Differences Between Introverts and Extraverts

Most of us think we know the difference between introverts and extraverts. Introverts seldom go anywhere, right? They’d rather stay at home and read a book. Extraverts are party animals. Wherever the action is, that’s where you’ll find them. Introverts don’t talk much. Extraverts talk all the time.

To some extent, this is true. But there’s much more to it than that.

Introverts don’t just find a hole somewhere and sit in it, protected from the outside world. They’re recharging their batteries, collecting their thoughts, and getting their feelings organized. When they’re in the outside world, they’re certainly able to be friendly and talkative some of the time. But after a while they tire out. They need privacy to regroup, think things over, and decide what it all means. If they’ve been let down by a friend, they want to mull the matter over before talking about it. Not extraverts. Too much time alone makes them antsy. When left in solitude for a long period, they get irritable. They need to talk to other people. It’s how they get their energy.

If you send an introvert and an extravert to a party together, you can almost count on the introvert suggesting they leave early and the extravert wanting to stay until the lights are turned out. The difference? The introvert is being depleted of energy. The extravert is recharging.

Here are some of the hallmarks of the two types:


• Gathers energy from thinking and reflecting in private.

• Needs plenty of time alone.

• When in social settings, comes across as reserved.

• Is drained by prolonged exposure to groups, at work or anywhere else.

• At parties, talks to only two or three people, preferably previous acquaintances.

• Suspicious of people who seem too glib.

• Doesn’t reveal personal information readily.

• Dislikes being interrupted while concentrating on something.


• Comes to life in group settings. Mixes easily in crowds.

• Needs the stimulation of social activities to function effectively.

• Knows a lot of people and considers many of them friends.

• Can work and function in noisy, busy settings.

• Isn’t distracted by the TV, radio, or conversations of others.

• Tends to dominate conversations, especially with introverts.

• Approaches strangers as easily as friends.

• Discloses personal information readily.

• Needs frequent attention and affirmation from others.

Subtleties of Introversion and Extraversion

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst whose work on personality types opened up the field of personality typology in the early 1900s, introduced the concepts of introversion and extraversion. These ideas were further developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, creators of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory.

As the words introvert and extravert are used these days, they miss some of the subtleties of the original Jungian terms. Now, people think of introverts as shy, withdrawn people. They think of extraverts as talkative, outgoing types. Jung intended the words to indicate not where a person’s actions are invested but the source of their psychological energy.

Extraverts focus their attention on people and events in the external world. Introverts focus on their inner world. As personality preferences, one is no better than the other. Both are simply ways that people construct meaning from their experiences.

It’s important to remember that the functions of introversion and extraversion are preferences, not rigid personality characteristics. While introverts may be reserved and quiet most of the time, they’re quite capable of being talkative and outgoing when a topic comes up that interests them. The same is true if they’re talking with close friends about subjects of mutual interest.

Speaking from personal experience, I have friends who swear that I’m an extravert. They’re wrong. Nothing pleases me more than checking my calendar and finding that I have no appointments that day. However, when I do have appointments and they engage my interests, I look like an extravert—outgoing and enthusiastic. What I’m not interested in are meetings devoted solely to social interaction.

Are extraverts always talkative and outgoing? Not necessarily. While they are energized by the company of others and enjoy contributing to conversations, they are capable of being quiet observers. The defining factor is where their attention is focused. Extraverted news reporters, for example, may have little to say while watching and recording a public event. While they are absorbed in filming, recording or taking notes, they may be mostly quiet and observant. As soon as these extraverts have done their jobs, however, they’re likely to feel a need to talk with others about what they’ve witnessed. Introverts, on the other hand, will process the information internally first and talk about it later.

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College Kids, Alcohol, and Myers-Briggs Personality Type

What does Myers-Briggs personality type have to do with alcohol abuse in college kids? Does personality type influence drinking behavior? If so, how? According to recent research, there are definite connections. When teenagers go to college, they take their old personalities with them but expose them to new, challenging situations.

