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Differences between Extrovert, Introvert, and Ambivert.

Updated on January 8, 2020
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa Schlesinger developed an interest in human behaviour and ethics while studying anthropology at the University of South Africa in 1975.

There is a common belief that an introvert is a shy person who doesn’t make friends easily and an extravert is a person who has good social skills and is not shy. These are not the deciding factors for introversion and extraversion. The core difference is that introverts derive fulfillment from their thoughts, imagination, and creativity while extraverts derive their satisfaction and fulfillment from other people and things, i.e. external to themselves. Another way of saying this is that introverts derive their energy from inside themselves and extraverts derive their energy from outside themselves. There are other differences between the introvertext and extravert...

Before proceeding, I would like to point out that American spellcheckers spell the word 'extrovert' incorrectly. The word is EXTRAvert meaning outside oneself while INTROvert means inside oneself.

Human faces may hold more meaning for socially outgoing individuals than for their more introverted counterparts, a new study suggests.
Human faces may hold more meaning for socially outgoing individuals than for their more introverted counterparts, a new study suggests.

Extraverts speak; Introverts think.

Introverts are turned inward in their thinking processes. They evaluate what they think and feel and are not concerned with what other people think and feel about something. Extraverts are concerned about what other people think and feel and will not make a decision if it goes against the status quo. This is one of the reasons the sales pitch ‘Everybody is doing it’ works so well when selling something to an extravert. An introvert is more likely to say, ‘so what?’ and evaluate whether it is good for the environment, good for the country, good for the individual, and/or use other measuring criteria. Extraverts evaluate information by looking at what other people are doing or saying. So, for instance, when a political candidate gets an endorsement from another high power or popular individual, extraverts will pay attention to this and take it into consideration; introverts couldn't care less.

Characteristics of Introverted people

Introverts are creative, diligent, and guard their privacy. They have a group of close friends with whom they enjoy a closer level of intimacy than extroverts do with their friends. A recent study on introversion revealed that introverts have difficulty in differentiating between expressions on an inanimate object and a live human face. The study suggests that this is the reason introverts don’t have much of a desire for the company of others and has nothing to do with a lack of social skills. This is also probably why introverts tend to go more for the character of a person than the looks of a person.

Increasing studies have also shown that it is the work of introverts that tends to produce successful products and inventions. Introverts love quiet, peace, discussion and conversation in small doses, and an absense of stress and too much action.


Characteristics of Extraverted people

Extraverts love being in crowds and derive their enjoyment and energy from other people. They are happier than introverts and research shows that the brains structure of extraverts allows for more sensory input than that of introverts. Their sense of smell, taste, sights, touch, and sound tends to be more intense than that of introverts. Interestingly, a recent study showed that extraverts tend to read facial expressions more accurately than introverts. Extraverts socialize more and spend more money on everything. Extraverts love constant change and adventure. Extraverts function best when there's a lot of stimulation around them. They love crowds, discussion, debate, argument, noise, and where the action is constant.

Because extraverts are more people orientated, they can tend to be more nurturing and more sensitive to others. They, therefore, do well in the people professions.

Extraverts do extremely well in America but are not highly respected in the east (China, Japan, and other countries) where introversion is held up to be the highly desirable attribute.

Extraverts are also more popular than introverts, have many superficial acquaintances, a largish number of friends that are 'not so close,' and fewer close friends. Extraverts make great sales people and extravert consumers are easily sold. Politicians also tend to fall more frequently into the extraversion field.

Greatest introverts and extraverts according to Time magazine.


Myths and misconceptions about introverts and extraverts

One of the myths currently doing the rounds is that Introverts 'speak' inside themselves (i.e. think) and extraverts 'think' aloud (talking) This is not true. It's not possible to think and talk at the same time. Try resolving a complicated math equation while having a complex conversation simultaneously. It's not going to happen.This line of thought comes from a professor (she was probably an extravert who didn't appreciate being told that she didn't think as deeply as an introvert did) who wrote a book about the differences between extraversion and introversion. It is, however, just her opinion, and it does not come from the way Myers Briggs and Carl Jung originally defined introversion and extraversion.

It takes time to think things through thoroughly and this means less time spent interacting with other people. Subsequently, introverts tend to have far deeper insights into life than extraverts do. The moment one opens one's mouth, one puts less attention on one's thoughts. The brain does not think deeply when it is talking. When one is talking, one is generally drawing on information one has already thought about. If one is spends more time talking then thinking, one is probably an extravert!

For a while now, there has been the idea that extraverts are more successful than intraverts. Again, not true. While both groups have their successes, introverts tend to be more successful in creating, discovering, and inventing while extraverts tend to be more successful at political leadership. Introverts tend to be more successful at being CEOs while extroverts tend to be more successful at sales.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

Famous Introverts and famous extraverts

Some famous extravert politicians and business gurus include Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin, Phil McGraw, Anthony Robbins, and Donald Trump. You will note that none of them are particularly deep thinkers! They do, however, do incredibly well in relating to other people and convincing other extraverts to follow them.

Introverts are more likely to be gifted than extraverts. Famous introverts in this category include Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Goodall. And did anybody know that both Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela are introverts? About half the population is extravert and the other half introvert

Everybody has some introversion and some extraversion characteristics

Nobody is completely introvert or completely extravert. One can be introvert when it comes to work and extravert when it comes to family. One can be introvert in one’s religious beliefs but extravert when it comes to sports. That’s why when one does tests, it will give a percentage, e.g. 54% extravert and 46% introvert. I am 52% introvert and 48% extravert. You can find out what your percentage is by doing tests that measure this.

