Many individuals can easily classify themselves as an extrovert or an introvert. Both of these personality types are unique, defining opposite ends of a personality spectrum while possessing their own strengths and weaknesses.
Studies have even shown that the brain activity of extroverts and introverts is physically different. A study led by Debra Johnson Ph.D. and John Wiebe Ph.D. used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure the blood flow in the brains of both introverts and extroverts. The researchers found that the two types were clearly separated by their brain activity. Introverts exhibited increased blood flow in the frontal lobes, anterior thalamus and other areas that are related to recalling events, making plans and problem solving. Extroverts showed more activity in the posterior thalamus and posterior insula, which are both related to interpreting sensory data.
Consequently, extroverts and introverts literally operate on different wavelengths, which would explain why it is sometimes harder for them to work with or understand each other in a day-to-day life. A clearer understanding of these personality types can help individuals interact with each other in a more knowledgeable way, which may help to reduce stress and encourage better interpersonal relationships.
Extraversion is far more common than introversion, as extroverts outnumber introverts 3-to-1. An extrovert can be identified as being more sociable, talkative, assertive and excitable. They will often seek out social situations because they thrive on sensory stimulation and gain energy from being around others. Other sub-traits that are common among extroverts is that they are generally warm, seek out novelty or excitement, are cheerful or gregarious, enjoy being the center of attention and are action oriented individuals.
These traits make extroverts more oriented towards leadership positions or roles that involve interaction with others most of the time. It also helps that they are less anxious when greeted with negative feedback and tend to have a more positive outlook on life. Extroverts typically become teachers, sales reps, marketing execs, public relations execs or politicians.
Introverts are very much the opposite of extroverts. Rather than seeking out external stimulation, an introvert tends to focus more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods. An introvert may be more quiet, reserved and introspective and rather than gaining energy from social situations, is drained and expends energy when interacting with others. In many cases, introverts need to spend time alone to “recharge” after spending time with a large group of people. Introverts are often more self-aware, thoughtful, are interested in understanding details, self-knowledge and self-understanding, tend to be more private about their emotions, are more sociable around those they know rather than when in large groups and learn well through observation.
As introverts are more private and thoughtful, they will often have small groups of friends and choose their friends much more carefully. Their closest relationships will often be very profound and significant and they will prefer to interact with people on a one-on-one basis rather than in a large group. Introverts appreciate being around those they are close to and tend to enjoy meaningful conversations rather than small talk. These traits also mean that introverts are better suited for jobs that are more independent such as writing, accounting, computer programming, graphic design, pharmacology and art.
Both of these personality types have benefits, but they also have their drawbacks. For introverts, self-inspection and a higher sensitivity to negative feedback may make them more prone to anxiety or, if they suffer from depression, may make it worse by heightening their social withdrawal. Likewise, for extroverts, the need for constant stimulation may make them more susceptible to depression symptoms when they don’t have enough people around or may make them more vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental health disorder or substance abuse, contact Sovereign Health of California today at (866) 819-0427 and one of our representatives will be happy to assist you.
Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer