Jungian Introversion in a Five-Factor World

Trait models of schizoid and avoidant personality disorders.

Posted Oct 21, 2019

Raymond Cattell is one of the founding fathers of the trait perspective in personality psychology. He is widely known for his role in the development of factor analysis, a statistical tool for analyzing the results of psychometric tests. He is one of the most important influencers in connection to the development of trait models of personality functioning within academic psychology. According to Cattell (1950), personality has historically been described using traits, adjectives—for example, sociable—that indicate certain recognizable and recurrent behavioral trends, and types, terms that represent prototypes which indicate more broadly what an individual ‘is like’ (Cattell, p. 5; also, see Livesley, 1987; Wiggins, 1979, for reviews).

Accordingly, isolated, detached, and withdrawn individuals can be conceptualized in terms of (a) traits such as isolated, detached, and withdrawn or (b) types such as schizoid or introvert. Cattell (1950) pointed out that the Hippocratic-Galen and subsequent psychiatric models used types, such as the phlegmatic or introvert/shut-in type of temperament/character to describe personality and psychopathology.

Jung’s Construct of the Introverted Personality

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Cattell (1950) also defined Jung’s concept of the introverted personality type as an example of a continuous type, a set of coherent traits that covary (Cattell, p. 6; also see Furnham 1990, for a review). Jung’s concept of the introverted type (as cited in Cattell, 1950) was defined by the traits of “shyness, reclusiveness, timidity, lack of interest in people, reserve, and aloofness” and considered a continuous type by Cattell because most individuals reportedly possessed intermediate levels of introverted and extraverted traits instead of resembling pure introverted—or its opposite—extroverted types (Cattell, 1950, p. 6).

The notion of a continuous type contrasts with the notion of a species type. A species type refers to a distinct, dichotomous category such as sex (male or female) in which certain features can overlap—(i.e., co-vary)—but each type’s overall pattern of features, called a profile, cannot (Cattell, 1950).  Prior literature (e.g., see Livesley, Schroeder, Jackson, & Jang, 1994) has pointed out that the DSM distinction between schizoid and avoidant personality disorders implied a categorical distinction between continuous types, and therefore, lacked validity.

Toward a Five Factor Model of Schizoid and Avoidant Personality Disorders

The Five-Factor Model of personality (FFM, see Costa & Widiger, 2002; Widiger & Frances, 2002 for overviews also; also see Winter et al. 1998, for a discussion) represents a multi-trait theory because it conceptualizes personality in terms of five universal traits that exist in different proportions across individuals and theoretically comprise an individual’s overall personality structure and functioning. The five traits (factors) have been labeled Openness (O), Conscientiousness (C), Extraversion (E), Agreeableness (A), and Neuroticism (N) (Costa & Widiger, 2002; Widiger & Frances, 2002).

Also called the Big Five, these traits were derived from large-scale factor analyses of adjectives used to describe personality in the English language (see Wiggins, 1996, for a review). Each factor (trait) is comprised of subfactors (called facets); the factors/traits and subfactors/facets are conceptually equivalent to the concepts of types and traits, respectively (Furnham, 1990; cf. Cattell, 1950; see Livesley, 1987, for a related discussion). Isolated, detached, and withdrawn individuals have been conceptualized from this model as low E (high introversion), a factor that consists of the following facets: (a) low warmth, (b) low gregariousness, (c) low assertiveness, (d) low activity, (e) low excitement-seeking, and (f) low positive emotions (Widiger, Costa, & McCrae, 2002, p. 439).

Shutterstock Used With Permission
Source: Shutterstock Used With Permission

The two present-day subtypes of isolated, withdrawn, and detached personality disorders (i.e., schizoid and avoidant) have been conceptualized in terms of distinct five-factor profiles that share overlapping traits but differ in their overall pattern or profile (Widiger, Trull, Clarkin, Sanderson, & Costa, 2002). In this perspective, one subtype of socially isolated individuals has been postulated to be low in warmth, gregariousness, and positive-emotions (low E) as well as low in openness to feeling (low O) and distinguished from socially isolated individuals postulated to be low in gregariousness, assertiveness, and excitement seeking (low E) as well as high in anxiety, depression, self-consciousness, and vulnerability (high N) (Widiger, Trull, & Clarkin et al., 2002).

This conception of a distinction between introverted individuals who are neurotic versus introverted individuals who lack openness to experience was designed to parallel the DSM’s distinction between avoidant and schizoid PDs. Low openness is a feature common to both trait models of schizoid PD as well as to the authoritarian personality discussed in some of my previous blog posts.


Cattell, R. (1950). Personality: A systematic, theoretical, and factorial study. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Costa, P.T. Jr, & Widiger, T.A. (2002). Introduction: Personality disorders and the five-factor model of personalilty. In P.T. Costa & T.A. Widiger (Eds.), Personality disorders and the five-factor model (2nd ed., pp. 3 - 14. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Furnham, A. (1990). The development of single trait personality theories. Personality and Individual Differences, 11 (9), 923 - 129.

Livesley, J.W., Schroeder, M.L., Jackson, D.N., & Jang, K.L. (1994). Categorical distinctions in the study of personality disorder: Implications for classification. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103 (1), 6 - 17.

Livesley, J.W. (1987). A systematic approach to the delineation of personality disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144 (6), 772 - 777.

Widiger, T.A., Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (2002). A proposal for Axis-II: Diagnosing personality disorders using the five-factor model. In P.T. Costa & T.A. Widiger (Eds.), Personality disorders and the five-factor model (2nd ed., pp. 431 - 456. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Widiger, T.A. & Frances, A.J. (2002). Toward a dimensional model for the personality disorders. In P.T. Costa & T.A. Widiger (Eds.), Personality disorders and the five-factor model (2nd ed., pp. 23 - 44) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Widiger, Trull, & Clarkin et al. (2002). A description of the DSM-IV personality disorders with the five-factor model of personality. In P.T. Costa & T.A. Widiger (Eds.), Personality disorders and the five-factor model (2nd ed., pp. 89 - 99. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Wiggins, J.S. (1979). A psychological taxonomy of trait-descriptive terms: The interpersonal domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37 (3), 395 - 412.