Elizabeth Wagele

The Career Within You


Are Introverts More Creative than Extraverts?

Are liking solitude and focusing inward creative gifts?

Posted Feb 18, 2010

My café friends and I, mostly introverts, were discussing where our various kinds of creativity came from recently. Our DNA is probably mostly responsible, but we each pointed to going inside at a young age to get away from a family situation. One man had an abusive father who would ground him for weeks at a time-he would draw when under house arrest and eventually became a successful artist. Another became an attorney and historian-his interest began when interacting with family members became so intense he would lose himself reading newspapers. Another turned to photography for similar reasons. Not only did I love the magic of music almost from birth, but a relationship with the piano took the place of a wished for playmate.

Had we been extraverts, we probably would have reacted differently. The "grounded" kid might have spent his time preparing for activities to do with friends when his father gave him his freedom, for example.

We introverts tend to process things so thoroughly that we feel quite certain about the conclusions we reach. So the guy in my cartoon vigorously defends the tattoo on his arm. He's an ISFJ in the Myers-BriggsTM system (he prefers Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging). Following MBTI theory, he usually keeps his favorite preference, Feeling, hidden and shows his second favorite preference Sensing, including carpentry, to the world. But thankfully this creative carpenter is willing to display his soft-hearted tattoo and challenge anyone who questions it for the sake of this cartoon.

Extraverts show the world their favorite preference. An ESFJ expresses Feeling (the Judging preference) outright, while Sensing (how one Perceives) is secondary. Extraverts are quick, don't spend much time processing information, and tend to mesh with American society, which is 70-75% extraverted and 25-30% introverted. They can be as creative as introverts but since they're not as fond of solitude, they don't lean toward introspection or focusing in depth as naturally as introverts do. Their creativity goes more toward being with other people, doing things out in the world, and the way they lead their lives. Their gifts include social talents, such as the ability to be diplomatic, getting things done in the world, and infectious enthusiasm.

We introverts make good friends for ourselves. Reasons I like being an introvert include: having a relatively relaxed pace so I don't burn out, an inner strength I can count on, being curious so I'm never bored, and being internally stimulated-I always have something to think about. I'm happy playing the piano, drawing, writing, reading, gardening, learning, and investigating to find out what this wonderful life is all about. I find many other activities enjoyable, too, but I don't have to be entertained or with people to feel alive.

When it comes to the health of the Earth, both attitudes are necessary: to oversimplify, introverts can generate new ideas, make plans, and help quietly, while extraverts can implement those plans, think quickly on their feet, and make use of their great energy.

In "The Happy Introvert - A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self" http://www.wagele.com/introvert.html chapters include "Introverts, the Workplace, and the Myers-BriggsTM," "Relationships," "Parenting and Teaching Children," "About Adolescents," "Dr. Carl Gustav Jung," "Creativity," and "Neurology and Personality." My "Happy Introvert" video on YouTube from a book talk I gave is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVBpAd_70cd