We often think of people as being either outgoing or reserved, and may assume that everyone belongs in one category or the other; either the life of the party, or the wallflower. But in truth, there are far more than just these two personality types. Instead, many of us exist somewhere between these two extremes of extroversion and introversion.
This middle ground is often called an introverted extrovert (or an extroverted introvert). Essentially, these people are both social and introspective at the same time, to varying degrees.
Depending on the person, you may be more or less introverted or extroverted depending on your circumstances, mood, or setting. For example, some people who are introverted have excellent social skills and enjoy hanging out with friends, but may be generally more quiet and less outgoing than typical extroverts. On the other hand, some highly social people may enjoy their alone time as well.
In this guide, we explore what it means to be an introverted extrovert, how you can tell if you are one, why it matters, and how being an introverted extrovert may benefit you. Learn more about this common personality type.
Influential Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung popularized the concepts of introversion and extroversion as part of his exploration into the various facets of human personality.
Jung defined a social introvert as one having an inward flow of energy. Extroverts, on the other hand, had an outward energy flow. Essentially, introverted extroverts have both. In other words, they can enjoy, seek, and recharge from being alone and from being with a few friends.
However, before we delve into introverted extroversion specifically, let’s look closer at the characteristics of pure introverts and extroverts. This is important as introverted extroverts display signs of both of these traits.
Characteristics and personality traits of introverts
Introversion is a personality type that thrives on internal thoughts and feelings, also called your inner life, rather than on socializing or stimulation from the world around you.
Introverts are typically described as being shy, introspective, reserved, withdrawn, and/or less interested in socializing, particularly in large or unfamiliar circles, ones that don’t include their closest friends. At work, they may be less inclined to network, take on leadership roles, or pursue projects that require a lot of talking in larger groups, such as giving presentations.
Not everyone in the introverted camp is the same, but the vast majority tend to be quieter, especially in new or larger groups and unfamiliar settings. They wouldn’t be the social butterfly at a networking event, for example, but instead someone that sought out quiet and familiar spaces and routine in order to efficiently focus. They prefer to give their full attention to what they’re doing.
Socially, introverts may be less enthusiastic about small talk, big parties, and casual dating, and instead prefer spending time engaging in more meaningful conversation. This is not to say that introverts necessarily dislike socializing. Instead, they just thrive on time alone, as well, particularly to recharge after being with others. Introverts find this introspective time soothing, restorative and invigorating.
Possible benefits of introversion
Benefits of being introverted may include the ability to spend time focusing more on analytical, practical, substantive, and observational skills, rather than on social interactions or being in the spotlight. Introverts tend to think before they speak and consider the larger picture rather than just what’s right in front of them. Essentially, they gain energy and balance from this inward reflection.
Introverts are also known to process their experiences and thoughts differently than extroverts. They tend to learn by watching and taking everything in. They may be especially attuned to notice things and make connections that extroverts, who may be more in the moment, may miss. Introverts also tend to be self-aware and use time alone to reflect, refocus, and process.
Possible drawbacks of introversion
Introverts are sometimes derided for their “shyness,” which can come off as disinterest or rudeness. However, often it is awkwardness or simply comfort in silence or solitude that leads them to be misunderstood. A few things outgoing introvert own personality
They also may enjoy talking and socializing with others, but just not do it as often as extroverts—and may crave time alone to balance social experiences. They don’t tend to be outwardly exuberant or gregarious, so they may have a harder time connecting or sharing their feelings with others.
Characteristics of extroversion
Extroversion is a temperament that focuses on external forces, interactions, or stimulation. Generally, a personality test might indicate that extroverts can come off as more friendly, outgoing, talkative, leaders, and energetic.
They are known to have lots of friends, make friends easily, and have full social lives. These people tend to be the class president, the project leader, the one to make the plan, and the head of the PTA or any other group that needs someone to take charge.
Extroverts love to connect people. They chat up strangers, who often quickly become their friends, wherever they go. Ultimately, they end up jazzed, rather than zapped, by socializing and being around other people.
Possible benefits of extroversion
Let’s face it, extroverts are also often considered more fun than introverts. Extroverts tend to feel very comfortable and alive in social settings. They seek out other people, and are able to recharge, relax, and thrive by putting their attention on the outer world and these social interactions.
