Everything You Need To Know About Extroversion

Everything You Need To Know About Extroversion

What is extroversion and does our level of extroversion matter?

If you’ve ever taken a personality test, it probably included an extroversion score. Extroversion is considered one of the “Big Five” personality traits. The other four are agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Researchers believe these five core traits are universal, and they use them to measure individual personality differences (Power & Pluess, 2015).

What Is Extroversion?

The term extroversion was introduced by psychologist Carl Jung in 1921. He used it to describe people who tend to direct their energy outward, engaging primarily with things outside of themselves like people and things.

Today we’ve expanded the term to include behaviors and personality characteristics. Extroverts are typically outgoing, social, assertive, and expressive. Extroverts enjoy interacting with others and feel energized by social interactions. They seek out external stimulation and usually don’t enjoy spending a lot of time alone.

Opposite of Extroversion

We can’t explore extroversion without talking about its opposite–introversion. Especially since researchers agree that extroversion and introversion are on a continuum, with most people having characteristics of both.

In contrast to extroverts, introverts direct their energy inward. They tend to focus more on their inner world of thoughts and ideas, spending time in introspection, rather than focusing on things outside themselves. Most of us tend toward one end or the other, but few people are exclusively extroverted or introverted. You may also have come across the term “ambivert” to describe someone who falls pretty much right in the middle.

Introversion is not the same as shyness. Shyness indicates discomfort with social interactions or worry about social judgments. While introverts usually have a lower need for social interactions, they don’t necessarily feel anxious in social situations.

In addition, introverts are not anti-social, and most do value social connection and support. It’s just that they prefer to connect individually or in small groups and need more downtime to recharge afterward. After a large social gathering, they may feel drained, while an extrovert feels energized.

“In an extroverted society, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that an introvert is often unconsciously deemed guilty until proven innocent.”
― Criss Jami

Extroversion Test

Here are some questions that help determine your level of extroversion. You might agree with these in you’re an extrovert:

● I am the life of the party.

● I feel comfortable around people.

● I start conversations.

● I talk to a lot of different people at parties.

● I don’t mind being the center of attention.

Indicators of introversion:

● I don’t talk a lot.

● I keep in the background.

● I have little to say.

● I don’t like to draw attention to myself.

● I am quiet around strangers.

Extroversion Bias

Extroversion bias is our society’s preference for extroverts over introverts. This is especially true in Western culture, where extrovert traits like outgoingness, charisma, and assertiveness are highly valued (Lawn et al., 2018). This may leave many introverts struggling to adapt or trying to change their personalities. A quick Google search on “extroversion” results in an abundance of articles on ways introverts can become more extroverted. But articles on becoming more introverted?…. not so much.

This bias can be seen in schools and the workplace. For example, college courses often require participation in each class and even make it a big chunk of your grade. This obviously favors extroverts who have a much easier time speaking up and are more comfortable drawing attention to themselves.

Extroversion Bias In The Workplace

At the workplace, one study found that extroverts are more likely to get hired by elite companies (Rivera, 2012). This is because people hiring positions tend to favor candidates that are “culturally similar” to themselves. These cultural similarities include hobbies, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Since most managers and supervisors are extroverted, they are attracted (maybe subconsciously) to candidates that are like themselves. This is especially the case during interviews, where personality and self-presentation style are more apparent. When deciding who to hire, managers even gave more weight to cultural similarity than qualifications or productiveness. They’re looking for someone who will “fit in”.

Are Extroverts Happier?

Many studies show a connection between extroversion and happiness (Pavot et al., 1990). But why?

Social Support

The correlation between extroversion and happiness may be due to other factors that are connected to extroversion such as social support (Tan et al., 2016). Researchers have found that having strong social relationships is the most important factor contributing to happiness (Saphire-Bernstein & Taylor, 2013). So since extroverts engage in more social behaviors, this may contribute to higher levels of happiness. Even small things like striking up a casual conversation with the grocery store clerk has been shown to increase feelings of well-being (Martela & Ryan, 2016).

Bias

Another reason extroverts report higher levels of well-being might be our culture’s preference for extroverted personality traits. Because of this cultural preference, extroverts feel like they “fit” better and are more accepted, which leads to higher levels of positive emotions (Lawn et al., 2018). Introverts may feel pressure to change, to behave more like extroverts. However, a study showed that introverts who accept themselves and don’t feel the need to change reported feeling content (Lawn et al., 2018), demonstrating the importance of self-acceptance.

Self-Esteem

With the cultural bias toward extroverts, it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a connection between high self-esteem and extroversion (Vaughan-Johnston et al., 2020). And since people with higher self-esteem report higher levels of well-being, this could be what is contributing to happiness more so than the extroversion itself. It seems like this can become a self-fueling cycle. People that are naturally more extroverted have more social interactions which lead to higher self-esteem which leads to more extroverted behavior.

In Sum

While studies indicate benefits to being high on the extroversion scale, these advantages may be at least partially due to other related factors. Specifically, self-esteem, strong relationships, and our cultural preference for extroverted personality traits contribute. To help reduce bias and increase self-esteem, it’s important to realize there are positive and negative aspects to both extroversion and introversion. The keys are self-acceptance and recognizing the value of both personality types.

References

● Lawn, R. B., Slemp, G. R., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2018). Quiet flourishing: The authenticity and well-being of trait introverts living in the west depends on extraversion-deficit beliefs. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(7), 2055–2075. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-0037-5

● Martela, F., & Ryan, R. M. (2016). Prosocial behavior increases well-being and vitality even without contact with the beneficiary: Causal and behavioral evidence. Motivation and Emotion, 40(3), 351–357. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-016-9552-z

● Pavot, W., Diener, E., & Fujita, F. (1990). Extraversion and happiness. Personality and Individual Differences, 11(12), 1299–1306. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(90)90157-m

● Power, R. A., & Pluess, M. (2015). Heritability estimates of the big five personality traits based on common genetic variants. Translational Psychiatry, 5(7). https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2015.96

● Rivera, L. A. (2012). Hiring as cultural matching. American Sociological Review, 77(6), 999–1022. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122412463213

● Saphire-Bernstein, S., & Taylor, S. E. (2013). Close relationships and happiness. Oxford Handbooks Online. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199557257.013.0060

● Tan, C.-S., Krishnan, S. A. P., & Lee, Q.-W. (2016). The role of self-esteem and social support in the relationship between extraversion and happiness: A serial mediation model. Current Psychology, 36(3), 556–564. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-016-9444-0

● Vaughan-Johnston, T. I., MacGregor, K. E., Fabrigar, L. R., Evraire, L. E., & Wasylkiw, L. (2020). Extraversion as a moderator of the efficacy of self-esteem maintenance strategies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47(1), 131–145. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167220921713