What does introvert mean in psychology

Signs of an Introvert Personality: Types, Traits & Characteristics

Written by Rachel Reiff Ellis

In this Article

  • What Is an Introvert?
  • Signs You Might Be an Introvert
  • Causes of Introversion
  • Types of Introverts
  • Introversion Versus Shyness
  • Myths About Introverts

What Is an Introvert?

An introvert is a person with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, which means that they feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally. They enjoy spending time with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.

When you hear the word introvert, you might think of someone who's shy or quiet and prefers to be alone. While that may be true for some introverts, there's much more to this personality type. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert all depends on how you process the world around you.

A psychologist named Carl Jung began using the terms introvert and extrovert (sometimes spelled extravert) in the 1920s. These two personality types sort people into how they get or spend their energy. Introverts, Jung said, turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.

Signs You Might Be an Introvert

Around one-third to one-half of all people in the U.S. are introverts. Though it looks different in everyone, introverts have many of the same patterns of behavior. In general, introverts:

  • Need quiet to concentrate
  • Are reflective
  • Are self-aware
  • Take time making decisions
  • Feel comfortable being alone
  • Don't like group work
  • Prefer to write rather than talk
  • Feel tired after being in a crowd
  • Have few friendships, but are very close with these friends
  • Daydream or use their imaginations to work out a problem
  • Retreat into their own mind to rest

One way to find out if you're an introvert is to take a test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the SAPA project.

Causes of Introversion

Scientists don't know for sure if there's a cause for introversion or extroversion. What they do know is the brains of the two personality types work a little differently from each other. Researchers have found that introverts have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobe than extroverts do. This part of the brain helps you remember things, solve problems, and plan ahead.

Introvert brains also react differently to dopamine than extrovert brains do. That's a chemical that turns on the reward- and pleasure-seeking part of your brain. Introverts and extroverts have the same amount of the chemical, but extrovert brains get an excited buzz from their reward center. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to just feel run-down by it.

Types of Introverts

Being an introvert isn't an all-or-nothing stamp on your personality. Psychologists think of introverts as falling somewhere on a scale. Some people are more introverted than others. Other people fall right in the middle of the scale. They're called ambiverts.

Introverts usually have a few extroverted traits mixed in with their introverted ones, and vice versa. There are a wide range of ways to be an introvert.

One study shows that introverts tend to fall into one of four subtypes:

Social introverts. This is the "classic" type of introvert. Social introverts like small groups and quiet settings over crowds.

Thinking introverts. People in this group are daydreamers. They spend a lot of time in their thoughts and tend to have creative imaginations.

Anxious introverts. They seek out alone time not just because they like it, but also because they often feel awkward or shy around people.

Restrained/inhibited introverts. These introverts think before they act. They aren't likely to make a decision on a whim. Typically they take longer to take action.

Your introverted ways may change over time, and in different settings, too. You're not likely to swing from introvert to extrovert. But it's possible you could become more or less introverted, depending on what's going on in your life.

Introversion Versus Shyness

Many people think of introverts as shy, but the two aren’t linked. Introversion is a personality type, while shyness is an emotion.

People who are shy tend to feel awkward or uncomfortable when they’re in social situations, especially when they’re around strangers. They may feel so nervous, they become sweaty. Their heart may beat quicker, and they may get a stomachache. They may be inclined to skip social events because they don’t like the negative feelings that take over their thoughts and bodies when they have to go to parties or other activities.

People who are introverted also prefer to skip social events, but it’s because they feel more energized or comfortable doing things on their own or with one or two other people. Introverts don’t choose to skip social events because they have strong negative reactions to larger gatherings the way that shy people do; they just prefer being alone or in very small groups.

Myths About Introverts

One common myth about introverts is that they’re shy. Some introverts may be shy, but this is not the case for all introverts. Other myths include:

  • Introverts are unfriendly. Being an introvert doesn’t affect how friendly you may be. Some people may think that introverts are unfriendly because they don’t tend to have large groups of friends, and they may reflect on situations quietly rather than joining in on conversations at gatherings.
  • Introverts can’t be leaders. Although people may think of an extroverted personality when they imagine a leader, introverts have the skills to be bosses and leaders, too. Some of their qualities make them effective leaders: They listen to their employees’ ideas, they can stay focused on long-term goals, and they may seem less threatening, so people may accept them in their roles.
  • It’s hard to get to know introverts. Introverts prefer to have deep friendships with only a handful of people. They may not open up to everyone who wants to small-talk, but the people they’re close with know them very well and develop real friendships with them.

