Are You an Introvert?

woman happily reading aloneThere’s been some recent buzz on the Internet about introverts. According to self-reporting, introverts seem to cope with quarantine conditions better than their more extroverted friends. If you’ve shared in similar discussions, you might wonder if you tend toward introversion or extroversion. Because, well — is anyone exclusively just one type of personality?

Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, weighs in. “Being 100% extroverted or introverted is pretty rare. Most people are a combination of both personality types. The labels “introvert” and “extrovert” have become a short-hand way to express how people react to the world around them. Scientifically, though, being more one way or the other has more to do with how your brain processes information, which shows up in your behavior.”

Famous psychologist Carl Jung began using the terms introvert and extrovert in the 1920s. Jung categorized individuals into these two basic personality types by noting energy expenditure. Introverts, Jung said, turned inward to recharge, while extroverts sought out other people for their energy needs. Those that fell right in the middle of the scale were referred to as ambiverts.

You might be an introvert if…

According to Psychology Today, approximately one-third to one-half of all people in the U.S. tend toward introversion. Of course, having the qualities of an introvert looks different depending on your gender, age, and cultural upbringing. That said, introverts in general share many of the same patterns of behavior, such as:

  • Feeling comfortable being alone
  • Needing quiet to concentrate
  • Being more reflective
  • Taking more time to make decisions
  • Disliking group work
  • Feeling stressed or uncomfortable in a crowd
  • Retreating into their own minds to rejuvenate or rest.

One way to determine where you fall on the introvert scale is to take a test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the SAPA project

Are we born an introvert or extrovert?

Behavioral psychologists aren’t sure about this yet. What they do know is the brains of the two personality types work very differently. Researchers know that introverts tend to have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobes than extroverts do. The frontal lobe of your brain is responsible for remembering things, solving problems, and planning ahead, among other things.

Introvert brains also react differently to dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that turns on the reward and pleasure-seeking part of your brain. Introverts and extroverts have the same amount of the chemical, but extrovert brains get an excited buzz from their reward center. Introverts tend to feel overwhelmed by it.

What type of introvert are you?

Behavioral psychologists group introverts into four subtypes:

  • Social introverts – “Classic,” preferring small groups and quiet settings over crowds.
  • Thinking introverts – “Daydreamers,” spending a lot of time in thought and creative imaginations.
  • Anxious introverts – “Loners,” seeking out privacy, because they prefer it or feel awkward or shy.
  • Restrained/inhibited introverts –“Indecisives,” taking longer before committing and making decisions.

Interestingly, your introverted or extroverted ways will very likely change over time, and in different settings.

You’re not likely to swing from introvert to extrovert, but you may become more or less introverted, depending on what’s going on in your life.

At INDY Neurofeedback, we are fascinated with anything having to do with brains, thinking, challenges, changes, and behavior.

We welcome your questions…