Differences between introvert and extrovert personality traits

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Kevin Mangelschots

We will be exploring the differences between introvert and extrovert personality traits because getting a better understanding of each other will improve our own lives, and that of others as well. And we know that understanding yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Important to note is that despite some key differences between an introvert and extrovert personality, people are more alike than they are different. Even if there are some key differences between each personality.

These are the main deviations between both characters.

Key differences between introverts and extroverts

The main differences between shy, introverted, extroverted, and obnoxious people.

These are the key differences between introverts and extroverts:

Introverts

Extroverts

Lower threshold for stimuli

 

High threshold for stimuli

 

Mainly internally focused

 

Mainly externally focused

 

Energized by being alone/downtime

 

Energized by being with other people

 

Often focused and not easily distracted by other stimuli

Often easily distracted by other stimuli

 

Love being alone

 

Love to be around other people

 

Think things through carefully before speaking

 

Speaks spontaneously before thinking things through

 

Not very talkative

 

Talk a lot

 

Small group of very close friends

 

Close friends group is often less intense

 

Fewer acquaintances

 

A lot of acquaintances

 

Only openly communicate with people they trust

 

Openly communicate with every person they meet, regardless of how well they know the person

 

Dislikes being the center of attention

 

Like being in the center of attention

 

Prefer quiet environments

Prefer noisy environments

The key differences between introverts and extroverts explained

Illustration showing the key differences between introverts and extroverts.

  • Both are personality traits

    Possessing a high, or low amount of extroversion for that matter is one of the characteristics of the big five personality traits.

    Important to note is that both introversion and extroversion are personality traits.

    It is, for the most part at least, not learned behavior. Although it’s possible to adjust your temperament somewhat and slightly tip the balance towards either introversion or extraversion through the environment of an individual.

  • Their brains are wired differently

    The key differences between introverts and extroverts exist because their brains are wired differently. That’s because the chemicals in our brains makes our brain and thus, us as people function differently.

    Furthermore, the ABO B gene is affiliated with introverted personality proclivity through connection with the dopamine beta hydroxylase gene.

  • Both have their unique strengths and weaknesses

    Picture of a SWOT analysis depicting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in a matrix.

    It’s also not a matter of one characteristic being better than the other.

    Both have their unique advantages and disadvantages. And without both types, the world would be a boring place without room for different kinds of visions. That would leave our world stale without any room for growth.

  • People are not purely introverted or extroverted

    An individual is not purely introverted or extroverted.

    There are also people who lie more in the middle of the spectrum and thus, possess personality traits of both kinds.

    A person can generally be very introverted with their thoughts and speech in social situations with unknown people or acquaintances they don’t know all that well. However, to certain people that they love and trust, they can seem like a very extroverted person. Even though to the public, they’re not extroverted at all.

    Important to remember is that behavior and environment constantly interact and influence each other.

  • Extroversion is linked to experiencing more positive emotions

    Image of a cat with a smile and teeth painted on a piece of paper in front of the cat's face.

    Extroversion is a personality trait that is correlated to positive emotions. That’s why extroverted people typically experience more positive emotions than introverted people do.

    Of course, this is not to say that introverted people can’t experience positive emotions, nor that they can’t be happy. However, we can conclude that extroverted people mostly experience more positive emotions than their introverted peers.

  • Threshold for stimuli

    Introverted personalities have a lower threshold for stimuli than extroverted characters do.

    The single biggest introvert and extrovert difference is the threshold for stimuli, and how they recharge their energy.

    Introverted personality types get exhausted, and tend to get overloaded when there’s a large amount of sensory stimuli going on at the same time.

    Extrovert personalities on the other hand, can handle large quantities of sensory stimuli, and are not prone to experiencing sensory overload. That’s why extroverted personality types often search out a large variety of stimuli, whereas the introverts prefer a more quiet place to relax.

  • Distraction due to stimuli

    Image of a man focusing on one thing while the rest of his colleagues are talking in a meeting.

    Like previously said, introvert personality types prefer quiet environments because they’re easily distracted by sensory inputs. That’s why they opt for silent places in order to be able to focus better.

