Do you enjoy spending time socializing with others in the outer world? Does the thought of meeting new people make you feel energized? If you identify with these traits, you might be an extrovert. Figuring out where you fall on the personality spectrum can be challenging. In fact, it can be argued that everyone spends time being more extroverted and introverted.
Renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, cited as the founder of analytical psychology, coined the terms extraversion (or extroversion) and introversion to explain how people use different attitudes to direct their energy. Being an extrovert means being more than being the life of the party, and introversion should not be confused with shyness. Learn more about what it means to be an extrovert and how to tell if you are one yourself.
What Is an Extrovert?
The term extroversion describes an aspect of a personality that is often characterized by expressive and outgoing patterns of behavior. People who are extroverts tend to be very talkative, sociable, active, and warm. Jung defined an extrovert as someone who feels energized by the external world and social interactions.
According to Jung, someone who presents as an extrovert may have an outgoing personality and feel comfortable and even excited in group settings. An extrovert may be characterized as a "people person" and have a wide range of friends to prove it. Having behavioral traits of both introverted and extroverted personality types isn’t uncommon, and these people are often described as ambiverts.
If you're someone who doesn't feel like they match all extroverted characteristics, the reality is that most of us fall on a spectrum and are rarely only one type of personality. Over the course of a lifetime, personalities can change, and you may find that, although you were more introverted as a child, you've become extroverted as an adult. Therapy and self-help programs can even help people become more or less extroverted. Your personality traits are what make you unique and often come from a combination of genes, evolution, and growth.
Extrovert vs. Introvert: What's the Difference?
Understanding your personality type can help you discover new ways to approach and solve problems, and it may also help improve your relationships and better understand your strengths and weaknesses. The most common difference between an extrovert and an introvert is that extroverts are energized by interacting with the outside world. In contrast, introverts are often more inward-focused and value alone time.
Here are some common personality differences between an extrovert and an introvert:
- Like working in groups
- Enjoy trying new things
- Tend to be described as energetic
- Prefer talking through problems
- Make friends easily
- Can be impulsive
- Enjoy alone time
- Prefer independent work
- Are typically more reserved
- Consider things carefully
- Are creative and natural listeners
In their engagement with others, introverts tend to be more reserved and process things best when they’re on their own. Extroverts have a wide social circle, are outgoing, and often benefit from talking through things out loud. When it comes to managing stress and anxiety, characteristics of an introvert, like their comfort with silence, can be beneficial. Meanwhile, extroverts who aren't afraid to take action and can work well in teams are often seen as good and effective leaders.
How to Know if You're an Extrovert
When you go out, you thrive in social settings and love to make new friends. If this sounds like you, you may wonder, "Am I an extrovert?" Measuring extroversion isn't an exact science, and there are several ways to determine if you tend to be more extroverted or introverted. An online assessment like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one option, or you can consider personality traits associated with extroversion.
Here are some common traits associated with extroversion that can offer further insight into your personality:
- You feel inspired after spending time with others and gain energy from social interactions.
- Too much alone time drains your energy and begins to make you feel listless.
- You thrive being the center of attention and are comfortable with unfamiliar situations.
- Striking up a conversation, even with total strangers, brings you joy, and you often speak to explore and organize your thoughts.
- You often spearhead group outings and other social events. It's rare for you to turn down an invitation to a party or gathering.
- Adaptability is your strength, and you welcome spontaneous decisions in your life.
Determining whether you're an introvert or extrovert isn't always clear-cut. At work, you may have more extroverted qualities and feel comfortable leading a meeting, but maybe at home, you enjoy spending time alone. People with a mix of traits are often described as ambiverts.
The best place to start with determining your personality type is by doing some introspection. Reflect on your own experiences and consider your personal preferences. Feedback from someone you trust and feel comfortable with is another good way to determine your personality type.
Pros and Cons of Being an Extrovert
There are several positive traits associated with being extroverted. Extroverts excel at making social connections and spend more time engaging with groups. Having more well-developed social skills can contribute to the ability to sustain friendships and may lead to higher life satisfaction. An extrovert's ability to discuss topics and be expressive is another common strength that may allow them to thrive in public speaking positions or other roles that require a high level of communication.
Some common challenges extroverts face include difficulty dealing with extended periods of isolation and failing to think before speaking. Since extroverts are known for dominating the conversation in social settings, it may be harder for them to listen.
Both introverts and extroverts have strengths and weaknesses. People who are ambiverts may have the greatest advantage because they often experience the best of both worlds. But being aware of the challenges associated with your personality type can help you make beneficial adjustments and make the most of your strengths.