MU Psych Central – Personality

There’s more to us than “intro” and “extro”…

by Dr. Nicolle Mayo, PhD – March 17, 2017

Although we hear the words “introvert” and “extrovert” thrown around as ways to describe ourselves on the temperament/ personality spectrum, there is still more to be understood about these opposing traits.

For one, some students whom I have regular contact with will often identify introversion as a weakness, instead of a cherished and valuable part of them. This is one of the misunderstood areas of introversion. Introverts are often described as shy, quiet, not “people” persons, and asked to “grow out of their shell”, as a means of saying, “socialize more”. Although there are more social and less social introverts, depending on where they fall on the spectrum, many introverts prefer the company of a few close friends to a gathering full of strangers. Many introverts take more deliberation time before they speak, and are much more cautious when making decisions. They tend to more thoroughly contemplate the pros, cons and research all of the information before deciding. Those who are more extroverted can get impatient in this process. Introverts also enjoy solitude over too loud or crowded environments because this can overwhelm them. They do, however, feel energized by a particular activity that really interests them, often times spending hours solely focused on that one activity.

For extroverts, many wrongly assume that they “do not need alone time”, and “are more superficial in nature”. On the contrary, extroverts also need alone time, though less time than introverts do. They also take in more holistic pictures of situations, or people, and can easily tap into the depths of a person or situation through open-ended questions. They find energy in interaction and social life, whether by friends or strangers. Extroverts present themselves more assertively, often living by the “Carpe Diem” mantra. They appear more spontaneous, and comfortable with conflict and competition. This is important because to introverts, this can take the appearance of aggression. Additionally, when in less stimulating environments, they tend to get bored, fidgety, restless, sometimes even exerting physical energy (tapping a pen or pencil) in order to release pent up energy. As such, extroverts are also more likely to take risks because it lines up with the stimulation they crave.

Somewhere in the middle of this spectrum lie ambiverts, those who reap the benefits of both introverted and extroverted tendencies. For the ambiverts of the world, both sides of the spectrum may speak to you in different ways. Find out what these are and use them to your advantage.

It is common within the introverted/ extroverted world to prefer traits opposite of us. In fact, it is not uncommon for many couples to choose a spouse who occupies the opposite side of the spectrum. We find value in others who hold traits that complement us. With this in mind, it is crucial for us to pay attention to how our spouse or significant other is wired. Communicate about these differences and ask what the other person prefers. Then, negotiate and embrace these differences.

MU Psych Central is supported by the Mansfield Psychology Department, which includes Dr. Gretchen Sechrist, Department Chair and Associate Professor, who specializes in Social Psychology, Dr. Brian Loher, Professor, our Human Resource Management specialist, Dr. Francis Craig, Professor, expert in Mind/Body Health, Dr. Karri Verno, Associate Professor, who specializes in Lifespan Development and Forensic Psychology and Nicolle Mayo, Assistant Professor, expert in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Idea/Concept: Dr. Nicolle Mayo, PhD
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Dr. Nicolle Mayo, PhD
Anchor: Dr. Nicolle Mayo, PhD

Produced by Vogt Media
Supported by Mansfield University, Laurel Health

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