    Extroverted types favor busy, loud places because they like having access to various stimuli and because they’re not as easily distracted by them.

  • Prefer quiet environments vs. noisy environments

    All of the above reasons makes that introverts actively seek out tranquil environments which helps protect them from stimuli overload, and where they can be most productive because of fewer distractions surrounding them.

    Extroverted types will actively search out noisier environments, since it stimulates them. They’re less easily distracted by inputs and thus, it doesn’t negatively impact them as much. They need a mixture of different stimulants to stay motivated.

  • Internal vs. external world

    Image of a man thinking while the sun sets.

    Introverts are more focused on their rich inner world, where they are free to explore their vibrant thoughts and ideas without any distractions. They can regularly be found preoccupied by their imagination.

    Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer to interact with the real world where they get plenty of opportunity to experience a large variety of sensory stimuli, and have access to an assortment of different folks to talk to.

  • Preferring being alone vs. being around a lot of people

    Those with introverted personality traits like to be alone. Socializing with others drains them of their energy, and they require downtime, and time alone in order to recharge their batteries.

    Individuals who have more extroverted personality traits would like nothing more than having others hanging around them at all times. They enjoy interacting with other people, and this actually recharges their spirit. Being alone drains them of their vigor, which is why they actively search out places to socialize.

  • Thinking before speaking vs. spontaneously speaking

    A young woman thinking in front of a laptop while holding her head.

    Introverts are inclined to think things through soundly before speaking their mind. This can be advantageous since they’re less likely to say stupid things, but can also be detrimental since this makes it harder to engage in spontaneous conversation.

    Extroverted types typically spontaneously say whatever jumps to their minds. This makes them seem very sociable, approachable, and casual in their speech. The downside is that they’re usually more prone to say things that are incorrect, since they don’t always think things through thoroughly before talking.

  • Quiet vs. talkative

     

    Image of a tooltip saying, “time to talk”.

    Introverts are generally quiet, unless they’re around their closely knit group of friends. They prefer listening instead of talking.

    Extroverts like being in the center of attention. They enjoy talking to others, and opt to talk, rather than to listen.

  • Small group of close friends vs. larger group of friends

    Image of the Friends cast sitting together.

    Introvert personalities frequently have a small, tight knitted group of close friends who they thrust, and share their experiences with.

    Extroverted personalities typically have a larger group of people they consider to be close friends. However, these friendships are typically, although not always, less intense since it’s harder to keep up with that many people.

  • Fewer acquaintances vs. lots of acquaintances

    Introverts have fewer acquaintances, since they’re less inclined to engage in social activities and interact with others. They also prefer listening rather than talking, which means it’s harder for them to engage the conversation.

    Extroverts, on the other hand, have lots of acquaintances since they’re actively searching out other people to converse with. They enjoy talking and are spontaneous, which means it’s easy for them to take the first step towards getting to know new peers.

  • Openly communicate with those they trust vs. openly communicating with everyone

    Introverts have a harder time warming, and opening up to other folks than extroverts do. They tend to see which way the wind blows before opening up to people. They typically only tell personal information to those they know for a long time, and are considered their best friends.

    Extroverts are frequently more open to people from all walks of life, regardless of how well they know them. That’s not to say that they will automatically tell all their secrets to those they just met, but they will share more info than introverts do. They’re warm, sociable, and don’t mind speaking their mind.

  • Likes watching from the sidelines vs. center of attention

    A black and white picture of a woman that's watching from the sidelines.

    Again, since introverted people are typically more reserved and quiet, they are inclined to watch from the sidelines where they can observe, instead of being in the limelight.

    Extroverted types, on the other hand, prefer being in the center of attention. They have no qualms interacting with others because of the attraction that being in the spotlight provides.

As we can see, the difference between introvert and extrovert personality types are quite pronounced. Especially at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is an introvert?

An introvert can be defined as someone who is more busy and focused on their own rich internal world rather than being outwardly focused on what’s going on in the real world.

What typically characterizes an introvert is their lower threshold and, thus, need for stimuli compared to their extroverted companions.

They get and recharge their energy from downtime. Either from being alone, or being engaged in their own inner world.

