What Is Extroversion?

Extroverts—or outgoing, energetic, talkative people—are thought to make up anywhere from half to three-quarters of the American population. Extroversion, as a personality trait, was first proposed by noted psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1920s. The word generally refers to a state of being where someone “recharges,” or draws energy, from being with other people, as opposed to from being alone (known as introversion). As such, people who identify as extroverts tend to search for novel experiences and social connections that allow them to interact with other humans as much as possible. Someone who is highly extroverted will likely feel bored, or even anxious, when they’re made to spend too much time alone.

Though many psychologists argue that extroversion and introversion exist on a sliding scale, and that very few people can be “pure” extroverts, someone’s degree of extroversion is a core factor of their personality and is generally difficult to modify. True extroverts are often considered “the life of the party,” but they can clash with more introverted types, who may find an extrovert’s energy and enthusiasm overwhelming or difficult to tolerate.

The Extrovert's Advantage

Is it “better” to be an introvert or an extrovert? Anyone who identifies strongly as one or the other will likely argue that their type holds the greater advantages—but in reality, there are pros and cons to each. Research has shown that extroverts may be more successful than introverts, particularly in fields such as politics or entertainment; on the other hand, extroversion has also been linked to psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Introversion is often perceived as less socially desirable, and introverts may struggle to form close relationships, but the trait has also been linked to intelligence and giftedness. Recently, some researchers have proposed an “ambivert advantage,” theorizing that ambiverts—individuals who fall near the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale—may be better off overall than those at either extreme.

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