Introversion and Extroversion
Ever since Carl Yung popularized the terms extroverted and introverted, researchers, employers and academics have been categorizing people as one or the other. At different periods in history, each of these personality traits have fallen in and out of favour, with society displaying a key preference for individuals displaying the characteristics of either introversion or extraversion.
Myers-Briggs personality tests have been conducted on countless job applicants, university students and employees, as companies and individuals seek to understand what makes individuals tick and the best ways to communicate with them and motivate and reward them.
Yet despite all of the talk about introversion and extraversion, there still remains some confusion about these labels. Often, the meanings of the terms are oversimplified. Someone who is labelled as extroverted is often deemed to be energetic and outgoing, while introverts are regarded as shy and quiet.
While these characteristics may often hold true, there is much more to what it means to be an extrovert or an introvert, and one type is not inherently better than the other.
Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer and self-proclaimed introvert, spent years researching introversion for her book on the subject, entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
I had the privilege of hearing Susan speak at a conference for writers and bloggers last summer. Although Susan claimed that speaking to the room of hundreds of attendees was way outside her comfort zone as an introvert, you would never have known it. She was fascinating to listen to, and in a room full of writers she had many people that could definitely identify with what she was saying - myself included.
After listening to Susan speak, I had to buy the book to learn more. Her observations and conclusions about introverts are interesting and enlightening, for introverts and extroverts alike.
Susan Cain - The Power of Introverts - TEDTalks
Writing is something you do alone. It's a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it.
— John Green
In the book "Quiet" Susan presents a fascinating study of the history of the theory behind introversion and extroversion, and examines the ways that society has displayed a marked tendency to encourage "extroverted" tendencies in schools and the workplace. She also demonstrates the important contributions that introverts have made and continue to make, to society, and questions why we don't do a better job of encouraging introverts to harness their natural strengths.
Raising an Introverted Child
Susan Cain has some valuable tips for parents who are raising an introverted child.
Her advice includes cultivating your child's passions, however unique they may be. She also cautions parents that if you have a shy child, to never let them hear you call them shy. As someone who was labelled "shy" all through my childhood, I can completely see the wisdom in that advice.
Introversion vs Extraversion
|Traits of an Introvert||Traits of an Extrovert|
recharges by spending time alone in solitary pursuits; can find interactions with large groups of people draining or overwhelming
gains energy from being around other people; less likely to enjoy spending time alone
tends to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups
tend to be talkative, assertive and outgoing in groups
likely to enjoy careers as writers, composers, artists, engineers
likely to enjoy careers such as sales, politics, criminal law
values self reflection and prefers to think through problems to find a solution
values collaboration and likes to discuss problems to find a solution
Introvert vs Extrovert
Quiet Quiz: Are You an Extrovert or an Introvert - or an Ambivert?
On Susan's Power of Introverts website, there is an online quiz to help you determine if you are an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert. I already knew I was an introvert, and this quiz confirmed how much of an introvert I am. However, reading this book also helped me see the strengths in being an introvert.
I'm an introvert...I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.
— Audrey Hepburn
The verdict on "Quiet"
I really enjoyed this book, and found it to be well-researched and informative. There were lots of real-life examples used throughout the book, which kept it interesting. I thought the chapters on How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type and How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can't Hear Them were particularly interesting, and full of practical advice for both introverts and extroverts.
This is one of those books that I will definitely read again, and would recommend it to anyone who would like to understand and appreciate the qualities of introversion better- either for themselves or for other introverts in their life.
Sir Isaac Newton
Theodor Suess Geisel (Dr Suess)
© 2013 Kathy Sima
Olivia Pellerito on October 22, 2014:
The list of introverts caught my attention. I was in a way inspired to see some of the names on that list. I would consider myself to be an introvert. I've always been shy, quiet and keep to myself. But after reading this, I see that some of the most famous, rich and well respected people are considered introverts. In a sense, it's just another pointless title. People relate it with weakness and being a "bad thing," but great success can come from it.
Sondra Rochelle from USA on August 25, 2014:
Interesting article. I see value in both types of personalities.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on April 19, 2014:
Hi, savingkathy, it is my pleasure to meet you.
I loved this hub because it spoke right at me. Thank you for doing this article. You are an excellent writer.
I have met some Extroverts in my life, and in each case I was uneasy to work with them and I do not know why.
I voted up and away on this hub. Keep up the great job.
I left you some fan mail. And I cordially invite you to check a few of my hubs and become one of my followers. I would love it.
Ilona from Ohio on November 15, 2013:
What's wrong with it? Nothing! Great hub- loved it.
Me on June 01, 2013:
Oh god, I love the John Green quote!