Being around other people drains them of their energy. This is why it’s not uncommon for introverted personality types to avoid large groups of people and go through periods of solitude. Especially after engaging in “extroverted periods” where they needed to socialize a lot.

Being introverted does not mean that you are shy, by the way. Even more so, it’s entirely possible to be a social introvert. Even though being shy is often associated with being introverted. Probably because introverted people are quieter and prefer thinking above speaking.

What is an extrovert?

“What makes you an extrovert?” Written on a white background.

An extrovert can be defined as someone who is more externally focused rather than internally centered. They prefer dealing with the real world rather than being in their own head.

What typically characterizes them is their large threshold and, thus, need for external stimulants compared to their more introverted companions.

They get and recharge their energy from being around and socializing with other people. Being alone drains them of their energy.

This is why it’s very common for extroverted people to actively search out other people and things to do. Especially, group activities with a lot of people involved are popular among extroverts.

Similarities between introverts and extroverts

Despite the differences, there are indeed a lot of similarities between introverts and extroverts.

Introvert and extrovert both have the same needs, regardless of being different personality types. They only vary in how much, and how often they have the desire to satisfy those needs
.

Let’s use social contact as an example. It’s not that introverted characters don’t want any contact, it’s just that they want a lesser amount, a lesser volume of social contact than extroverted characters do. That’s because it drains them of energy and because they have a lower threshold for stimuli.

However, that doesn’t mean that introverted personality types want no social interaction at all. As a matter of fact, there are quite a lot of social introvert personalities.

Another example is the amount of friends both types have. Introverted personalities might have fewer friends than extroverted personalities, but, that doesn’t mean that those close friends aren’t equally important to the introverts than having a lot of friends is to the extroverts.

Is it better to be an introvert or an extrovert?

Illustration of a green thumbs up emoji on the left and a red thumbs down emoji on the right.

Neither the introverted nor the extroverted personality type is better than one another. Both are needed to make the world go around, and both have their specific perks.

Each type has its own unique strengths and weaknesses and thus, a balance must be struck to make the most use of both personalities’ strengths.

What I will say is that depending on the situation, it can generally be more advantageous to be either an introvert, or an extrovert.

For example, when going to a party and making connections with new people, it’s typically advantageous to be more extroverted. However, that doesn’t mean that introverted personalities are lost or necessarily worse off when building new connections. Introverted people will however largely be more reserved and less likely to take the initiative to make new contacts.

But in other situations like the lockdown that’s currently going on, it’s more advantageous to be introverted, since those personality types have an easier time being alone than extroverted personalities.

Like with everything in life, every advantage has its disadvantages.

What can introverts and extroverts learn from each other?

The quote, “today is the day to learn something new” written in colored letters on a white background.

One can learn a lot from both personality types

I would note that introverts are better off analyzing extroverts and learning how to behave more extroverted at times and vice versa. Seeing as the world is very dynamic and different situations require an assorted approach for success.

A very introverted person for example will have a hard time talking and opening up to other people at parties, which might lead to them being seen by other people as socially awkward or smug.

On the other side, I do think that extroverts are better off learning to actively listen to other people instead of talking and being in the center of attention all the time in this particular example. Because learning to listen to others will lead to better and steady, long-lasting relationships for people high in personality trait extroversion.

In relationships, be it socially or romantically, introverts and extroverts can both learn from, and supplement each other. As both have different personality traits, which will lead to a necessity for both parties to develop the necessary skills to participate, understand, and respect each other’s interests and general temperament.

Realizing and understanding which probable personality type other people have will allow you to understand them better and more easily. This allows you to build more meaningful relationships with your peers without annoying each other to death.

Conclusion

Despite some striking similarities between introvert and extrovert personalities, there are some key differences that make up for seemingly totally different characters.

The main difference is that introverts get drained by social interaction, and extroverts recharge their batteries by socializing.

Despite those general differences, there are a lot of similarities between the two types.

The variation between both characters is mainly how they recharge and expend their energy. While introverts expend energy socializing and need downtime in order to recharge, typical extroverts get energized from socializing and expend energy while being alone, as it’s outside their comfort zone.

It’s not a matter of one being better than the other. Both have their own unique perks and imperfections depending on the circumstances.