Patty uses advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology in research and treatment for public and private health agencies.
Introvert, Extrovert, or Both?
Are all people either introverts or extroverts? Can they be a little of each at times?
Two of the finest examples I can give of an introvert that appears extroverted are comedian-writer Steve Martin and talk show host Johnny Carson.
I think their lives have combined the best of both sides of the equation and each has been able to call up extroversion when needed or wanted. In fact, some extrovert discussion groups claim that Steve Martin as an extrovert.
This brings me to the notion of labels.
While I hesitate to place people into labeled boxes, it is true that most individuals tend to lean toward the qualities or characteristics of either introvert or extrovert. However, I have heard conversations in which it was said that extroversion is good and introversion is undesirable; I think that concept is a myth that is harmful and inaccurate.
Introvert and Extrovert
The hilarious antics of Steve Martin on TV's "Saturday Night Live" and in comedy concerts show extroversion, but his serious manner of performing and discussing art and literature, and his excellent banjo playing with the Steep Canyon Rangers show the opposite. In television interviews, he is supremely serious about art and culture and presents a powerful force.
A Range of Behaviors
Some introverts may have shyness; others are simply examining their lives and exercising profound intuition. Some extroverts are gregarious and good leaders, others may represent the temporal characteristics of the unloaded wagon rolling along a cobblestone street - loud and empty.
At any time point, either "type" may be less introverted or extroverted than the day before and labels may prevent them from being themselves. I believe that people are often Mostly-Introvert or Mostly-Extrovert and that extreme or prolonged stress (e.g., catastrophe, disaster, illness, long-term job stress) can cause a person to migrate to the far end of the scale.
I believe that this is a reason that the assessment tool called the IPAT 16 Personality Factor test is laid out as a series of scales on a continuum for each personality trait that span Introversion to Extraversion, from Thinking to Feeling, etc. Think of the well-known "On a scale from 1 to 10..." survey answers. A 1 would represent a personality description, while a 10 would represent it's opposite; but neither would be good or bad. In other surveys, a 1 means you don't like something at all, and 10 means you like it most of all, so the scales can be confusing.
At any time point, either 'type' may be less introverted or extroverted than the day before and labels may prevent them from being themselves.
A Continuum of Personality Traits
The personality (behaviors) we display are somewhere along these scales and on certain days and in specific circumstances they will likely register at a different point. One cannot stop the flow of a trait along a continuum any more than one can stop the blood pressure of a patient in order to measure it.
In my opinion, personality traits are all continuous measures, because they are all behaviors and behaviors can change. As in state-trait anger and anxiety, I personally think all of these other personality factors can occur as a one-time response (state) or as a more permanent part (trait) of one's overall personality repertoire.
There are also likely more than 16 personality traits, nothing inherently good or bad about any of them. If a person wants to migrate a little toward the other end of the continuum for a particular trait, they can probably learn to do so, at least part of the time and part of the way. I think that flipping from one end all the way to the other is usually not going to happen, however.
Balance of Opposites
We can consider the notion that opposites balance:
- Think about the concept of opposites like the Asian concept of yin and yang (I think of them as the positive and negative of electric current).
- Place that concept of opposites into a sphere that is divided down the center by a transparent wall having a small opening in it.
- The opposites may flow, reaching into and partially filling the space of the other, even crowding it; but, balance is the goal we may want to achieve and may never fully attain. That can be true for introversion and extroversion.
We then have a flow that is like the "string of pearls" concept -- Life events flow one into the next. Historic events - the passing of days - behave similarly.
The process repeats throughout an era like a continuing set of circles or even a spiral. There is actually a theory of history repeating itself according to fractal equations. But it all flows.
Our balance changes each minute, but our time flows forward. Life flows as energy flows (the body produces electricity to function and functions, producing electricity - another circle). In my opinion, without positive and negative, there would be no life, thus no chance for introversion and extroversion. An introversion and extroversion are opposites, but connected.
Examples of Famous Introverts
- Johnny Carson
- Albert Einstein
- Bill Gates
- Jane Goodall
- U.S. Grant
- Steven Hawking
- Sherlock Holmes (fiction)
- Steve Martin
- Isaac Newton
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
- Mr. Spock (Star Trek)
Life events flow one into the next. Historic events - the passing of days - behave similarly.
String of Pearls Continuum
Our balance changes each minute, but our time flows forward.
