Introversion and extraversion are terms
first coined by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung
in Switzerland in the 1920s
according to Jung
an extravert seeks intensive contact with the outside world
an introvert instead turns the physic energy inwards.
Jung believed that no one is a hundred percent extravert
or a hundred percent introvert
instead we carry both traits
however most minds tend to lean either to one side or the other.
If both characteristics are equally present
we can speak of someone
who has an ambivert personality.
In the 1960s
the psychologist Hans Eysenck added to Carl Jung’s ideas.
He argued that the main difference between introverts and extraverts
lies in the way they gain and recharge their mental energy.
By Nature, introverted people have a higher level of brain activity
and therefore feel a greater need
to shield themselves from external stimuli.
By withdrawing themselves they gain mental energy.
The neuronal activity of extraverts is lower.
They overcome this lack
by exposing themselves to external stimulation.
This charges their inner batteries.
To illustrate the difference
let’s compare two imaginary children:
Jay is extraverted.
He loves to be surrounded by classmates.
He enjoys being the center of attention
And loves to talk to his buddies about all kinds of stuff.
He organizes football games with strangers
and right after is open to playing ping-pong with someone else.
By seeking social stimuli
he gains mental energy.
Ann is introverted.
As others play around in the park
she often enjoyssitting alone watching.
At home, she plants herbs in the garden, all byherself.
She slowly becomes a real expert in this field
but that’s her secret.
To recharge her batteries
Ann needs peace and quiet time.
Introverts are not necessarily shy,
even if it appears they like to walk away from small talk.
Ann in fact is not shy at all.
She is not afraid to talk to anyone,
not even seniors.
When too many people are around
and the conversations become superficial or confusing
she gets super tired.
Her strategy is to fade out
and go inside herself to rechargethrough silence.
Jay loves to have many people around him,
to jump from one conversation to the next stimulates him.
Some experts claim
that extraverts and introverts use different brain areas to form their thoughts.
An extravert tendsto use short term memory
and therefore is able to come to fast associations
Jay therefore talks fast and a lot.
He appears smart
because his brain always offers an answer quickly.
However he often speaks before he thinks
and later changes his mind.
Someone like Ann
works with her brain to carefully retrieve information from her long-term memory.
Her thoughts are more complex
and hence need more time to develop.
She therefore thinks first
and then speaks.
If the two were asked for directions by a tourist
Ann would spend time thinking about the best answer
while Jay would have already come up with different kinds of options.
Good teachers and clever business leaders
know about the different nature of introverts and extraverts
and try todevelop their strengths.
When raising questions
they ask everyone to think for a minute in silence before answering.
Extraverts then learn to formalize theirthoughts before they speak
and introverts get more talking time topractice public speaking.
At brainstorming they use a formal process or a talking stick
to make sure an Ann also gets to participate.
Group projects can be formalized
to support both temperaments.
In one project extraverts and introverts work together.
Jay then learns from Ann
how to think ideas over to develop more complex thoughts.
And in return
benefits from Jay’s fast association skills
and learns to think and speak more flexibly.
In the next project
the same temperaments work together.
Then they see their own traits in the opposite person.
If confrontedwith problems in teams of the same character
introverts need to speak up
and extraverts are forced to think deep to proceed.
The educator Rudolf Steiner
was a proponent of this method for his Waldorf schools.
Psychologist Jerome Kagan’s research on temperament in Toddlers
showed that many character traits we are born with make it into adulthood.
He confronted 500 babies with different stimuli
like loud sounds and bad smells.
Around 20% of the babiescried or got nervous,
40% stayed relaxed
and the other 40% were somewhere in between.
A second test years later showed,
that babies who didn’t react strongly turned out to be more extraverted.
What about yourself?
Do you consider yourself more introverted or extraverted?
Or do you think this classification is flawed
and there is no such thing?
Please share your thoughts inthe comments below.
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