Triggers for Drinking/Substance Abuse

Going to college is an adventure for most 17- and 18-year-olds. It’s the first time they’ve lived away from home. The freedom to make their own choices is exciting. For some personality types, it can also be a trigger for anxiety. Suddenly, freshmen find themselves taking difficult college courses—nothing like classes in high school. For the first time, they are in charge of their schedules. Most haven’t learned time management strategies to help them deal with their workload. Their mom or dad is no longer standing behind them saying, “Time to do your homework.”

For 18-year-olds who found their parents restrictive back home, the freedom may be especially intoxicating. However, it comes at a price. It’s easier to make a wrong decision without the support of family, previously taken for granted. The teenager is no longer grounded by the affection and reassurance of close friends from high school. He or she must establish new social networks. It’s a time to experiment, and often the experiments involve risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use.

Research conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration (SAHSA) indicates that nearly half of all college students engage in binge drinking over any 30-day period. This includes freshmen with little or no previous contact with alcohol. About one fourth of college students in the SAHSA study reported binge drinking and one third had gotten drunk at least once. Of these, one fourth had been drunk six or more times.

Personality Type and Alcohol Abuse

Research shows a definite correlation between Myers-Briggs personality type and alcohol use in college students.

Introversion/Extraversion. The first aspect of personality that appears to influence drinking behavior is whether a person is introverted or extraverted—that is, private or outgoing. The traits of Introversion and Extraversion relate to where a person draws his or her energy. Introverts get theirs by retiring from social contact and focusing inward. They tend to be reserved and cautious. In contrast, extraverts get irritable when left alone too long. They draw their energy from social contact with others.

Myers-Briggs studies differ in their conclusions about the influence of Introversion/Extraversion on drinking behavior. This is because introverts and extraverts appear to drink for different reasons. People who are naturally extraverted may drink in social situations, but they tend to drink less. In fact, the most responsible drinking behavior is seen in extraverted students. Introverts spend more time alone and tend to keep their emotions under wraps, including their feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. The resulting stress may attract them to the relief offered by alcohol and other mood-altering substances.

Perceiving/Judging. The second pair of traits that influence alcohol use in college students is perceiving and judging. These traits relate to attitudes toward life and spontaneity of behavior. Perceiving types are flexible and immediate in their approaches to tasks and social relationships. They prefer to “wing it.” Judging types are more comfortable with closure. They are decisive, consider the facts before drawing conclusions, but then act promptly. Perceiving people are often sensation-seekers, a trait that sometimes encourages drinking. They think, “What the heck? I might as well try it.” Judging types are more likely to draw conclusions about their behaviors from past experience and are less likely to take chances—a trait that may protect them where alcohol is concerned.

Other Preference Pairs. Researchers have been surprised by the lack of correlation between the sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling preferences and alcohol consumption. Researchers suggest that the explanation lies in the fact that the sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling are “mental functions,” which appear to have little impact on risk-taking behaviors. The sensing preference involves direct experience with the external world. Sensing people are fact-finders. Intuitive people are more oriented to creative thinking. Neither preference seems to be connected with drinking behavior.

The same is true of thinking and feeling. Thinking types are rational and logical, priding themselves on this aspect of their personality. Feeling types are more affected by mood and the needs of others. It seems logical that feeling types would be more likely to use mood-altering substances, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Predicting Alcoholism and Drug Use in College Students

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds that substance abuse behaviors starting in the teen years are likely to continue through life. The good news, says the CDC, is that alcohol abuse is preventable if addressed during the transition of teenagers from high school to college.

Myers-Briggs preferences are usually constant over a lifetime. The type a person is at age 18 is the type he or she will probably be at age 68. The difference is that the scores will be less extreme. People who were once pronounced introverts become more outgoing. Those who were once off the charts on the perceiving function learn to practice their judging function more over the years. They get better at meeting deadlines, being on time for appointments, and so on. In this way, scores on the four pairs of personality functions are likely to migrate toward the middle, but they seldom cross over. Once an INFP, for example, always an INFP.

The bottom line is that college students who are introverted and perceiving on the Myers-Briggs scale need to be cautious about alcohol use. To do this, most will need more effective health education and counseling services than are now available on the nation’s campuses.


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Source: Your Secret Self


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Source: Your Secret Self

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Source: Your Secret Self