances. Among the main values ​​for this type of people are warm relationships. nine0005

  • At work. Team players. The best option for them is if the work is related to communication: many meetings and calls, business trips; responsibilities include organizational tasks and supervision of team members. For affiliative extroverts, the microclimate in the team is especially important.
  • Alone with yourself. Feel discomfort. In this they are similar to agentive extroverts - they restore energy through communication with people.
  • In the circle of close people. nine0004 Try to build trusting relationships. Do not be afraid to talk about feelings and experiences. This is influenced by their main priority - high-quality communication.
  • With strangers. Quickly find a common language due to openness and sociability.

Pros and cons of extraversion

Extraversion helps in building a career, but it also has a negative impact on everyday life and communication with people. This was found out by American researchers during a survey in 2012. They compiled a general list of the pros and cons of extraversion. nine0005


  • Perseverance. The ability to achieve what you want even in difficult circumstances.
  • Self-confidence. This quality helps to start a conversation with strangers or people of higher status.
  • Flexible thinking. Quickly navigate and adapt to new circumstances - the routine of an extrovert. Without this, a person of this type can get bored.
  • Ability to make quick decisions. But this advantage has a downside - the decision will be rash. A typical extrovert does not like to think about something for a long time, weigh the pros and cons and find the most suitable option. He just knows how to make decisions quickly. nine0024
  • Openness.
  • Ability to communicate.
  • Potential for quality public speaking.
  • The ability to switch quickly.
  • Ability to grasp on the fly.


  • Obsession. Excessive persistence can turn into a significant disadvantage.
  • Selfishness turning into narcissism. An extrovert always wants to be the center of attention. He is interested in leading the process and eventually receiving praise. This can grow into hypertrophied vanity. nine0024
  • Restlessness.
  • Inability to plan.
  • Tendency to not see things through to the end. The reverse side of the ability to quickly switch from one task to another.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Distracted attention.
  • Tendency to quickly change interests and priorities.

The difference between an extrovert and an introvert

An introvert is a person who tends to accumulate energy within himself. He chooses solitude and creation, concentrates on his own interests and intentions. Communication is not a priority for an introvert. nine0005

Colin De Young, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, described the differences in the brains of extroverts and introverts. He found that extroverts have a more active dopamine reward system, so they need constant stimulation from the outside. That activity that brings pleasure to the extrovert and helps to satisfy the needs, the introvert irritates, and sometimes depresses. Differences in the work of the reward system lead to the fact that introverts are the least prone to sociability and an active lifestyle. But they have a more “quiet” neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, that works faster. He is responsible for all human movements. Acetylcholine brings the brain out of a state of rest when it is necessary to act, and vice versa, inhibits the transmission of impulses when it is time to concentrate. nine0005

Other American researchers use the term "adventurism gene". Extroverts are distinguished by the desire to get new experiences. For an introvert, on the contrary, interaction with people, activity, quickly turns into overexcitation and fatigue. Therefore, unlike extroverts, they are less prone to sociability and an active lifestyle.

To determine what type of personality you have, take the TED test (or this one in Russian, but you have to answer more than 200 questions). And with the help of the Myers-Briggs indicator, you can more specifically determine your personality type and strengths. nine0005

Is it possible to change your personality type?

Susan Kane in the book Introverts. How to use the features of your character "writes:" Introversion and extraversion are formed in the first months of life or even during pregnancy. By the age of four months, a baby can most likely be assigned to one of two groups. Genetics play a significant role in determining personality, but people can become more or less extroverted.

To develop extraversion , researchers offer to participate in hobby clubs or engage in favorite hobbies in a group. So it will be possible to expand the circle of communication and interests, make new acquaintances and improve communication skills with each lesson.

To reduce extraversion, scientists recommend practicing meditation to give yourself the opportunity to focus on your own thoughts and feelings. It pays to spend more time alone. Walk in nature, read, cook and eat alone, reflect. The bridge from extrovert to introvert is journaling. Writing allows you to better understand your own feelings. nine0005

How to raise an extroverted child?

Psychotherapist and communication trainer Ivan Pritulyak notes that extroverted teenagers are prone to aggressive behavior and disregard for social norms. This is accompanied by complex and strong emotions of the child. The expert recommends talking to children about how they feel and why they may behave aggressively. Every day a child experiences a full range of feelings. For the development of a healthy psyche, this entire spectrum must be recognized and experienced. nine0005

“It is highly likely that introverted parents will have an extroverted child. In this case, parents should try to maintain their peace of mind and not move away from the child, ”says Pritulyak.

Introverts are good listeners. It is important for extroverts to discuss what is in their hearts, to experience emotions. “An introverted parent is able to build a trusting and close relationship with an extroverted child by listening. The child will say everything himself, ”adds Pritulyak. He should be able to communicate when and with whom he wants - ask a stranger about something on the bus or say hello to neighbors. Such communication can confuse an introverted parent, but it is enough to ensure that communication does not threaten or harm the child. It is also important to provide extroverted children with regular physical activity. Such a child needs to expend energy, and not accumulate it in himself. nine0005

Where it is better for an extrovert to work

It is important for an extrovert to find a place where the hierarchy levels are clearly defined in order to methodically rise to a managerial position. According to Russian psychological studies of pedagogy, our social role depends, among other things, on the type of personality. The need for frequent communication directs the extrovert to work in areas where it is necessary to contact people.

Jobs for extroverts:

  • HR specialist. nine0004 For the typical extrovert, this is the perfect job. For a recruiting manager, every working day consists of communicating with dozens of job seekers.
  • Journalist. The applicant must be, first of all, sociable. Extroverts have good potential for building social connections.
  • Teacher. Being the center of attention is the most comfortable state for an extrovert. This is one of the tasks of the teacher - to keep the attention of students. And each lesson is a small public performance. nine0024
  • Tour guide. He should become an interlocutor for a dozen tourists. In addition to the fact that you need to establish a dialogue with the group, the guide should be the center of attention throughout the tour, giving information about the sights. It's also a kind of public speaking.
  • Sales manager. Its main task is to interest a potential buyer. This is not only the art of communication, but also the ability to convince.
  • Event leader. nine0004 Such work can leave psychological trauma if a person is not ready for a long public speaking. In addition, the presenter must constantly stir up the interest of the audience and keep its attention on himself.

Read about whether it is possible to find a job and build a career according to your temperament and personality type here.

Is an extrovert a bad leader?

The leader must be sociable, self-confident, energetic and active. However, scientists from Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago found the opposite. Their research shows that introverts perform best in leadership positions because they:

  • think over their words and decisions, which does not allow them to take rash actions;
  • are good listeners. An extrovert often ignores opinion from the outside and makes a personal intuitive decision, because he is not able to concentrate and carefully think about anything. Due to the developed critical thinking and the habit of "digging deep" introverts have a good understanding of people, their actions and motives;
  • is more effective than extroverts in leading the process in times of crisis. Introverts do not sow panic, but approach problems rationally. This is good for the team. nine0024

The introvert's management style is called "servant leadership". Such a leader empowers employees, increases their areas of responsibility, boldly delegates and provides opportunities for growth. For an accurate understanding of the leadership style of extroverts and introverts, the researchers suggest comparing Barack Obama and Donald Trump - how they behave and how they act as the President of the United States. So, Obama is known for his thoughtfulness and accurate statements. He was often criticized for being arrogant and aloof.

Learn more