Have you ever labeled yourself as an introvert or an extrovert, then realize that you don’t quite fit in either of the categories?
It seems like, for a better understanding, we have the tendency of putting things, situations and people inside a box and labeling it. It’s just easier to look at things this way, even though we’ve well aware that there are a lot of grey areas in between labels.
The human behavior falls more likely in the grey area. Of course, some behaviors can be labeled — a serial killer is a psychopath, yet a psychopath isn’t necessarily a serial killer. But we’re not going to talk about extreme human behavior, but rather about some general ideas on personality types.
Introversion and Extroversion
Carl Jung first introduced his personality theory in his book Psychological Types, where he popularized the terms introversion and extroversion. Later theories (like Myers-Briggs) adapted and improved Jung’s viewpoint. However, most of them suggest everyone has both an extroverted side and an introverted side, with one being more dominant than the other.
Extroversion (sometimes spelled ‘extroversion’) means “outward-turning” and introversion means “inward-turning”. That being said, if you’re an extrovert, you’re more outgoing and you draw energy from action. You’re probably the “life of the party” and love being around people.
Introverts rebuild their energy by spending more quiet time alone and they can feel drained by too much social interaction.
Being an introvert or an extrovert has nothing to do with being more or less friendly, more or less capable, it’s just about what naturally makes you feel more comfortable.
Ambiverts – a little bit of both?
Few of us fit neatly into either of these personality types, but what if we’re right in the middle? Recent psychological studies focused on those individuals who are neither strongly extroverted, nor strongly introverted, and came up with a name for it — ambiverts.
Having an ambivert personality means exhibiting qualities of both introversion and extroversion. Think about it! Some days you do everything you can to be around people, you want to meet all your friends and you just need all the “noise”. Other days, all of this seems too much and you feel like taking a break, you need to spend some time alone and just reflect on things.
Studies show that about 70% of our personality is genetic, but the rest of it changes according to people around us and situations we find ourselves in. Basically, we adapt. Depending on the situation, sometimes we are so chatty that we forget to breathe, and sometimes we let others do the talking.
To some extent, introverts can behave as extroverts, and vice versa. However, too many high-stimulation situations can lead an introvert to burn out, while too much solitude can bum out an extrovert. An ambivert consistently moves between the two orientations, and this can be seen as an advantage in some situations.
But the ambivert is no recent “discovery.” While assessing personality traits, Carl Jung actually did identify a third personality type on the introverted-extroverted spectrum:
Later, psychologist Hans Eysenck, coined the term “ambivert,” so it appears that there was just a lack of research on the matter.
Also, there are a lot of ambiverts out there. Although more research needs to be done before we can determine a percentage, the existing studies indicate that about one third of the population is ambiverted.
One thing’s for sure: there is no right or wrong personality type. Learn as much as you can about yourself and let that be your advantage. Find the people and activities that bring out your best self and let them nourish you.