Are You Really an Introvert? Extrovert?

October 1, 2014 12:22 PM

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If common stereotypes have anything to say on the matter, it's that introverts are socially awkward loners who abhor large crowds and just don't like people very much. An introvert may not be a particularly friendly or happy person, but hey, at least they're smarter and more creative than the average extrovert. Despite comprising an estimated one-third of the general population, introversion may be one of the most frequently misunderstood personality traits. But the silent revolution of introverts -- catapulted into the spotlight largely by the work of Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking -- is shedding light on the experience of introverts living in a culture that tends to value extroverted qualities like assertiveness and outspokenness over solitude and quiet contemplation. Much of the problem stems from the lack of a simple distinction between introversion and extroversion -- the difference is far more complex than being shy versus outgoing, according to Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. The introversion/extroversion distinction has its roots in Jungian psychology, which views extroverts as being more naturally oriented towards the outside world, and introverts more focused on their own inner world. “The description that introverts seem to relate most strongly to is the idea that Jung presented, that introverts are drained of energy by interaction, and gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction," Dembling tells The Huffington Post. "It seems to be most strongly an energy thing –- where you get your energy and what takes it out of you.” If you're an introvert, you might be used to feeling misunderstood (many introvert children are criticized for not speaking up at school, and grow up being told to "come out of their shells") and having your actions (or inaction) misinterpreted. And if you're an extrovert, there's a good chance that you have a least a few misconceptions about those mysterious quiet types in your life. Click through the slideshow for six of the most common false assumptions about introverts -- and why they're wrong.

Shyness is so often confused with introversion that the two words are frequently used interchangeably -- but in fact, they're remarkably different traits. As Susan Cain pointed out in a Psychology Today blog, Bill Gates is introverted but not shy: He's quiet and bookish, but isn't bothered by what o...

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