What Is Extroversion?

Extroversion, as a personality trait, was first proposed by noted psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1920s. The term generally refers to a state of being where someone “recharges,” or draws energy, from being with other people, as opposed to from being alone, which has become known as introversion. Extroverts—or outgoing, energetic, talkative people—are thought to make up anywhere from half to three-quarters of the American population.

People who identify as extroverts tend to search for novel experiences and social connections that allow them to interact with other individuals as much as possible. Someone who is highly extroverted will likely feel bored, or even anxious, when they’re made to spend too much time alone.

Though many psychologists argue that extroversion and introversion exist on a sliding scale, and that very few people are “pure” extroverts, someone’s degree of extroversion is a core factor of their personality and is generally difficult to modify. True extroverts are often considered “the life of the party,” but they can clash with more introverted types, who may find an extrovert’s energy and enthusiasm overwhelming or difficult to tolerate.

How Do I Know if I'm an Extrovert?

Gaining a better understanding of personality type can help an individual choose a career, manage relationships, and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. How, then, can someone tell if they’re more extroverted or if they skew toward introversion?

Many people, based on a lifetime of experiences and feedback from others, have a good sense of which end of the spectrum they fall. But others may be unsure⁠, especially because it’s possible to feel extroverted in some situations and introverted in others, or to fall closer to the middle of the spectrum.

Online personality tests, while imperfect, may help someone determine if they’re closer to being an extrovert or an introvert. The Big 5 Personality test, in particular, has been scientifically validated and is widely used in research. Anyone hoping to measure their extroversion (or introversion) may find it useful to start there.

Are Extroverts More Successful?

Is it “better” to be an introvert or an extrovert? Anyone who identifies strongly as one or the other is likely to argue that their type holds the greater advantages—but in reality, there are pros and cons to each.

Research has shown that extroverts may be more successful than introverts, particularly in fields such as politics or entertainment; on the other hand, extroversion has also been linked to psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Introversion is often perceived as less socially desirable, and introverts may struggle to form close relationships, but the trait has also been linked to intelligence and giftedness.

Recently, some researchers have proposed an “ambivert advantage,” theorizing that ambiverts—individuals who fall near the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale—may be better off overall than those at either extreme.

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