Roughly one third to half of the world’s population is made up of introverts. Introversion is commonly misunderstood today with many stereotypes and myths surrounding it. Luckily, however, with the help of the ever-evolving fields of science and technology, there has been a lot of research done that justifies introverts’ tendencies, habits, and needs. Psych2Go shares with you 10 interesting facts about introversion:
1. There are 4 types of introverts.
Researcher Jonathan Cheek states that it’s impossible for there to only be one type of introvert out there. He surveyed roughly 500 participants, ranging from the ages of 18-70 and asked them questions pertaining to how much solitude they need and how often they daydream. From the answers he gathered, Cheek created a model that spells the acronym STAR that explains the four different types of introverts that exist:
Social: Social introversion is what is commonly accepted and understood as being the archetypal definition of introversion. People who identify as social introverts prefer small groups over large ones, or may prefer solitude altogether. According to Cheek, they like to stay at home with a book or computer, or hang out with close friends instead of going to parties with many unfamiliar faces. It’s different, however, from shyness, because there’s no anxiety attached to their driven needs of solitude.
Thinking: Thinking introversion is one of the newer concepts of introversion today. People who identify as thinking introverts are introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective. Unlike social introverts, they don’t have a strong need to stray from large social scenes. They’re often avid daydreamers with rich imaginations and a high capacity for creativity.
Anxious: Anxious introverts seek time to be alone, because they often feel awkward and self-conscious. Unlike social introverts, anxious introverts experience painful shyness when they’re around new people. The anxiety doesn’t necessarily go away either when they’re alone because they let things play over and over again in their heads over what could’ve gone or went wrong.
Restrained: People who identify as restrained introverts function on a slower pace and prefer to think before they speak and act. They are also known for being reserved. Restrained introverts take time to get things going, because they don’t let impulse affect their decision-making.
2. Introverts react quickly to new information, but are slower to monitor change.
According to Australian psychologist John Brebner, the brains of introverts create more excitation in the phase of stimulus analysis when situations call for them to analyze what is required of them to do next. For instance, when a phone rings, introverts generate more excitation in their brains; whereas, extroverts need to inhibit everything else going on in their heads in order to make a decision. When an introvert needs to prepare for action, however, they may hesitate longer to pick up the phone. An extrovert, on the other hand, answers the phone right away. While introverts are quick to reacting strongly to new situations, extroverts, in contrast, are quicker to register changes.
3. Introverts dread small talk.
Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, states that small talk blocks honest interaction. Introverts might come off as being disinterested in others, because they don’t like taking part in small talk. But, they only dread it because of the barriers it creates between them and others. Introverts want to feel connected; however, they prefer to make connections through authenticity. Deep and meaningful conversations are what they often crave for that help lower the walls.
4. Introverts need alone time.
This goes back to fact #1 for individuals who strongly identify as social introverts. According to research, the reason introverts need alone time is because they respond differently than extroverts do to rewards. Rewards include food, money, sex, and social status. Although introverts do care about eating, the income that they earn, and cultivating relationships with others, they are less driven and experience less enthusiasm for the possibilities of them. Extroverts, in contrast, are more energized by working for those rewards, which is why they are also prone to instant gratification more often than introverts.
5. Introverts aren’t risk-averse, but they are more careful and calculated about what risks they choose to take.
This is due to the biological makeup of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with sensation-seeking, risks, and new adventures. According to research, there is a difference of dopamine activity in the brains of introverts compared to those of extroverts. This isn’t because introverts have less dopamine in their brains than extroverts. Both have the same amount. However, introverts use less activity from the region of their brain that generates dopamine.
6. Introverts are deep thinkers.
This goes back to fact #1 for individuals who strongly identify as thinking introverts. Since introverts use less activity from dopamine, they rely more often on a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine, just like dopamine, is linked to pleasure. The difference, however, lies in pleasure that is produced from turning inwards. This allows the individual to ponder and reflect deeply, and focus on one task with great attention for an extended period of time. Acetylcholine also influences one to prefer calm, quiet settings over loud, crowded places.
7. Introverts are more creative.
Introverts need solitude to recharge, but it is also within solitude that they find creativity. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that teenagers who have a hard time being alone were less likely to develop their creative skills. Most artists and writers who identify as introverts do their best work when they’re by themselves as opposed to working in group settings. Researcher Reed Larson also found that adolescents feel less self-conscious when they’re alone; therefore, it helps individuals feel safe taking more risks that allows their creative juices to flow.
8. Introverts like the rain.
Rain creates white noise that often attracts introverts, because of the opportunities it brings to seek solitude. Its calming effect also helps introverts derive pleasure from it as they can turn inwards and escape within themselves for the time being. Rain helps lower expectations for the day and isn’t as overstimulating as other weather days with the overbearing sun.
9. Pretending to be extroverted for introverts can affect their performance negatively.
Researchers discovered that introverted participants who act extroverted have showed slower reaction times on cognitive tests than introverts who were allowed to be themselves. This is because the time introverts spend on pretending to be the people they aren’t naturally wired to be causes depletion that distracts and disrupts their usual ways of performance. It’s important to realize and acknowledge this, since the world is so used to trying to mold introverts into becoming extroverts.
10. Happiness might not be a top priority for introverts, and it’s actually okay.
Sounds strange, right? Especially when we live in a culture that emphasizes happiness so much. But, according to psychologist Maya Tamir of Boston College, introverts prefer to maintain a neutral emotional state when presented with tasks, such as taking a test, giving a speech, or thinking rationally. This is because happiness, an arousing emotion, may cause introverts to feel distracted that get in their way of performing those tasks efficiently. Extroverts, however, prefer happiness when completing such tasks because it acts as a motivator.
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