Introversion and extraversion

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Introversion (introverted) and extraversion or extroversion ( extroverted ) are two opposite poles of a personality trait that is characterized by the interaction with the social environment. According to the terms, introversion describes an inward-facing attitude, while extraversion describes an outward-facing attitude.

Carl Gustav Jung first described this feature in the context of his typology ; the characteristic found its way into other personality theories, e.g. B. von Eysenck's or the five-factor model of personality.

Instead of extraverted (by analogy with introverted ) the term extroverted is often used. Both are recorded in the spelling dictionary, but not intraverted .


“Introversion” is the opposite of extraversion. Introverted characters focus more of their attention and energy on their inner workings. In groups, they are more inclined to passively observe than to act and are often described as quiet, reserved, and calm. However, introversion does not mean being shy . So there are shy extroverts and non-shy introverts.

A striking difference between introverts and extroverts is that the introvert, unlike the extrovert, feels exhausted and exhausted after a long period without time for himself. Therefore, introverted people often prefer a quiet environment, such as a B. their own apartment, libraries, parks, forests, etc. Often introverts also use their weekends and their free time to relax by spending as much time as possible alone or with close friends and acquaintances, depending on the possibility. Contrary to what is often assumed by outsiders, they enjoy this time, because this is the only way they can effectively relax and reflect.

In many cases, the cancellation of parties, refusal of appointments or the failure to contact introverts' friends and acquaintances are mistakenly interpreted as if the introvert is not interested in or indifferent to the friendship or acquaintance. Introverts, like extraverts, seek social contacts, friendships, and ventures, but not to the same extent as others. Introverts tend to avoid overcrowded parties and events, but like to spend a few quiet hours with friends they already know as long as the group is not too large.

Debrah L. Johnson of the University of Iowa showed using positron emission tomography that introverted (and shy) people better circulation and increased activities of the frontal lobe and the anterior thalamus have, that brain regions responsible for memory, problem solving and planning are relevant, while extraverts show increased activities in the temporal lobes , in the posterior cingulate gyrus and in the posterior thalamus, which speaks in favor of greater use by sensory processes. So introverts include more information in problem solving, extraverts think and react faster.


"Extraversion" is characterized by an outward-facing attitude. Extraverted characters find the exchange and action within social groups stimulating.

Typical extrovert traits are talkative , determined , active , energetic , dominant , enthusiastic, and adventurous .


The terms introversion and extraversion were introduced into personality psychology by CG Jung in 1921 . He described them as opposing beings of perception, thinking, feeling and intuition, according to which most people tend to be more inclined to one or the other attitude. The degree of inclination can be very different. Jung speaks z. B. from normal or strongly extroverted or introverted. In analytical psychology, introversion refers to the turning of psychic energy inwards, i.e. away from the outside world. For Jung, extraverted meant facing the outside world, introverted facing the inner world. The term “outside world” is very broad, it contains things as abstract as scientific theories.

The concept of introversion-extraversion was then taken up and further developed by numerous other personality researchers. For Eysenck it is a continuum, a uniform personality dimension instead of pairs of opposites. Eysenck's theory attributes differences to different levels of brain excitability - extraverts seek more external stimuli because they lack internal stimuli - introverts can maintain their optimal cortical arousal level through internal stimuli.

The roots of the comparison go back to various type theories (e.g. Theophrastus of Eresos ). Raymond Bernard Cattell , Joy Paul Guilford or in the German-speaking area Kurt Pawlik have also used this dimension in their theories or measured it using test procedures.

In current models of differential psychology , introversion and extraversion are viewed as a single dimension. By means of personality tests , it is possible to determine the individual position of the test person on appropriate scales. It is one of the Big Five , a five-factor model for the main dimensions of personality.

Further developments

The scale of extraversion and introversion is a core component of the five-factor model , which is now the standard model for describing personality traits .

There and in other models, introversion and extraversion are described as a continuous scale. Accordingly, there is a middle range of people who are not clearly extraverted or introverted. The phenomenon described by this mid- range is sometimes referred to as ambiversion . On the one hand, people with moderate inclination are considered to be ambiverted; on the other hand, people with highly variable introverted and extraverted tendencies. A correlation with the personality trait neuroticism was described for the latter group .

In Eysenck's 3-type model (PEN model), introversion and extraversion form the poles of a continuous scale that is one of the three superordinate personality categories. According to this, the individual excitation threshold of the ARAS determines how much stimulus input is perceived as pleasant. He adopts the associated attribution of properties from the classical theory of temperament . Introversion is assigned to the melancholic and phlegmatic realm, with attributes like reserved, unsociable, rather calm and passive, careful, deliberate, peaceful (phlegmatic). Eysenck's empirical findings also suggest that introverts should be viewed as easily conditioned , who show only slight reactive inhibitions towards external stimuli, i.e. are easily aroused by weak stimuli.

In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and David Keirseys publications, introversion and extraversion are used, with reference to Jung's definitions, as a bipolar, i.e. two-part dimension, in which every person is either on the introverted or the extraverted side.

Doris Märtin's 4-type model (intro-DNA) differentiates between four quiet, introverted behavioral styles: the thoughtful "M-Intros", the highly sensitive "S-Intros", the shy "C-Intros" and the " N-Intros ".


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Extraversion in: Dorsch Lexikon der Psychologie
  2. Introversion in: Dorsch Lexikon der Psychologie
  3. Philip Zimbardo : Textbook of Psychology . Third, revised edition. Berlin, Heidelberg, ISBN 978-3-662-08326-0 , pp. 324 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  4. Brain Activity Differs In Introverts And extroverts, UI study shows. University of Iowa press release, March 29, 1999.
  5. Philipp Yorck Herzberg, Marcus Roth: Personality Psychology . Ed .: Springer VS. 1st edition. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2014, ISBN 978-3-531-17897-4 , pp. 41 .
  6. ^ CG Jung: Psychological types. Rascher, Zurich 1921.
  7. ^ HJ Eysenck, SGB Eysenck: The Eysenck Personality Inventory. In: British Journal of Educational Studies. Vol. 14, No. November 1, 1965. p. 140.
  8. Joshua Wilt, William Revelle: Extraversion. Prepared for the Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior (Editors: Mark Leary and Richard Hoyle).
  9. D. Cohen, JP Schmidt: Ambiversion: characteristics of midrange responders on the Introversion-Extraversion continuum. In: Journal of Personality Assessment. Volume 43 (5), 1979, pp. 514-516.
  10. Doris Märtin: Quiet wins. This is how introverts make themselves heard. In: Campus 2014, pp. 18–38.