Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Personalities - Introvert and Extrovert

This is Part 2 of my series on personality traits based upon the Kiersey Personality Sorter. You can check out Part 1 here.

Today I'm going to talk about introverts and extroverts. Frequently people think that introverts are shy and extroverts are not. Sometimes that's true, but sometimes it isn't.

The way to think about the introvert/extrovert traits is in terms of energy.

An introvert isn't necessarily shy. An introvert is simply energized by solitude, while an extrovert is energized by being around people.

Real life examples.

I have a friend who didn't marry until she was nearly 30. She lived on her own in an apartment, but she had a day job where she worked in a solitary office and almost never dealt with people face to face. She's an extrovert, and it really wore on her. In order to get her energy back up, she needed to be with real, live people.

So she got a roommate.

However, the roommate--an introvert--was an insurance person. She dealt with people all day. By the time she got home at night, all she wanted was to go to her bedroom and be alone.

My friend said she felt lonelier with this roommate than she had when she lived by herself.

My professor who taught the class where we learned about the Kiersey shared this experience. She was a therapist for many years and spent her days interacting with people. She's an introvert. By now you know what she needed when she got home. Quiet. Solitude. Time to lay in the bathtub and contemplate the universe.

Enter her younger sister who wanted to share an apartment. Not just an extrovert, but a flaming extrovert.

Anybody see potential problems?

Professor would come home from work, needing time to rejuvenate. About the time she'd just get her stuff settled, her younger sister would arrive at the apartment after work and blast the radio, sing, talk, and want to chat with Professor.

Guess what Professor wanted to do to younger sister?

Obviously, Professor was a mature, intelligent woman, and she didn't act on her impulse. What she did was talk with her sister about being quiet for an hour when she first got home, so Professor had some time to fill her batteries again. Then she'd be happy to talk.

What did younger sister do? Not hang around a silent apartment. She hung out with her friends a little longer before coming home. Win/win.

My score balance for the Kiersey for years was 7 extrovert and 3 introvert. As you can see, it's not like people must be all of one or all of the other. As you consider the description of yourself, you should keep that in mind. Someone who is an extrovert with a 9/1 score would view things a bit differently than an extrovert with a score of 6/4.

Does the energy concept make you look at any of your characters differently?


  1. This is very interesting, will have to go back and read the first part as I missed it yesterday,


  2. Makes sense. I get my moments of solitude when I go to the gym before getting home. Then I'm ready for my extroverted wife to unleash her energy on me.

  3. I've got one major extrovert in my WIP and she's dating an introvert. They're in a doomed relationship and this is one of the contributing factors.

  4. I am absolutely an introvert. I am not sure if you have seen this before, but I LOVED it. It's about 20 minutes, but you can listen if you want - not a lot of graphics to need to watch.

  5. Thanks for clearing this up. When I took the test and came back INFP, everyone who knows me was hysterical. No one would call me an Introvert, but based on this explanation it fits to T. While I can blab on with the best of 'em and be the 'life of the party' in many situations, if I don't get my alone/down time to recharge I turn into one nasty beastie.

    I guess this is what it means by 'moderately expressed introvert'. Ha!

  6. I too am such an introvert--yet shy, I am not. After a hectic day, all I want to do is be alone with a good book. Unfortunately, my family always seems to need me at night to rejuvenate them. I feel the pressure to conform and do stuff with and for them. Then I get frazzled even more, and then comes guilt from wanting my family to leave me alone. Now it makes sense. But how to I let them see that?

  7. Yes! I've been trying to tell my husband (who is an introvert) that introversion isn't bad. It just means he need alone time.

    It's funny becasue I'm always about 50/50 on those tests. Sometimes I need alone time and sometimes I need other people. Maybe that helps me write both kinds of people ;)

  8. This is fascinating. And it makes perfect sense that a person would not be all extrovert or all introvert. I know that I am a combination of both and I have yet to take the test. : )

  9. Yeah there is different layers to each. I like my time to myself but also like going out and about with the right people, would still say more of an introvert though.

  10. I think I'd be a psychologist's nightmare, because I faked the extrovert for so many years that I kind of became one. Now, I'm finally getting the balance back into my life! Great post Donna!

  11. I guess I'm a moderate introvert. I like to be around people, but only after having lots of time to myself. Some of my favorite activities are solitary--read, write, play the harp. but I also love to dance with my husband. A parties, I tend to stick with someone I know and I prefer smaller groups rather than larger ones. But I definitely need time to talk with other adults and I thrive on girl talk.
    I don't think it occurred to me to write these traits into my characters, but most of my heroines are on the introverted scale. Hmmm. Maybe it's time to shake that up a bit.
    Thanks for the great post.

  12. I'm an introvert and my husband is an extrovert. We have a discussion about this a lot, especially when it comes to going to do something with friends or hanging out at home. :)

  13. I think I am mostly an extrovert, but I need my time alone occasionally

  14. It is fascinating to think of our characters this way - you prompted me to do that, so thank you!

  15. So true! I can turn it on when I have to--make speeches, perform solos, etc.--but I'm a loner at heart. I need time to recharge. :)

  16. I'm totally an extrovert. I need people to charge my batteries or I'm only half alive all day. But I balance my wife who tends to be more introverted. It is a lovely way to live, to go out and gather energy to spend the best of my time with her. :D

  17. veddy interesting!

    you make me think of my mc who used to be mostly extro then inverted and in the story is coming back around =)

  18. When I finally figured out I was an introvert my life changed. It was so liberating to finally understand why I had such a hard time in my husband's extroverted family. It explained a lot about me and why I am the way I am.

  19. The first hour or so of my day is my 'wake-up' time. In truth, I'm perfectly awake, I just don't want to talk. I think this helps me understand why.

  20. This is definately food for thought with our characters. Keep these postings coming.


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