An Introduction to the Extrovert

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Personality types are all the buzz recently. It may seem like introverts are getting more than their fair share of the publicity, with social media and blogs continuously sharing posts about what introversion is and why introverts act the way they do. However, nearly everyone seems to be forgetting that the rest of the world is made up of extroverts. This article tell you more about what it means to be an extrovert and answer frequently asked questions on the subject. It will also recommend various personality tests to determine whether or not you are an extrovert yourself.

What is an extrovert?

There are several possible definitions of the term and each one is useful in a different context. The word extrovert, along with the contrasting term introvert, was brought to the attention of society by Carl Jung in his 1921 paper titled “Psychological Types.” Jung’s original meaning of extrovert and “The Extraverted Type” (“extravert” is an acceptable alternate spelling) is a bit more specific than today’s popular usage. The term was further popularized by the Myers-Briggs personality test which, according to the BBC, is “one of the most popular” personality tests in use today.

Cambridge Dictionary chooses to define the term “extrovert” in a straightforward fashion: “an energetic, happy person who enjoys being with other people”. However, many introverts also happily enjoy spending time with friends, and they could also be energetic. Therefore, this isn’t conclusive evidence of extroversion. On the other hand, Hypnotherapy.co.uk’s article gives a closer definition to Jung’s usage of the term. It includes the extrovert’s need for stimulation, and the fact that extroverts gather energy from being around other people.

With the myriad of available definitions, what you should keep in mind is that extroverts can have introverted characteristics too. You should try not to apply the term prematurely to anyone you know.

FAQs about Extroverts!

1. What is the difference between extroverts and introverts?

Since the term “extrovert” is so often juxtaposed with its opposite, the two traits (introvert and extrovert) are often defined in terms of each other. In light of this fact, here are some typical differences between the two:

  • Extroverts often like to spend free time with large groups of friends, whereas introverts may prefer to be alone or spend one-on-one time with a close friend.
  • Extroverts tend to function well in groups at school or work, while introverts may see group projects as a waste of time because having so many people around distracts them from getting work done.
  • Extroverts tend to process their thoughts externally, while an introvert may prefer to sit and ponder before speaking.
  • Extroverts crave more sensory stimuli than introverts, perhaps because introverts are more sensitive. This may lead some extroverts to engage in daredevil behavior.

2. Can an extrovert be shy?

Yes! An extrovert is not necessarily a person who has the superpower of extreme self-confidence. On the contrary, extroverts can be shy too. This is because shyness and introversion are distinctly separate traits. According to author Susan Cain, people get the two mixed up because “they sometimes overlap” to a certain degree. Thus, shy people are often introverts (though not always), which means that a shy extrovert will often be mistaken for an introvert.

Shy extroverts often have difficulties because their extroversion means they need to be around other people often, while their shyness causes them to be anxious in social situations, making the experience of being around other people a painful necessity. If you think you or someone you know may be a shy extrovert, rebellesociety.com has a helpful article on the subject.

3. Is it possible to be an introvert and an extrovert at the same time?

This is a tricky question. Many people regard the issue of introversion versus extroversion as a continuum or sliding scale. They would argue that a person can be, for example, three-quarters of the way toward the extroverted side (in other words, about a quarter introverted) and still be called an extrovert. If your personality falls halfway between introversion and extroversion, you can call yourself an ambivert.

Another way of looking at the problem is that since everyone is different, some extroverts have individual habits normally associated with introverts. According to Jung, being extroverted “does not, of course, mean that the individual behaves invariably in accordance with the extraverted schema”. In other words, we shouldn’t put people’s personalities in boxes and expect every extrovert to behave in stereotypical extrovert fashion all the time. As the Myers-Briggs Foundation‘s website puts it, “Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting.”

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the extrovert?

Knowing the pros and cons of your personality can help you choose a career, navigate relationships wisely, and come to terms with why you respond to life the way you do. Here are some characteristic strengths and weaknesses of extroversion:

Strengths:
  • Extroverts are often better at improvisation than introverts. They don’t need to have their whole work day or road trip planned out; they like to make it up as they go along.
  • Outgoing extroverts love to share thoughts and feelings with everyone, a trait which can make it much easier to hold a conversation with them (unlike an introvert who can’t think of anything to talk about).
  • Extroverts tend to work well in groups, which makes them ideally suited to workplaces and schools.
  • Extroverts can be brilliant at “thinking out loud” and talking through a problem-solving process.
  • Extroverts, says author Susan Cain, “are better than introverts at handling information overload.”
  • Extroverts are typically energetic and friendly, which can be a great help at parties.
  • Extroverts are often “doers” and quite good at getting a lot of work accomplished.
Weaknesses:

Personality tests

There is an abundance of free personality tests on the internet. Here are several complete personality tests of various lengths. Most of these tests are modeled after the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

  • The Sapa Project: For this test, results are anonymous and are used for scientific research. The test is free and is estimated to take 10-12 minutes to complete.The results offer a readout of percentiles on Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Integrity, Emotional Stability, and Conscientiousness.
  • Human Metrics provides a test based on both Myers-Briggs theory and Jungian psychology, and gives a readout of four letters to typify your personality.
  • Team Technology provides this test, based on the Myers-Briggs theory of personalities. It provides a free readout of results as well as optional paid additions.
  • This free personality test at 16 Personalities has a sliding scale, allowing you to choose different levels of agreement or disagreement with each question. Results include which “variant” of the personality type you correspond with as well as a “role” for your personality type, and a link to the (free) full report. There’s also an option to purchase and download a “Premium Profile” (about 100 pages long).

Introvert/extrovert tests

These are more specialized quizzes and tests. They focus on just the question of introversion versus extroversion, so most of them are shorter and require less time commitment.

  • Psychologies offers a quiz that contains 14 questions, one question per page. The results provide a page of information on whichever personality trait it decides you predominantly have (introversion or extroversion).
  • Susan Cain’s Introvert/Extrovert quiz was developed originally for her book Quiet, and is now available on her website. It’s a fairly quick quiz with twelve questions, but encapsulates the essence of the introvert quite effectively and so can be used as a relatively accurate indicator. The test results provide more description for extroverts than for introverts.
  • Psychology Today has an 81-question test (taking an estimated 25 minutes to complete) that thoroughly covers the distinctive differences between extroversion and introversion. The test is free, and it will give a free rating from 0-100 of how “sociable” you are. It also offers a “complete profile” which you can purchase for an additional charge.

Whether you’re an extrovert, an introvert, or an “ambivert,” understanding extroverts will help you get along better with others in personal relationships as well as in the workplace.

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