Extroverts vs Introverts MBTI Myers Brigss

Do extraverts make better leaders?

Studies show that extraverts are more frequently elected and selected as leaders than introverts in America (In the east, it's introverts). However, before we say that extraverts make better leaders than introverts, let's look at what leadership is.

Amongst mammals, one in twenty has the brain chemistry of leadership. Yes, that's right. Leadership is a physiological trait! The brain chemistry of leaders mean that they can withstand many stressors that followers can't. For instance, leaders can drink more alcohol and not get drunk or can remain calm in dangerous situations where followers panic. A leader is the person who can work out and determine a path for others, something that involveds thinking and daring to go where no man has dared to go before!

The above qualities are those of introverts, not extraverts. However extraverts have one vital quality that makes them preferred leaders. They are communicators! Leaders need to be able to communicate with followers and convince those same followers that they should, indeed, follow! The ideal is probably someone with a 50% introvert and 50% extravert score.

Followers are different to leaders in that they follow the loudest and most frequent voice. They tend not to link about the capacity to lead so much as respond to the loudest noise, the most frequent action, etc.

To quote from Forbes magazine "In her great new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain takes on the commonly held view that extroverts, not introverts, make the best leaders and effectively demolishes it. Cain argues that over the past century there has been a shift in society, from a culture of character to a culture of personality."

Ambiverts - when you're half way between an introvert and an extrovert!


Ambiverts are people are share about half the qualities of an introvert and half the qualities of an extrovert. To know this, you would have to do a test and see what your scores are. If you are 48% one and 52% the other or 50% of each, it's safe to say that you are an ambivert!

Are you an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert?

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I shouldn't have to say this, but there is a place in the world for introverts. Show me the ten most innovative minds of the 20th Century and I will show you ten introverts. From Einstein to Wittgenstein, not one of them could carry a conversation if
I shouldn't have to say this, but there is a place in the world for introverts. Show me the ten most innovative minds of the 20th Century and I will show you ten introverts. From Einstein to Wittgenstein, not one of them could carry a conversation if | Source

Introvert and Extravert Socials skills are the same

Both introverts and extraverts can have outstanding social skills (or not) and both groups love to be with a small group of friends and relate well when with close friends. When someone is unable to make friends, this has nothing to do with whether they are an introvert or an extravert. It has more to do with shyness, other emotional issues, or lack of social skills. Both introverts and extraverts can be excellent public speakers. By the same token, many world famous performers are introverts. Did you know that Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, George Lucas, Christina Aguilera, Enya, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steve Martin, Eminem, Steven Spielberg, and Billy Joel are all introverts? In the world of the famous performer, extraverts include Eddie Murphey, Robin Williams, and Tom Hanks. What is more interesting is the fact that while there are many lists on the web that depict famous introverts, very few depict famous extraverts. There possible explanation for this is that introverts are more likely to do the writing than extraverts!

Both introverts and extraverts are needed

Depending on whether one lives in the west or the east, either introverts or extroverts are given preference. If you search on youtube, for instance, there is a video from India in which the presenter says that extroverts cause chaos. Simply not true. You have to give all the credit for buzz at parties to extroverts! Introverts provide research, logic, invention, etc. Extroverts provide caring, communication, and more. Ideally, we would all have more or less equal parts of extraversion and introversion (ambiverts), but generally we have more of one than the other, and these are physiological traits - not something we can change (although we can improve). It's best simply to work with our strong points, and each type has strong points.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger


Submit a Comment
  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    4 years ago

    Shadow, real thinking takes months and years. One can process information while one is talking. That is not the same as thinking. In depth thinking cannot be done while one is talking.

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Actually, the difference between extrovert and introvert are only where they draw energy, and I know some introverts more talkative than extroverts. INFJs especially can seem extroverted, as we ENFPs can seem introverted. But, I guess we're the ambiverts. The think vs speak thing, however, isn't right. That has to do with functions, introverted vs extroverted thinking, to be exact. Where introverted thinkers such as ENTPs pull a fact from their heads, spit it out, pull out a fact, explain, etc, extroverted thinkers process by speaking. That's why you see us talking to ourselves more, moving our hands, getting more animated, because that's when the ideas really start connecting. INTPs, for example, like to plan out things in advance and try to steer things towards that direction. I actually asked one of my INTP friends about this after hearing that, and he confirmed.

    It's true that we both speak and think at the same time, but it's the difference you see up above that's more about the function. Yes, it's far more common to be seen that way, and can be observed, but down to the bottom of it, the E and I are very misleading.

    There are introverts with extroverted thinking. It also has to do with function order, upbringing, and also the function above and below.

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    4 years ago

    Peachpurple, strangely enough, I never used to be, but I am now. :(

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    4 years ago

    cygnetbrown, you just made me laugh. Of course. It didn't occur to me. Duh! :(

  • peachpurple profile image


    4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    thanks for the good elaboration, those introverts are very quiet people, aren't they

  • cygnetbrown profile image

    Cygnet Brown 

    4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

    Good Article. Just to let you know, we Americans do not spell incorrectly. We just spell differently. We like our independence from the Mother Country. That said, I am an introvert.


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