LupitaRonquillo from Colorado on April 18, 2013:
A while back I learned about this book by listening to Susan Cain on TED talks, was quite intrigued by her theory and decided to read the book. The book truly is a winner. Susan has totally "redefined" the introvert, something that's been silently long overdue in this hyped up world of "how to become an extrovert." She shreds apart the details of the introvert, provides solid research on why introverts are not the "misfits" of society and how they should be valued, especially in the workplace. Shyness is the social disorder, not introvertness. Introverts are talented individuals that have a want and need to use their thinking skills over their talking skills. They can empower others and contribute to community, workplace, and society. Part of the problem is that introverts are constantly being encouraged to change, to become what their not. Susan makes a suggestion to "turn the tables" to encourage more introvertism among extroverts. Society prizes the extrovert, the attention seeker, the outspoken. Harvard is based on it. Susan breaks the silence with her no BS, introvert style research. One of the best books I've read! Quiet is a wake up call and a very interesting read for the "solitude seekers" in society.
anndango on April 18, 2013:
I, too, read Quiet. Even though I've always known I'm a classic introvert, Susan Cain's words empowered me and made me realize it's okay to be an introvert. I've always felt marginalized being the introvert that I am. I always wondered what was wrong with me, but now realize there is nothing wrong with me! I love my introvertedness!
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on April 18, 2013:
Great article! I often think that society makes it out that being introverted is not such a good thing. I love my time alone. I love the quiet. I love the independence. Some people may argue that not enough "social interaction" can negatively affect your health. How do you feel about this? Especially now, with the internet connecting us. I think the internet offers us a connection when we want it, and the alone time at once! It's a win-win!
Lisa from WA on April 18, 2013:
This is a really fascinating article. The more research I've done into introverts versus extroverts, the more fascinating I find the subject. At 24 years old, my parents are still telling me that one day I will grow out of being "shy" because they see being an introvert as an adolescent trait. Maybe I should buy them a copy of Susan's book!
Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on April 18, 2013:
I'm an introvert and I'm glad there is research 'out there' which explains the way I feel. For years I though it meant I was somehow substandard. I can fly my flag now......but quietly. LOL
Voted up and shared.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 18, 2013:
According to the quiz I am an introvert.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 18, 2013:
I should read this book as I still cannot figure out if I'm an introvert or not. Some days I feel I am and other days I don't if that makes any sense. I'll go and take the quiz and come back and let you know what what it says.
Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on April 17, 2013:
Great hub! I bought Susans book and totally found myself in it. On her facebook page I sent a short note to thank her....and she sent a note back! I have also bought the book as gifts for others. It is such a relief to know being me is ok. Wonderful Hub, you beat me to it as I was going to do one on this. You did a great job!
LupitaRonquillo from Colorado on April 17, 2013:
Loved the book! Excellent hub!
Joanne M Olivieri on April 17, 2013:
Great hub. I consider myself as an introvert and based on the traits you listed, I fall into all those categories except for my work. I have always been in sales and customer service. I am interested in her quiz so I will be taking that. Wonderful information here and voted up.
Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on April 17, 2013:
Thank you for sharing such wonderful information and Susan Cain. I will come back to get that book as soon as I can. I think that could benefit my personality a great deal.
Audrey Howitt from California on April 17, 2013:
Loved this hub! And so glad that someone is speaking out for us introverts!
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on April 17, 2013:
I love Susan Cain the first time I saw her on TED and I do love her book. Now, I know why I didn't succeed in the sales office - Reading and Writing took over! Lol!
Great hub! Interesting topic! Up +++ and sharing!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 19, 2013:
I find that interesting too! Maybe it's because a lot of writers are on this site, and a lot of writers are introverted?
Thanks for reading and your comments. I hope you enjoy the book if you do read it!
Shasta Matova from USA on March 05, 2013:
It's interesting that 73% of the respondents in your survey said that they are introverts. I'm not sure whether that is because this article is about introverts and they are more likely to read it, or whether most people think of themselves as introverts. I too am mostly an introvert, even though I tested as an extrovert when I took the Myers Briggs test in high school. It is amazing the number of people who think that people who are quiet are afraid or shy. Thanks for the great review. I will have to look for this book. Voted up.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 22, 2013:
No worries, Bill. Funny thing - I thought I had responded to this comment, but I just noticed that I hadn't. Sorry for the delay! I think a very high percentage of writers are introverts by nature. I can't imagine an extrovert enjoying the writer's life very much at all. Thanks for the visit and the comments. :)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 18, 2013:
I'm sorry, Kathy. I would have bet money I had commented on this. I know I read it, but must have gotten called away before I commented.
Well, I am without a doubt an introvert. I have been all my life. I have forced myself out of my comfort level somewhat, but I still lean heavily in the direction of quiet, solitary and introspective. :)
HS Contino from Oregon Coast on February 01, 2013:
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2013:
I hope you enjoy the book Stephanie!
Thanks for your feedback rfmoran. We can't all be time share salespeople... which is probably a good thing!
Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on February 01, 2013:
Good hub on an important topic. I've seen Cain's book on the best seller list for a long time. As a former publisher, some of my most stellar employees were total introverts. They would NOT make good time share salespeople. Voted up useful and interesting
stephanieb27 from United States on February 01, 2013:
I am checking this book out from the library! I love the title and I can't wait to read it!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2013:
I'm so pleased to hear that you found this information helpful, Cat. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!
Catherine Taylor from Canada on January 31, 2013:
I really appreciate this hub and will be sharing it with many. As an introvert I have always felt intense pressure to try to seem "extroverted," because that was better. I am only now beginning to terms with who I am. I look forward to reading this book. Voted way UP!