We’ve all heard that the world is divided into extroverts and introverts. Even more, it’s one of the most popular and talked about topics in human psychology—countless blogs and articles have been written about it during the last years.
However, how clear really is our understanding of this subject?
After interviewing dozens of people and psychologists, we realized that this topic is extremely poorly explained and there’s a lack of in-depth knowledge and resources about it. This has resulted in everyone forming their own idea of introversion and extraversion.
Let’s start the discussion of this topic by debunking the most common myths about introverts and extroverts.
Myth 1. There are no pure extroverts or introverts, we are all somewhere on the scale.
There are stereotypes that introverts are very passive, dislike socializing, enjoy staying at home, wear all gray and black, and are afraid of people. While extroverts, on the other hand, are active, sociable, love parties, have a lot of friends, and wear bright clothes.
In reality, these qualities have nothing to do with introversion or extroversion.
Person’s introversion or extraversion is where the main vector of a person’s attention is directed, the way he or she perceives information. Introverts perceive information from the inside out, from content to form, from the center to periphery. Extroverts, on the contrary, perceive information from the outside to the center, from form to content, from the periphery to the center.
Here’s an example:
After watching a movie, the extrovert will talk about how the actors played and whether they were able to portray the characters in the right manner, as he pays attention to external factors. An introvert will say that a better actor was needed to portray this particular character, external factors are not so important. Introverts mostly see the essence of the character and the whole story.
Other qualities of people like sociability, fondness of being home, meeting people, or doing activities have nothing to do with introversion or extroversion—other functions of the human psyche are responsible for them.
Every person is an introvert or extrovert, but this does not mean that they will always behave the way stereotypical representatives of introverts and extroverts seem to behave.
Myth 2. People have a clear set of qualities by which you can understand who’s an extrovert or introvert.
As we already said, it is important to understand that extraversion and introversion are a way of organizing the human psyche, and not how a person behaves in society. There is a connection between these things, but in the real world, people do not behave as they seem at a first glance.
For example, there are two people who love to watch movies, let’s call them Ex and Int. They go to premieres, discuss the movies with friends, and go to movie festivals. One of them is extrovert and the other is an introvert. They both love going to festivals, but for different reasons.
For Ex, everything is important in a complex—to feel the atmosphere it is important to go out and to be among people, the film itself is a way to get new impressions.
Int doesn’t care about the atmosphere, he almost doesn’t perceive it. What matters for him is having like-minded people around, and watching movies that fit his inner nature, speak to him emotionally, and are not just beautiful or interesting.
So, both of them will enjoy going to movie festivals, but for different reasons.
Myth 3. If you like to stay at home, you’re an introvert, if you like to go out-—an extrovert.
Let’s start with the fact that every person has a need for solitude now and then. Some need it more, others less. However, extroverts and introverts differ in the reasons why they strive for alone time.
An introvert has limited resources for communication. This does not mean that he does not like to communicate, it means that after communicating he needs to take a break for recovery.
For an extrovert, the communication resources are unlimited, but the emotional bank has its limits. The emotional bank is a certain volume that the extrovert fills with emotions, thoughts, experiences, and then leaves to digest them in solitude. This does not mean that he has become an introvert, it means that he just wants his privacy.
Extroverts can communicate more and better in groups, less with just one person. Introverts are the opposite. For example, an introverted psychologist can communicate with 6-10 people a day and not get tired, since this is 1-to-1 communication. An extrovert psychologist communicating with 6 clients per day will be exhausted. However, a two-day performance in front of an audience is easier for an extrovert than for an introvert.
Here’s an one more example:
Ex and Int couple went to visit another city.
Int may really like to walk around familiar or interesting places, while Ex, overflowing with new impressions and emotions, may need to lock himself in his room and not go anywhere. This does not mean that Int behaves like Ex and Ex like Int.
Myth 4. All introverts are sensual and subtle, all extroverts are self-confident individuals.
A person’s introversion or extroversion is only the way how they perceive the external world. There are combinations of qualities where an introvert is very confident—clear, firm, and persistent. And there are combinations of qualities where the introvert is soft and insecure.
This does not mean that this person is more or less introverted, it means he is just different. He’s an introvert and has other qualities that make that make him behave the way he does.
There are extroverts with a logical mindset who are strained by new acquaintances and try to avoid such situations. And then there are very sociable extroverts who really cannot imagine their life without communication. This doesn’t mean that there are no extroverts or introverts. This means that there are combinations of qualities that lead to different behaviors.
For example, extroverts with a logical mindset will speak on detached topics when meeting with others, setting up invisible barriers in communication for themselves. And only after a while they will be able to open up to another person and talk about themselves. In contrast, there are extroverts who can open up to others easily and without barriers.
There are also different patterns of behavior for introverts. For example, when receiving a gift, some enthusiastically and sensually show how pleased they are, while others absolutely do not express their emotions and feelings, and it is very difficult to understand whether they liked the gift at all.
Looking ahead, there are about eight qualities that are combined in a person, and introversion or extraversion is only one of them.
We hope that some of the myths about introverts and extroverts were debunked!
You can check if you’re an introvert or extrovert by getting your free HRMNY ID—an online portrait of your personality. Visit hrmny.id to learn this and much more about yourself!
If you have other interesting topics you’d like to know more about, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re always open for your feedback and suggestions.