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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Introversion - a complex of personality traits, which is characterized by a tendency to avoid social contacts. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced the concepts of introversion and extraversion, which later formed the basis of almost all complex psychological typologies and personality tests.

Studying the categories of introversion and extraversion, Jung distinguished, first of all, the direction of movement of libido (vital energy): the introvert is focused on mental activity within himself, while the extravert is focused on external objects. Thus, an introvert accumulates energy within himself (one of the manifestations of the collective unconscious), and an extrovert wastes it on contacts with the outside world.

The British psychologist Hans Eysenck borrowed the terms introduced by Jung, adding a number of his own characteristics. Initially, he considered these personality types from the point of view of the processes of excitation and inhibition, but then he concentrated on internal qualities. So, according to Eysenck's theory, it is difficult for an extrovert to cope with his emotions, however, as a rule, he is optimistic.

Aloof from everyone, the introvert is used to controlling his feelings, always plans his actions in advance and adheres to everything in order. Another popular interpretation of the concepts introversion and extraversion belongs to the German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard, who divides them according to volitional qualities: extroverts are weak-willed and subject to other people's influence, while introverts are unshakable in their decisions.

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    Introvert — Human Psychology

    Introversion is a healthy ability of a person to tune in to the perception of the inner world. It is a constructive, creative quality that is found in many independent thinkers whose contribution to human development has enriched the world.
    Marty Olsen Laney

    An introvert is a personality type that focuses more on its inner world and less on the outside. Despite their lack of sociability, introverts can be very pleasant and interesting interlocutors, if you communicate with them correctly on topics of interest to them. These thoughtful people have a lot to say, and they also know how to listen to others. Also, introverts often turn out to be loyal and reliable enough friends to rely on. But to become a friend of an introvert, you need to earn his trust, and not with words, but with deeds. In general, these are very interesting and in some cases even mysterious people who have great potential. Without any exaggeration, we can say that a genius lives in many introverts, but he, as a rule, sleeps. And in order to wake him up and allow him to express himself to the fullest, you need to help the introvert to reveal all his inner capabilities. Such people can give a lot to the world if the world will meet them halfway. Well, let's see what else we can learn about introverts.

    First, let's think about what, in fact, we already know about introverts? Basically, we know about them what they write about these people in books and articles on psychology, the authors of which often describe this type of personality quite concisely and stereotyped. In many books and articles that I have read, with rare exceptions, introverts are described rather superficially, so the information they contain about these people is not enough to understand who people of this type really are, what are their features. and advantages over the same extroverts. Therefore, I believe that one should take a closer look at introverts in order to better understand them and see in these people what others around them often do not see, including introverts themselves. In general, how many people tried to understand introverts, how many tried to understand the soul of these people, to discern their capabilities and explore their inner world? No, not many. After all, it is very difficult to understand a person who is closed from you, who lives in his inner world and is not going to let everyone into it. And it is even more difficult to help such a person to reveal himself, because for this you need to be sincerely interested in the success of this person and try in every possible way to help him achieve it. But if we do this, if we help introverts realize their inner potential, we will get more creative geniuses who will make our world a better place. Let's now see what psychology says about introverts.

    Psychology, as you know, considers two types of personality that are fundamentally different from each other - these are extroverts and introverts. These concepts were introduced by such famous psychologists as Carl Gustav Jung and Hans Jurgen Eysenck. An extrovert is a type of personality that is focused on external conditions, on the people around him, on relationships with them, in general, all his behavior is focused on manifestation outside. An introvert is the complete opposite of him, this type of people is focused more on themselves, or rather, on their inner world. An introvert lives more in the inner world, not paying attention to the outer world. He is self-absorbed, not talkative, but thoughtful, often very attentive, can well delve into many things that an extrovert perceives superficially. I believe that introverts make very good analysts, unless, of course, you develop analytical skills in them, because the calmness and prudence of such people best contribute to their study of various kinds of events and phenomena that require comprehensive consideration. I myself am more of an introvert than an extrovert, so I understand how important it is to be able to thoroughly immerse yourself in what you are studying. To do this, it is necessary to have not only the necessary knowledge and skills, but also the appropriate character. Well, let's first look at the typical behavior and lifestyle of an introvert with you, and use your logical thinking, as well as knowledge of human psychology, to better understand these people.

    An introvert prefers being alone. The less people around, the more comfortable he feels. It is more pleasant for such people to communicate with the same books than with other people. But not always. Sometimes they really need an interlocutor to share their thoughts and inner feelings with him, but preferably one who will listen to them, will pay attention to them, will be calm when communicating with them. An introvert is prone to creativity, inner experiences, as well as reflection and daydreaming. Such people, according to my observations, have a very good imagination. It is believed that it is all about the energy that comes to a person and is a stimulant for him. And if it is important for an extrovert to feed on others, which stimulates him to communicate with them, then an introvert perfectly receives all the mental energy he needs during sleep. Therefore, for introverts, communication with people is not a way to increase mental energy, they have enough of the energy that they have inside themselves, inside their own world, in order to live a partly detached life. But then again, what kind of person does not need support and inspiration, especially in those cases that require self-confidence and complete dedication? That's why I say that introverts need to be helped to reveal themselves - they need to be supported and inspired so that they can fully express themselves. But for this, you need to gain confidence in them, and this is not an easy task.

    An introvert is mostly passive and often insecure, but in many cases this is only visible passivity and uncertainty. The fact is that introverts are prone to deep reflection, so their activity is more expressed in mental research, and not in continuous actions and pretentious behavior, so from the outside it may seem like passivity.

    As for self-doubt, here much depends on how the introvert himself evaluates his character, his behavior and his way of life. After all, an insecure person is such because his psyche is based on his own opinion about himself as an insecure person, and therefore his contacts with the outside world are limited, including for this reason, and not only because he is an introvert by nature. So, one should not judge an introvert as a person who is closed in himself and therefore insecure in himself, since in life such people can have a status that is quite acceptable to them. And their closed lifestyle has its advantages, and sometimes very significant ones. In general, introverts have many virtues and strengths, which, unfortunately, many of them do not know or even suspect, and therefore cannot fully develop them. However, a good psychologist can help an introvert, if he needs such help, to use his full potential to the maximum.

    It is also worth noting that introverts are often very pleasant to deal with. Not with everyone, of course, but with many, because they feel responsibility and devotion, which inspire confidence in them. It is also very pleasant to communicate with introverts one on one. In such communication, an introverted person is able to tell a lot more about himself than when communicating in a company, and he is also more inclined to listen very carefully and thoughtfully to his interlocutor. Communication with an introvert is not stressful, because for him any opportunity to annoy the interlocutor is a disaster. Introverts do not like intense and energetic conversation, they are more inclined towards calm communication, which they try to adhere to. Such people do not require collectivism, they are completely independent and can work outside the team. Which, by the way, is not always taken into account by those for whom they work.

    Since introverts do not want to draw too much attention to themselves, they avoid publicity and, as they say, going on stage, they can always be seen somewhere on the side, so to speak, in the back of the classroom, in the corner. This, in turn, allows them to be secretive and observant, to make a detailed analysis of any situation, to draw more or less objective conclusions. Introverts are often much smarter than people around them think they are, but they don't always show their intelligence. It is quite enough for them to draw the necessary conclusions only for themselves, to solve their current problems and tasks. They do not like to show off in public, they do not need it.

    Communication with such people is often difficult. Therefore, for a person who wants to start a conversation with an introvert who does not want to make contact, it is important to approach the beginning of the conversation very carefully, simply and naturally, without any negative reaction to the words and actions of the introvert, since he is afraid of her, and therefore does not want to make contact. If you want to win over an introvert, no matter what type of person you yourself are, you just need to clearly demonstrate your sincere interest in him, and of course flatter him after the very first word he utters, phrases. Although such people are often not stupid, nothing human is alien to them, so any of your admiration for them, even if it is obviously simulated, will surely bring you closer to them. An introvert is easily won over to his side if you enter his inner world and become part of this world. But sometimes it can be done by just pressing a little on it. Just do not assume that after saying “yes” to you, the introvert will not change his mind later, after thinking carefully about your proposal, about your words. Therefore, if you still want to get yours from such a person, forge, as they say, iron while it is hot. That is, do not give the introvert too much time to think, get him to take the actions you need right away if he is physically ready to take them. However, if you are an honest and decent person, or just don’t rush anywhere, then you don’t have to rush the introvert, offering him something, putting pressure on him. Rather, on the contrary, you should give him time to think about your proposal in order to gain confidence in him. And then, do not forget that people are all different, regardless of their character, so when communicating with each specific person, it is necessary to take into account many of his individual characteristics in order for this communication to be useful for both of you. Each of us has the features of both an introvert and an extrovert, so each of us requires an individual approach.