Personality Testing for Job Matching
Aside from all this, introversion is defined by a variety of dictionaries (and Carl Jung) as being withdrawn, reclusive, and reticent; but able to attend to details and concentrate with great intuition. Usually, shyness is somewhere in the definition. Extroversion is then defined as having the qualities of gregariousness and assertiveness, with the adjectives outgoing and loud tossed in among leadership qualities.
Some individuals use both introverted and extroverted characteristics to their advantage. For example - I may be extroverted while teaching a class, but am not loud outside class and do not enjoy being around people that are loud in other public settings like libraries, where there is constant noise these days.
On the Meyers-Briggs test, the Kersey instrument (based on 16 personality factors and Carl Jung's work), and similar tests used in the workplace, for self-improvement, and for fun, I have somehow scored equally as two opposite types. Many individuals may show such scoring in the future as our understanding of the human personality deepens and expands.
Online discussion groups exist for the personality "types" and people can join them to learn more about all this. Check the following links and search Yahoo Groups, Google Groups and other sites online.
I would suggest any of the following occupations for individuals that consider themselves introverts.
Some Working Environments Introverts Might Enjoy
Careers and Jobs Suggested for the Mostly-Introverted
- Financial Accountants
- Actuarial Accountants
Acting - (Good for some introverts and not for others)
Air Traffic Control
- Vet assistant, technician, and technologist
- Animal Keeper (zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, pet shops)
- Animal Breeder/Fish Farmer
- Guide Dog Instructor/Animal Trainer
Archeology and Related Careers
- While astronauts must be able to get along together well in close quarters in tight space capsules and space station with limited space, they must also be able to work long hours on individual projects without interacting with others. An extreme example is the stranded man on Mars in the film "The Martian" and another is the astronaut who finds her way back home alone in "Gravity."
- Asteroid Miners in the near future may find it necessary to confront long, tedious work assignments alone, without human interaction or with interaction involving only robots.
Law & Law Enforcement
- Attorneys (non-trial)
- Body Guards (will need to call on their assertive skills from time to time)
- Security personnel, Investigators
- Crime Lab Technologists
Engineering & Technologies
- Information Technology (IT) Careers
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Aeronautical Engineering
- Bio-mechanical Engineering
- Prosthetic Engineering
Fine Arts, Graphics Arts
- Dentistry and Dental Lab Careers (tremendous detail work)
- Other medical/healthcare jobs that require attention to detail and concentration - Surgery is one.
Information Technology (IT) Careers
Inventors & Inventions
Maintenance, Repair and Construction Careers
Mathematics & Statistics
- Research & Development
- Grant Writing
- City Planning
- Landscape Architecture - Parks, college campuses, industrial complexes
- Aerospace Medicine
- Biomedical Research
- Experimental Psychology
- Geography/Map and Chart Makers - Star Charts
- Laboratory work in any science
- Many other science-related jobs, including technicians and technologists
This list will probably give you some ideas for other jobs and careers that would be well suited to your talents, goals, and overall personality and to those of other individuals you may know.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 30, 2014:
Yes, they certainly can!
Plus, I think organizing is often seen as an "introverted" skill, whether it always is or not -- But organizing is a good thing and your profession in Healthcare is very important and needs your valuable skills. Congratulations!
Rabia Saad from East Africa on April 30, 2014:
I'm an introvert and I'm doing Health Systems Management which involves organizing many people and I do it perfect, this shows that introverts can do extrovert's tasks.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 30, 2013:
Freelance writer as Introvert - you may be correct, iguidenetwork.
I think some actors are more comfortable in performing character - To me, Eddie Murphy seemed more at ease in the fat suits used in the Nutty Professor roles. Also, Tyler Perry as Madea.
iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on October 30, 2013:
Referring your introduction, I find it surprising that many people in the entertainment world -- actors, actresses, singers, comedians -- are shy and introverted in real life. I guess they want to retreat into a world of fantasy where they're more comfortable playing someone else than their own selves.
I work at home as a freelance writer, so I think this position is also qualified as an "introvert" job (as I am one myself).
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 19, 2012:
WRONG! - if you're in my large city, you DO have control. AND cops at the door every day, guarding.
IntroV on January 18, 2012:
Please don't recommend library work - esp. public library work.You have NO CONTROL over your clients and have to deal with drunks, addicts, and the mentally ill among other things. It is the very worst job for an introvert, unless you are blessed to work on the technical side of things. But when budgets get tight they very well might pull you to not do those technical things =(
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 14, 2011:
Man, that's funny!
