Introversion vs Extraversion

introversion vs extraversion
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   These personality traits are very popular and used by a large number of tests. Even though we see this most of the time as two different things, it’s actually more of a continuum so the conclusion is that we all have some percentage of each of these two traits (according to Carl Jung and the developers of the MBTI).

   “Extraversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior, whereas introversion is manifested in more reserved and solitary behavior.” – Wikipedia

   I’m sure that most of you are pretty familiar with this definition, but the question is: how definitive is it? If it’s a personality trait, does it mean that we will always be this way? Apparently, there were conducted some twin studies which concluded that there are genetic components involved (from 39% to 58%). So a maximum of 58% of our introversion/extraversion is dictated by our genes. The rest we’ve learned. If right now we are more introverted, we can learn to be extroverted too. We can be 58% introverted and 42% extroverted or the other way around (in theory).

   Whatever the case might be, it’s about the comfort zone. If now we are more comfortable being introverted, we can extend that comfort zone to be extroverted too (also called ambivert). I found this to be very interesting because now I know that I can control this part of my personality. Even though I’m born with a certain genetic baggage, I can extend that baggage however I want and if I want to. Of course, it requires lots of work and it requires putting myself in uncomfortable situations, but it’s doable!

   From an introversion/extraversion point of view, how much % introverted and how much % extroverted are you?

40 thoughts on “Introversion vs Extraversion

  1. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs Inventory numerous times and I always score higher on the introvert scale. I was shocked by this the first time because I considered myself a highly social animal. When I thought about it I realized that I usually have to be pushed to be social and in truth, I’d often rather be at home by myself. As I get older, this is even more the case. With age comes acceptance. Some people have to have other people around them and others prefer their own company; no right or wrong, just being human. The percentages change almost daily due to circumstance. Today I am 10% extrovert, 90% introvert.

  2. Behaviour being genetic is something I actually did work on, back in school when I studied biology. It shouldn’t come as a surprise really, because survival is determined by our behaviour to stimuli.

    I think what is really interesting, is how behaviour is coded into genes; it opens up a lot of questions, because if behaviour we are yet to understand (when we are born) is built in, can memories also be?

    You can quite easily find online arguments that humanity does not really remember it’s past, because our genes do not allow it.

    I also think it’s a little crude to think of ourselves as percentages of something…I mean, it makes sense, but how can XX% introversion manifest, for example? Are we more likely to exhibit our personality traits in one circumstance than another?

    1. The interplay of genes, environment and behaviour is indeed really fascinating!!! I think it might be easier to conceptualise the complex, variable influence of genes on behaviour when it’s understood that genes aren’t coding directly for a discrete ‘behaviour’. In relation to the brain, individual genes code for the proteins that form the instructions for the individual PARTS of formation, structure and function of neurons and how they form systems with each other. It’s all of these (1000s of) individual protein differences within parts of cells that cause the genetic basis of variation. The behavioural output that we observe and label is the product of innumerable, simultaneous neurological processes that have been influenced by innumerable genes and genetic variations. By the time we’re observing a ‘behaviour’, all of those processes and systems have already interacted with sensory input from the environment and as we grow, genetic expression is being influenced by inputs from the environment. Unbelievably complex and scientists are still constantly working to discern all the influencing factors!

      Memories by definition are cognitive representations of an organism’s past experience. An organism can’t be born with memories as the organism needs to be living to have experiences and form memories first. It can be a tricky concept to get our heads around all the distinctions of these terms and functions.

      And the percentages do seem crude, until it’s understood that the percentages in the study mentioned probably relate to how much a group of monozygotic twins would predict variability in traits in comparison to a group of dizygotic twins- it’s a statistic probably not meant to represent variability within us as individuals, just to account for the statistical difference between groups in
      that particular study.

      1. I couldn’t post the link for some reason. It’s titled ‘Wired that way: genes do shape behaviours but it’s complicated’, on the Aeon site

    2. I believe we are more likely to exhibit our personality traits more in some circumstances compared to others. For example, if we do something we’re not comfortable it, it’s because it’s not yet part of our “identity”. The more we practice something, those neurons connect and we will be able to do that easier. For me, a few years ago I was somewhere around 85% introverted and 15% extroverted. Now it’s more like 70% – 30% due to the fact I kept putting myself in different social situations.

    3. There is a theory that is beginning to be accepted in the mental health community about ancestral memory encoded in our DNA with regard to trauma. This theory also makes the idea of past lives a bit more interesting.

  3. Good points about the continuum and about our ability to use/develop across the spectrum. My ‘introverted’
    and ‘extroverted’ tendencies come out depending on my mood, the situation, the people I’m with, what’s happening in my life, my sleep habits, exercise and nutrition. And this has changed over my life with actively learning how to enjoy and feel more comfortable expressing myself socially. I enjoy the company of others much more these days because I feel more relaxed and I inhibit myself less. I’d find it difficult to estimate a percentage, but I do primarily tend towards introversion.

    I think the continuum of introversion-extroversion can be an interesting one for reflecting on our habits or tendencies. The theory of these personality traits is in debate in psychology, as is the precise interplay of the innumerable environmental factors with genetic factors in science.

  4. I’ve taken various tests and each one has me as extremely introverted (like over 90% – whatever this figure means). I know others that seem to fall just on either side of the line, so I do think there are different degrees of extroversion or introversion.

    1. There are. And it depends of the situations as well. Since our comfort zone is more extended in some areas, we tend to express ourselves more in those areas so we might appear as “extroverted” in those circumstances. I guess it’s about the “daily basis” area.

  5. I’ve always been quite introverted, but when I was in school I pushed myself a little more in the direction of extroversion to better adapt to the environment. Now that I’m older I’m nice and settled into my natural introversion.

  6. I’m part of both, it really depends who is around, how I feel and what I want to do. I don’t see any personality trait as something fixed and unchangeable, or a fatality, we can choose most of the time and adjust, don’t you think?

  7. I love this conversation 🙂 I always test as an INFJ to the max. Most all of my introversion/extroversion tests come back 100% introverted. To be honest, I believe it.

    I think what should be remembered about introvert vs extrovert is these traits tend to come with different skill-sets as well. In the same way that genes can determine a lot of our personality makeup, I believe the same is true of these two “preferences.” Whether it is a natural tendency for sales/gift of gab, solitary writing career, on and on … I believe we are naturally gifted in these specific avenues based on our personality “type.” (Hopefully that makes sense.) And there’s a lot of inherent value not to be discounted in that.

    It is true that in this world it takes all types to accomplish what we hope to achieve. If we all stay true to who we really are, not trying to behave, look or think like someone else, we’d be in a whole lot better shape! Well, at least in my humble little opinion.

    Have an awesome day!

  8. I’m a bit of an extroverted introvert. I’m introverted; but, I like to share stuff if I think it might be helpful. The extent of my introversion is directly proportional to the level of how annoyed I am with people at any given moment

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