Those with extroverted tendencies tend to be highly verbal, talking out problems or their thoughts. They are likely to be brave socially, less inhibited, and more willing to take risks. Extroverts are also highly adaptable in their thinking and more fluid with their needs for routine, schedules, and the familiar. They tend to be all or nothing, and often lean toward positivity. They thrive on excitement, collaboration, and conversation.
Possible drawbacks of extroversion
While extroverts tend to thrive with lots of social interaction, they may bore easily when alone or in less stimulating surroundings (or company). They may seek stimulation both socially and through activity, which can become a negative if they take these drives too far.
Too much stimulation can lead to distraction or a lack of focus. The inclination to pursue something that’s new, adventurous, exciting, or challenging, which certainly can be a plus in many contexts, can also lead to excessive or dangerous risk-taking.
What is an introverted extrovert?
Essentially, an introverted extrovert (or outgoing introverts) have a significant overlap of characteristics from both sides of the spectrum. And while some people do exist solidly in the introvert and extrovert categories exclusively (along with the behaviors they gravitate toward), research shows that many of us live on the continuum between them.
This middle ground is where we find introverted extroverts (also spelled extraverts). Note that intro means “inward,” extra means “outward,” and vert means to “turn.” So, while most introverts turn inward and most extroverts turn outward, the introverted extrovert turns both ways. This is why they’re also called ambiverts or omnivert (ambi = both, omni = all)
Ambiverts may have a robust social network and enjoy time with friends, but they also seek time alone or in small groups. Some may exhibit more introverted tendencies while others lean more toward extroverted behaviors. Overall, someone defined as an introverted extrovert can enjoy and reenergize from time alone as well as from time with others.
Additionally, a person’s tendency toward one extreme or the other may change quite a bit depending on a variety of factors. For example, an introverted extrovert may feel drained or revived by socializing or solitude in different circumstances, like after work they may relax by being alone, while on the weekends they recharge by going out with friends.
Introverted extrovert vs. extroverted introvert: What’s the diff?
These are people who are generally introverted but also have extrovert qualities. Similarly, extroverted introverts are extroverts who also exhibit an inward focus.
This distinction may be slim or large depending on the person. As noted above, the direction you go (as in more toward extroversion or introversion) may vary based on many factors, such as stage of life, personality, mood, where you are, and who you’re with.
Essentially, which way you lean, boils down to your personal preferences, your comfort level, your coping skills (as in how well you cope with any discomfort you experience either when alone or in groups), your desire to connect, your desire to focus inward, how you respond to the stimulation around you, and your motivation to socialize.
Are all introverted extroverts the same?
Just like all introverts and extroverts are not exactly the same, those with both characteristics are also unique. The extroverted and introverted traits that each ambivert has combine to make up their own personal version of introverted extroversion.
And just like any set of characteristics, you can look at introverted and extroverted traits (and how they balance each other out) as offering both positives and negatives. Really, it’s what you do with the traits you’ve got that matters.
However, in some ways, research actually shows that the introverted extrovert can embody the best of both worlds, as these people tend to be more adaptable than pure extroverts and introverts and are able to benefit from being both sociable and introspective.
Introversion is not shyness or social anxiety
It’s important to note that introversion is not the same thing as shyness or social anxiety. Moreover, an introverted extrovert is not another way of saying an extroverted person who has social anxiety. Of course, sometimes, a person that is introverted (or an introverted extrovert) also has social anxiety, but these descriptors are not talking about the same thing.
Shyness or social anxiety, which is an extreme form of shyness, is a fear or discomfort (extreme in the case of social anxiety) with socializing or new situations. In contrast, introverted extroverts may simply enjoy being alone and sometimes feel drained by social encounters. Additionally, while research does show that introverts are more likely to have social anxiety, those with shyness and social anxiety can be seen as extroverts, too.
Plus, other introverts actually may truly enjoy socializing and talking with close friends, whether it’s at home, at a coffee shop or at social events. They don’t hate people, it’s just small talk and large gatherings that they may want to avoid. Additionally, introverts don’t typically feel anxious about socializing, they just may prefer introspective activities more.
So, while being an introverted extrovert (or a true introvert) is not a mental health concern, having social anxiety in real life is. So, consult your doctor or a therapist if you feel anxiety around social situations, particularly if these feelings are impeding your life or make you feel uncomfortable, discouraged, or sad.
What it means to be an introverted extrovert
As noted above, being an introverted extrovert combines a variety of characteristics of both temperaments. Know that despite the stereotypes, there truly are big pluses (and potential minuses) to both extroverted and introverted personality types. And that where you land on the introversion-extroversion spectrum plays an influential part in your personality as a whole.
The introversion-extroversion dimension is one area of characteristics measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-administered test that evaluates personality and examines how people think and make decisions. Additionally, a person’s relative extroversion is one of the components of the Big Five model of personality—the other four are openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Like two sides of a coin, being an introverted extrovert may mean you have a less robust social life but you might also prefer it that way. Or you may have a vibrant nightlife one weekend but opt to stay in on the next one.
Introverted extroverts may have scores of buddies or several that they truly adore—or somewhere in between. Remember, whatever feels right to you and helps you recharge and find balance is just fine. There is no magic number of friends or right about to socialize.
So, if you sometimes feel drained by the high energy (and perceived social expectations) of leaning toward your extroverted side, you can always turn back toward more introspective behaviors, and vice versa.
Ambiverts may also be better able to understand both extroverts and introverts, as they can relate to both temperaments. They also have the flexibility to tap into either side of themselves as needed or desired. So, if introverts tend to prefer learning by observation and working independently and extroverts enjoy learning by doing, trial and error, and/or working collaboratively, ambiverts may be adept at all of the above.
How common is this personality type?
The truth is that most of us live in this movable, amorphous space between being an introvert or extrovert. Everyone has some elements of extroversion and introversion, just to varying degrees. In fact, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, well over half the population is ambiverted. However, statistics vary on the exact percentages of people that can be categorized as introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.
Still, numerous studies have found that those with extroverted personalities outnumber introverts, potentially by a factor of around three to one.
Moreover, research shows that those in the middle make up the majority, with one 2016 study putting 70% of people in this camp.
Introverted and extroverted tendencies are not static
Childhood introverts may grow into extroverts in adulthood. The reverse may also be true. Additionally, people may be very extroverted in some contexts, say at work or in the company of dear friends, but be more reserved when in a new group or when learning something new, such as a job, hobby, or sport. However, once they get acclimated, say after getting to know people better or gaining confidence, they may become much more outgoing.
Some people also find that as they age, their need for solitude as well as old worries about being accepted, looking good, or doing well may slip away as they discover that they care less about what people think. They also may feel more confident about themselves and their skills and abilities, making them more comfortable and excited about socializing.
Additionally, they may have built up their social networks to include more people whose company they feel replenished by. Having children often pulls people out of their comfort zones, too. Kids (or pets, for that matter) become a very easy, natural, and often joyful way to interact with others, which may prompt some people to become more outgoing.
Likewise, some people who were very extroverted in childhood or young adulthood may find they have less desire to socialize as they age. These people may become more contemplative and/or more selective about how they spend their time. They also may find that socializing has become less rewarding and more depleting. These changes may lead their behavior toward becoming more introverted.
Why it matters to know if you’re an introverted extrovert
It’s helpful to know where you land on the introversion-extroversion spectrum. Self-knowledge and self-acceptance are keys to finding well-being and making the best choices for your life. Honoring your preferences, instincts, and the direction you lean, can help you align your lifestyle and goals to your personality type, making you happier and more successful.
Additionally, as you begin to recognize your personal balance of introversion and extroversion, you can make the most of the skills you have—and choose to work on any that may be lagging. You’ll also begin to understand why you may crave to spend your time one way or the other. And you’ll know to have effective coping skills at the ready when you need to step out of your comfort zone.
Introverted extroverts can enjoy social interactions as much as a night in. They also may recharge from both an internal or external focus. Additionally, studies show that introverted extroverts often have distinct career advantages, particularly in fields like sales or medicine, where friendliness and communication is as important as being in tune with others.
Ambiverts often benefit from a balance of extroversion and introversion that may include excellent people skills, charisma, adaptability, observation skills, and introspection.
And introverted extroverts are in good company, as most of the population is believed to have this personality type. Essentially, introverted extroverts get to enjoy being in the best of both worlds.
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