Some think every shy person is an introvert and that they are over-sensitive and quiet. Thinking that introverts hate people is also a misconception. Western society seems to favor extroverts. However, there are pros and cons to both these personality types. An interesting fact is that very few people are 100% intro or extroverts. Instead, most people lean more towards one or the other.
Where does the term introvert come from?
The famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, coined the terms introvert and extrovert in 1921. The two terms refer to two personality types, defined by the different ways they experience and process the world.
What makes an introvert different from an extrovert?
The differences come in how people’s brains work. The brain produces dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter. It is a feel-good chemical that energizes us when we take risks and act impulsively. Introverts need very little dopamine, and too much of it causes overstimulation. Therefore, introverts prefer being with small groups of people or alone.
Do introverts overthink things?
In contrast to extroverts who often act impulsively, introverts’ brains collect stimuli via a lengthy corridor. It is called the acetylcholine pathway that travels through various areas of the brain. Taking in all the stimuli along the way enables introverts to notice errors and small details. They tend to take their time to process all the information and react to it. That is where the idea that introverts overthink things comes from.
In a contrasting manner, extroverts require more stimulation to recharge and re-energize them. This is because their dopamine tolerance is higher. Their brains need little time to receive stimuli, which allows them to react rapidly and respond to various situations and environments. Therefore, extroverts are happiest among large crowds, and they often act impulsively.
Other contrasting characteristics
The differences in biological brain functions allow introverts to be better listeners than extroverts. They do not like to engage in small talk because they prefer to think before they speak. Their preference for solitude poses less risk of making social blunders. Introverts are better at reading others, and they are good at problem-solving. They are not as hasty as extroverts whose love for taking risks makes them better candidates for landing in jail or hospital. The main downsides for introverts are their lower self-esteem and tendency to feel lonely.
What about ambiverts?
Ambiversion is the third personality type that makes up about 40% of people. Ambiverts show equal amounts of intro and extroversion.