    However, one cannot ignore the fact that the more time an introvert is given to think, the more likely it is that he will come to the right conclusion for himself, and possibly the wrong conclusion for you, according to which your interests to him they will not be so much needed to help you in some way and to meet you halfway in some way. And so he will find a way to refuse you. So the introvert must, so to speak, be spoken to, smoothly drawing him into the conversation, in order to incline him to the decisions and actions you need. And for this, you must first enter into a dialogue with him. And in order to enter into a dialogue with him, you must know how you can interest him. Despite the fact that introverts do not experience an urgent need for communication, like extroverts, they are still people, and here you don’t even have to be a psychologist to understand that every person needs communication and attention. Therefore, in relation to introverts, it is better to be more courageous, assertive and behave confidently, but not arrogantly, if with calm and balanced communication you cannot get the desired reaction from them. Don't assume that all introverts are the same and that they all require the same approach. Nothing like this. Such people can be flexible like plasticine, which, at the slightest pressure, takes the shape you need, or they can be strong like steel, which you not only cannot break with force and pressure, but, on the contrary, harden even more. Therefore, be careful when dealing with introverts, carefully study the inner world of these people, delving into every word they utter, before choosing the appropriate model of behavior with them.

    I, thanks to my own observations, believe that there must be activity in communication with an introvert. Even if you yourself belong to this type of people, if you yourself do not like to make contact with other people, without special need, then in order to interest an introvert in something, you will have to become more active, courageous and self-confident. That is, if necessary, you can put on the mask of an active and self-confident person, for a while, in order to agree on something with an introvert from this position. Then your nature will still come out, but it won’t get worse for you, because the main thing is to establish contact with a person, the main thing is to enter into his confidence and interest him in yourself. And for this, all means are good, because only with full communication with each other, we can get a lot of benefit from each other. We are all different people, each of us needs to pick up his own key. In one case, it will be useful to adapt to a person so that he agrees to establish contact with you, in another, it is necessary to be the exact opposite of a person so that he himself shows interest in you.

    One should not think that an introvert is more attracted to people with a similar character, because some introverts absolutely unreasonably consider themselves inferior members of society, and therefore dislike both themselves and others who are the same introverts as they are. This is an erroneous position, but an insecure introverted person, dissatisfied with his life, considers it to be true, therefore he is drawn not to the same people as himself, but to extroverts, that is, to those whom he considers more self-confident people. In general, of course, Carl Jung gave a good definition of different types of people, but in general it all comes down to the same self-confidence, which is more often found in extroverts than introverts. So a person with a high position in society often turns out to be an extrovert. However, as a rule, both of these types live in a person, so it is most often not necessary to speak of pronounced introverts or extroverts. In addition, a person's behavior throughout life can change, depending on the circumstances, so many qualities of his character are not constant. During my practice, I have repeatedly observed changes in human behavior that occurred due to the impact of various external factors on him. Moreover, I myself helped this happen when it was needed. So introverts can become more like extroverts if a series of actions performed with their psyche change their attitude towards themselves and others. And extroverts, respectively, can become similar to introverts, both by their own will and by the will of external factors. Make the most silent silent person more confident in himself, and you will see that he also has a voice, has his own idea of ​​\u200b\u200bhow something should be arranged, has his own opinion, which he will certainly begin to express.

    Confidence, my friends, does wonders for people. And no matter what type of personality a person belongs to, it is this person’s self-confidence that largely determines his behavior and activity in society. And that means his success. So, my friends, no matter what type of person you are, in life you can achieve everything you want if you actively engage in self-development. I understand that this sounds a little trite, but nevertheless, this is a very relevant parting word, especially in our time, when people have truly grandiose opportunities. Introversion and extraversion are simply the most common criteria for categorizing personality in psychology. Don't give him too much attention. In fact, your personality is much more complex, much more interesting and mysterious.

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