Man from Modesto from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on December 14, 2011:
There are a lot of best jobs for introverts. Mostly, they keep this information to themselves.
Anonymous on September 19, 2011:
I am working in a biotech lab right now. The company is literally 6 people (including me) because it is a young start-up. Our lab is one room, and I share a regular table with two people that sit right next to me. No space or privacy whatsoever. I was thinking about giving up research because I felt like I could not contribute during lab meetings and pick up skills quickly, but now I realize that it is just this particular lab environment. We eat lunch together every single day, which is not a break for me at all. Even though they say it isn't mandatory, they clearly seem put off if you tell them you want to eat alone.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 15, 2011:
You may become less shy after working more in the clinical setting with clients. No need to always be bubbly - you might be seen as more caring and intuitive, more understanding and kind perhaps. Be yourself and develop as you will on the job.
Sally on September 15, 2011:
Hi Patty. I am a painfully shy, quiet and reserved person and this makes me feel self conscious and awkward. I am training to be a veterinary nurse.Other veterinary nurses are really bubbly and outgoing so I am confused. I see myself as introvert and them as extrovert. I do wish I could be more like the others but I can't pretend to be something I'm not.
hazelbrown from Central PA on July 11, 2011:
Thanks for this hub, I really liked it! I have always considered myself an introvert, though I am pretty good at meeting new people and at smalltalk. It just exhausts me after a while. Because I am introverted, I thought I would be too self-conscious to be a teacher, but I found out that not only do I like teaching, I don't get nervous while doing it! I'm so glad to see that not everyone thinks that introverts are shy, quiet, and awkward! :)
TheMonk from Brazil on July 05, 2011:
"Fine Arts, Grapics Arts" and "Information Technology (IT) Careers"
That is all me, right there! lol
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 23, 2011:
Some individuals undertake change for survival and if surviving, then for success within a society. Under times of stress, some behaviors can regress to the last most-mature or last-trained level - like sending a computer back to its status before a problem occurred. Examples are bed-wetting, losing one's temper loudly, speaking without an accent in a film production, and others.
The public is divided by the opinions of "people change" and "people don't change" - I think it is a case-by-case reality that cannot be generalized.
haikutwinkle on April 23, 2011:
I ponder on the words - "behaviors can change"
I have also wondered when people say "people don't change"
Do they mean "instincts don't change"?
People carry with them certain characteristics/habits from childhood and some of those habits tend to stick with them for a lifetime. Some are lucky to have met a few willing mentors and received valuable guidance/advice. Some do not have such opportunities in their lives but they did turn out alright on their own (though some did not).
Every encounter (introvert or extrovert) is definitely unique and special.
The Jet from The Bay on April 04, 2011:
Thanks for the cool hub.
cheerfulnuts from Manila, Philippines on March 24, 2011:
I've just written a hub about introverts and extroverts, then I found this. Indeed, there are some Introverts who look like Extroverts, and vice versa. And I agree that you cannot change your personality, but you can learn to be more Extrovert/Introvert. Nice hub!
Bibliophilic on February 27, 2011:
Introverts can be found everywhere- and we definitely don't dislike people (for the most part). I currently work as a tutor at my college! Most of my professors identify as introverts. Introverts can excel in all positions but we often enjoy working on our own. Great jobs for introverts; artists of all kinds, writing jobs, library work, teaching, acting(introverts are often better than extroverts!)working with animals and computer programming.
We're often driven to pursue academia and have many solitary hobbies. A long walk alone is refreshing, and participating through online forums can be quite relaxing.
iluvceleb on July 17, 2010:
I thought introvert are only shy and prefers staying at their home. Thanks for the article
Deidre Shelden from Texas, USA on July 16, 2010:
I'm glad for being a Mostly-Introvert to have been able to do some of things I've done in life that I know I couldn't have done were I not. I'm glad to see your hub, Patty, explaining introversion isn't all bad :-). Thank you! And, yes, I too have found there is a balance that is helpful for each individual to seek and maintain. Well put!
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 21, 2009:
Ben - Your writing is lyrical and brilliant. I hope many more people read your words. And thanks for the praises! Labels are usually no good, I've found.
Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on November 20, 2009:
Your writing is so intelligent, I just hold my elbows up to the computer screen and I can feel the knowledge absorb through my skin. Still I decide to read your words anyway, in case my elbows missed a spot. Clearly Patty, your direction helps many lost souls and the world is better for your efforts. I am a rampant extrovert who is at his best in a cloistered and introverted sphere, and I only prefer to fraternize with mixed company. Thanks for tearing at labels, despite society's best efforts, they never fit some of us.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 17, 2009:
Hi sara! - at least you know now. Keep your eye peeled for new job emerging in the next few years and maybe one of those will help you out of your current position. Hating your job is a true horror. My best wishes to you!
sara! on November 16, 2009:
Im introvert to the extreme and I chose a career that turned out to be hellish for me and now am stuck with it!!and am torn between enduring it because I know nothing else will suit me anyway or to start over and hope for the best ?I wish Ive known 6 years ago what I can and cant do !! thanks alots , great work.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 05, 2009:
Thanks for all the comments and input!
Nan - Sales is just to draining for me! Of course I come out Extrovert AND Introvert on personality tests, so they afre just a guideline :)
Nan on November 04, 2009:
I guess that you in the psychological field, because you analyze personalties. The positions classified as introverts work with all of their concretration on what they are doing, and not talking constantly. They don't have a need to express themselves for what ever they are doing. Sales is a highly extrovert and demanding all day long!
Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on November 04, 2009:
Every introvert on HubPages is looking at your post in hopes of finding something helpful. I found my career choices and interests reflected in the introvert career list.
This was a very informative and helpful hub, thank you very much!
Nolen Hart from Southwest on October 12, 2009:
As a bit of an introvert I would say that a jobs involving writing (under a pen name) is the perfect job for introverts. If only I could make enough money doing so.
Sujay on October 12, 2009:
Air Traffic Control for introverts? Most introverts won't enjoy talking to 100s of people in a single days work and being constantly required to call and instruct someone assertively. Just my opinion
parlevous on August 04, 2009:
I think I too would have been a little more extroverted, and my brothers as well, if my folks didn't adhere to the archaic notion that "children should be seen...", and even then, I don't know. I will probably be in therapy for the rest of my life.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 02, 2009:
Thanks for the insightful comments, Santo Palomo. Digital communications certainly also help those that cannot process as quicky in a verbal way. Other understand printed words better than they do when hearing the same words. Many people are irritable these days, too.
Santo Palomo on July 02, 2009:
A fantastic posting. I think there are more introverts these days due to the fact that with the onslaught of electronics we are able to communicate with each other without being physically face-to-face. There is something that can be said about body language and looking into someone's eyes. Communicating well with your family, friends, and peers is very important for future employment. In my line of work I just find too many people internally very irratable about many things affecting their work, social life, and their well being.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 27, 2009:
Survival Mode can bypass a lot of personal quirks and neuroses, as well as some personality characteristics that might not help us to survive during crises.
lindagoffigan from Phoenix, Arizona on April 27, 2009:
Great Hub. I go along with the statement when you wrote that some people are introverted and extroverted. I don't think that an introverted person would stay to himself in time of crises.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 25, 2009:
paula - Without a contract, in my state employers can fire a worker for any reason or no reason. You'd need to consult an attorney for your own state's laws.
Did your employment reviews always come out positive? Did they define perky and tell you how to be perky when they hired you?
It may even be a cover for hiring a younger person, but hard to prove, I think.
paula on April 25, 2009:
I was actually fired from a job because of my personality. I was socail enough and well behaved but they told me I wasn't "perky enough". Is this legal?
ontheway on April 02, 2009:
jobs for the Introverted
it Was very well written, I support you, welcome to my hub
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 07, 2009:
Thanks for your comments, solarcaptain! Cows are good people, in my opinion and you are a good one yourself.
Personally, I was born as an extroverted infant but was quickly "shut up" by adults. However, it still comes out at times.
mike king from california on March 06, 2009:
Absolutely brilliant . Thanks for familiarizing me with the new psychometric tools.
I am very familiar with the Myers-Briggs which has been around since the Roman games.
I wondered if you would bring up the introverted persons who break out and become extroverted at their work. And so you did. I was raised on a farm with few friends or schoolmates so I could best be described as backwards when introduced to the city. I have remained an introvert though always managing placement in extroverted style work. When you are raised with cows I think you crave human contact. At least that's my experience. ( I did have an older sister who hated all males).
Thanks for a job well done, as usual.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 21, 2008:
bill yon - Those two gentlemen have been very talented and you are as we