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What Is an Introvert? Personality, Characteristics, Type, and More

An introvert is often thought of as a quiet, reserved, and thoughtful individual. They don’t seek out special attention or social engagements, as these events can leave introverts feeling exhausted and drained.

Introverts are the opposite of extroverts. Extroverts are often described as the life of a party. They seek out interaction and conversations. They aren’t one to miss a social gathering, and they thrive in the frenzy of a busy environment.

Psychologist Carl Jung was the first person to describe these two personality extremes back in the 1960s. He wrote that introverts and extraverts could be separated based on how they regain energy. (The term “extrovert” is now used more commonly than “extravert.”) Introverts, his basic definition said, prefer minimally stimulating environments, and they need time alone to recharge. Extroverts refuel by being with others.

However, we know now that these personality traits are not all or nothing. Introverts can have elements of extroversion in their personalities; they may like acting on stage or throwing parties. Extroverts may like a little more solitude from time to time and prefer to work alone when they really need to focus.

Here are some common personality traits associated with introversion:

You prefer time to yourself

The idea of being home alone is thrilling, not taxing. These periods of solitude are crucial to an introvert’s health and happiness. Whether you’re simply spending time resting or engaging in an activity, solitude is a welcome relief. Introverts often enjoy reading, gardening, crafting, writing, gaming, watching movies, or doing any other activity that’s performed alone.

You are drained by social interactions

While extroverts would not dare miss a Friday night out with friends, introverts know when they’ve maxed out and need to refuel their batteries. That’s not to say all introverts will flake out of parties — they can and do enjoy them as much as any extrovert — but at the end of a long night, introverts need to escape to recharge and reset.

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You prefer working alone

If a group project feels overwhelming or loathsome, you may be an introvert. Introverts often work best when they work alone. The isolation allows introverts to focus deeply and produce high-quality work. This isn’t to say introverts don’t work well with others; they just prefer to retreat and focus on the task at hand, rather than navigate the social aspect of working in a group setting.

You have a close circle of friends and like it that way

Don’t mistake an introvert’s small circle of friends as a sign that they can’t make friends or don’t like to socialize. In fact, they enjoy talking with people and getting to know others. They also prefer the solitude of a small circle of friends. High-quality relationships are a key to happiness for introverts, according to one study.

You are introspective and curious

You may find yourself daydreaming or working things out in your mind long before you put a plan of action in place or lift a single finger to change anything. Introverts have a very active inner thought process. That also leads them toward self-reflection and research. Introverts are dedicated to pursuing their interests and feeling prepared and well-read.

You’re accused of zoning out a lot

Introverts often “escape” from a situation by zoning out or letting their mind wander away from the task at hand. For you, this may be a way to leave a situation that feels too chaotic or uncomfortable; it’s a survival mechanism of sorts. But to others, it may seem like you’re unfocused.

You prefer writing over talking

You’re more comfortable writing out your thoughts rather than speaking, especially when you’re unprepared. You prefer to think through your response because your communication style is focused and considerate. You can carry on conversations, but if decisions are necessary, you may want more time to consider and weigh your options so you feel confident in the choice.

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You ‘feel’ more

One study shows that introverts are more likely to be diagnosed with depression. This could be, another study suggests, because introverts don’t feel happy as often as extroverts. It’s unclear why introverts don’t report higher happiness levels, but it may have a lot to do with how introverts identify happiness. Introverts prefer a higher quality of friendships and emotional regulation. It may be difficult to achieve this high level of satisfaction constantly.

Most people are not purely introverted or purely extroverted. They fall somewhere in the middle with characteristics of both. Some characteristics may be stronger, which is why people may self-identify as an introvert or extrovert.

Your genes may play a significant role in determining where you will fall on the personality continuum. Research shows that people who are extroverted respond differently to dopamine, a chemical in the reward circuitry of your brain. Extroverts get a jolt of satisfaction or energy from social interactions because of the chemical. Introverts feel overstimulated.

Your life experiences can significantly affect your personality, too. It’s possible to change or slide slightly on the spectrum throughout your life. You may learn to interact with others differently and reap rewards differently as an adult.

There is no need to change or alter your personality. No matter what, your personality is a wonderful part of who you are.

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