What is an Introvert?

Niki Foster

Basically, an introvert is a person who is reserved, quiet, and solitary. Introversion and its opposite, extroversion, also spelled extraversion, form the ends of a continuum that describes one aspect of every person's personality. The concept was popularized by the work of psychologist Carl Jung.

An introvert tends to be reserved and solitary.
An introvert tends to be reserved and solitary.

Jung described an introvert as a person whose psychic energy is directed inward. While most modern day psychologists do not believe in the existence of "psychic energy" per se, they agree that a person with this type of personality is more concerned with and interested in his or her own thoughts than in the external world. Introverts often come off as shy and prefer to spend time on their own or with one or two close friends. They typically feel more energy and can work more productively when alone.

Some introverts find it difficult to make friends and be social.
Some introverts find it difficult to make friends and be social.

While it is generally considered more desirable to be an extrovert in Western society, and extroverted traits are encouraged, being an introvert has significant benefits. These people often excel in higher education, in which the ability to spend large amounts of time with one's own thoughts is a great asset. They are also often capable of forming very deep and close friendships.

Introverts may prefer to interact with others online rather than in person.
Introverts may prefer to interact with others online rather than in person.

Psychologist Hans Eysenck postulated that the introvert experiences more brain activity than the extrovert and is therefore constantly at a higher state of stimulation without turning to external sources. Therefore, the large crowds of people that the extrovert is bored without can be overstimulating to the introvert or difficult for him or her to pay attention to. One study showed that these people experience greater blood flow in areas of the brain controlling logic and problem-solving.

Introverts often have self-esteem issues.
Introverts often have self-esteem issues.

There are some drawbacks to this personality type as well. Such people often find it difficult to make friends with others and may become lonely. They may find events with large groups of people uncomfortable and may be perceived as rude or stand-offish. Introverts will probably not excel in careers in which engaged personal interaction with strangers is essential. A study by psychologist David Myers found that these people are less likely to be "happy" than extroverts, although the reason for the correlation is unclear.

Introverts will often have one or two close friends that they prefer to be around.
Introverts will often have one or two close friends that they prefer to be around.

People who are curious about where they fall on the personality spectrum can find many self-tests available in books and online. They should keep in mind, however, that most people don't fall on the extremes of the spectrum and actually have features of each type.

Introverts hate dealing with large crowds.
Introverts hate dealing with large crowds.
Some introverts prefer to spend quiet time alone rather than be surrounded by lots of people.
Some introverts prefer to spend quiet time alone rather than be surrounded by lots of people.
Some introverts can become very lonely.
Some introverts can become very lonely.

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Discussion Comments


@anon22301: I couldn't have said it better. Everyone thinks that I am a sociopath or that I am a serial killer just because I prefer to be alone. I don't like to waste time talking to others, including my family most of the time.

While I do enjoy limited time with family or close friends, I just enjoy being alone working on electronics work or programming or even video gaming. I don't care what is "in" or who is doing what, as long as I have time to myself to be free and not have to deal with anyone else.

I don't hate anyone and will do anything for anyone. I just don't generally want to talk to the average person who has nothing to say.


I'm an introvert. (Everyone: "Hi introvert!")

OK. Inside humor.

The problem for me though, is living in a foreign country. I don't speak Chinese very well and find it tiring as it is to speak constantly, let alone another language. So I've been lonely for the last couple of years. If I do go out with locals, I'm excluded from conversation because I don't know the secret language. My wife is Chinese so I often talk to her, but because others don't process English, I'm often cut off in conversation.

I haven't had a good friend to chill with for quite some time. These are the times that introversion is hard. Many people head to bars and clubs to meet friends, but those places are noisy and I dislike it.

There are not many jobs available for expats, except English teaching, which I've grown to hate. I feel trapped. Life can be hard for introverts because of the lack of aggressiveness towards life.

Well, this too will soon pass. In the end I hope I'm stronger. --Luke


Is it wrong to be an introvert? Well we are somehow God's creation. People are kind of degrading to this group of people obviously by not thinking of the talent they might inherit or possess! Such a setback.

Furthermore, we are not the kind of people who like to gossip over trivial matters. We are a special breed of people -- the "gifted child." so to speak. We are not interfering in anybody's business as we focus on the responsibility for accomplishment of the task which is being appointed to us.

Respect the fact that each and every human is born uniquely as of the likeness of Him! So no group of people is better or greater than the other.


While growing up, I could not understand why I was different from the rest. I did not like to hang out or talk much. I was very much on my own. It was very tough growing up because I always felt I had to meet others expectation.

Now that I am 30 years old, I have finally realized and accepted the fact that I am an introvert. I respect my own need to be alone. Only then I become truly happy with my life! I did not like to be friends with my colleagues and never attended any kind of office gathering. Because of this, everyone thinks I am a snob or rude.

I notice people around me love to be with me and wanted more. They only get confused when I tried to disengage myself from them. That just proves I do not have a snobbish character or they won't come to me like that? Plus, a lot of them in the office worry for me thinking I am very lonely. But it is beyond logic to explain to them how tremendously happy I feel when I am left alone! That I beg in my heart for them to leave me alone.


I am an introvert and have felt that I was not happy with work due to having to be with many people. So I quit the job in order to focus on how to be happy. I think there would be good jobs for introverts. Jobs that related with social stuff are pain for me. So I'm trying to find the right one that would give me financial, emotional satisfaction at the same time.


