A conversation on Friday night.
‘Let’s head to the bars downtown. I heard there will be a massive party. It’s gonna be real fun!’
‘Nah, I’ve got 300 pages to catch this weekend.’
‘Come on, don’t be so discouraging. Two hours, okay?’
‘Um.. I would rather-‘
‘Are you really that shy?
‘I just prefer to be alone. It’s tiring outside.’
Typical introvert and extrovert traits, right?
Introverts are shy and always want to be alone. Extroverts are outgoing.
This is a major misconception of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts think that introverts never come out of their room; while in introverts’ mind, extroverts always stay way out of their room. This is a pure misunderstanding between the two.
What if it is because they have to?
We’ve made it wrong – we’re all hybrids
The origins of the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ can be traced back to as early as 1920s, when a Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined the two terms to contrast between two distinct personality types.
In fact, introversion and extroversion are never two mutually exclusive qualities. More precisely, they are on the two opposite ends of a spectrum. Meanwhile, everyone of us falls on somewhere between the two extremes, only differing by the extent we are more introvert-like or extrovert-like. As Carl Jung put it,
There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.
▲ No one is a pure introvert or extrovert.
We have no choice. Our brains are the bosses.
Introverts and extroverts may behave very differently in people’s eyes. One may think it is just their preference to work like this. Yet, it is actually their brain that makes such a difference. They have no choice but to cope with it.
How are their brains different?
Extroverts are hungry for stimuli, while introverts have much in store
Extroverts appear sociable and always try to be the centre of attention. This is in fact due to their comparatively weaker sensitivity to stimuli.
That’s why they have to proactively seek outer stimuli in order to reach a functional equilibrium for their minds.
Hans Eysenck, a German psychologist, defines extroverts by analyzing their baseline arousal. The result reveals extroverts have a lower baseline arousal. Consequently, they need to be engaged in more thrilling activities to gain satisfaction while introverts, with a higher baseline arousal, are more easily satisfied.
By contrast, introverts are much more sensitive to stimuli. So they opt to escape from stimuli to avoid being overwhelmed. In fact, it is difficult for them to perform normally if they are constantly under the influence of stimuli.
When it comes to recharging, introverts and extroverts seek entirely different ways as expected. Introverts gain energy by being alone while extroverts recharge themselves through social interaction.
Introverts take the long way, while extroverts take the shortcut
Ever wondered why extroverts think and make decisions much more quickly than introverts?
First, it’s because the prefrontal cortex in the brains of introverts is much thicker than that of extroverts. Prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for deep thinking and planning. That’s why introverts are more fond of spending more time on…
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