I totally agree with Jung's theory of introvert and energy connection. i am an introvert and it's totally wrong that introverted people are shy.

as for public communication, i can talk to anyone with confidence. I don't like much gatherings or social groups because i'm getting all my energy from inward, and in groups i don't get back the same amount of energy. i prefer to be myself and my inner is all source of energy.


I did not understand who an introvert is until my boyfriend asked me then I decided to check on the net and found the meaning which really spoke about me. I have just found out I'm an introvert. I'm very shy, quiet, and love to be on my own. I do not have friends. I prefer to be on my own. I like going out for quiet dinners but not to events with lots of people as this is not for me. If I have to go for parties, I always sit at the corner just observing what is going on. I don't know how to make friends and when I make them, I can't keep them. Most of the time I'm very lonely because I'm all by myself. Sometimes I really, really feel sad but I can't do anything about it as that is who I am.


I feel a lot like anon22031 does on being an introvert. After 9 1/2 hours at work as being a legal assistant and being forced to listen to 100 people's stories a day, I am exhausted!!! All I want to do is not talk to anyone and read or zonk out to the tv. My boyfriend does not understand this, and people in his family think I am a snob for not being social. I am not a snob, I just can't find the energy to chit chat about their kids, finances, or jobs for hours on end. I do not have many friends, but I really don't care that I don't. I like being alone and I don't need to apologize for it.


well being an introvert, one, I *never* appreciate parties outside not like anon2203 who goes dancing, me at the school even I am attending those parties I never dance or what else I prefer sitting alone at one side observing my friends and my classmates. And always find it boring.

At home I prefer being alone thinking of some lines that I can use for my masterpieces or just hum for a song. We are 3 in the family and we all prefer to be alone, we do not talk to strangers or even to our family members...We choose someone who can understand us...and for us, my idea in why we have introverted ones is that they cannot easily find persons to open to or maybe the environment which they belong.


I never gave much thought to introvert vs extrovert until my 16 year old son died. The extremes of this personality trait came out in both myself & my spouse. We grew apart. He was out socializing every chance he could, talking to anyone who would listen(including the divorcee down the road), which I saw as rejection? He did not want to be with me after all. Where was I? Wrapped up in my favorite chair and a book! My escape. Only now 3 years later, and a marriage gone bad, am I understanding why we parted ways.


I am a shy introvert. Although I have become less shy with exposure, therapy, and social skills training, I have definite introverted traits. I always thought that once I became less shy that I would automatically love to socialize a lot and do parties, etc. While these things can be fun, my life is not centered around constant socialization. It’s centered around ideas, learning, new experiences and creativity.

I don’t feel the need to be social with people as often as my significant other, for instance. He seems connected to his cell phone, and talks to people every night. Every night! He’s the only person, aside from work colleagues, that I speak to each day. It should also be noted that I have very few friends and acquaintances owing to my shy and introverted nature. He seems to have the need to be talking to somebody, anybody, most of the time. I just don’t get that. I’m fine with not talking to anyone for weeks at a time, and I definitely rarely chat up random strangers as he does. On public transportation or waiting in lines, I generally care not to speak to anyone or be spoken to. Usually in these situations I’m pretty cranky anyway. Additionally, there are certain people I don’t call because I know I’ll be on the phone for hours. Unless the conversation is about movies, books, preferences, juicy gossip, politics or something deep and controversial, I’m not particularly interested in talking to you. I also prefer weird and/or funny people. Unfortunately, most people aren’t that interesting, I include myself.

Crowds bother me, I prefer the company of a few close friends, and although I enjoy a dance party, cocktail parties are difficult for me to tolerate for more than an hour or so. I think the emphasis on superficial talk and being asked those routine questions over and over again infuriates me. Once I’ve been asked what I do for a living for the 100th time (Marketing, go figure) I want to scream. All the truly interesting things to talk about are verboten for small talk. No politics, no esoteric things (i.e., I am fascinated by deviant psychology and know a lot about sociopaths), no fun nerding out on movies you’ve seen. Dry accounting of my last trip (I went to S.F., we did this, we did that, we stayed here and here is X miles from this place, *YAWN*)

If I am pushed beyond my introverted limits, I began to space out, and start imagining myself at home doing something solitary. I am not beyond pulling out a pencil and note pad or even a book to mentally transport me away from extrovertville. I find such activities as fun and stimulating to me as having a gaggle of people around chatting is to an extrovert. At the end of a long day at work, I am often uncommunicative at home, preferring instead to surf the net, read, or watch TV. This time is precious to me; crucial in fact, as I decompress and regain the energy lost during a full day of meetings and chit chat.

I have always been like this. Even though I was shy as a youngster, I did not long for popularity. I just wanted to be able to talk to whomever I wanted, speak up in class if I had a question, and stand up for myself without feeling like my chest was imploding and my face was on fire. I saw the “cool” kids and wannabes for what they were. I had no desire to denigrate myself trying to fit in with a certain crowd. I loved art and language, and these were my overriding concerns as a young girl. I’m glad, for that. I recognize so many of the extroverted need for approval and desire to please others as a weakness that has led so many teenagers into smoking, early pregnancy, and drug abuse.

These are definite drawbacks to extroversion.

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