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Extraversion and Introversion - Lexicon of Psychology

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The pair of opposites "extraversion - introversion" describes a stable personality trait and was first used in 1921 by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung in his theory of personality types. In Jung's imagination, psychic energy can either be directed outwards (extraverted) or inwards (introverted) - each related to perception, intuition, thinking and feeling. For Jung, extraverted meant “conscious” and introverted “unconscious”.

The famous German-born psychologist and personality researcher Hans Jürgen Eysenck recognized a fundamental personality dimension in the pair of opposites "extraversion - introversion": people are not either "extroverted" or "introverted", but can be classified with many gradations on a continuum from very introverted to very extroverted .

According to Eysenck, extraverted people are more likely to:
  • sociable
  • thoughtless / reckless
  • dominant
  • adventurous
  • impulsive
  • willing to take risks
  • expressive
  • active
Introverts are more likely to:
  • quiet calm
  • reluctant
  • introverted
  • reserved
  • shy
Sometimes introversion is also associated with social phobias, but this does not necessarily have to be the case: introverted people are not necessarily afraid of social contacts, but are initially only "withdrawn".

One of Eysenck's great achievements is that he also developed a theory to explain the differences between extroverted and introverted people. Eysenck assumed that the differences were due to differences in the excitability of the cortical brain. Extraverts are sociable, risk-taking, and adventurous because they lack internal stimuli and therefore need external stimuli to achieve optimal levels of cortical arousal.

Extraversion has both genetic and biological origins. The influence of the environment on the development of this personality dimension is rather subordinate. However, recent studies have shown that the sibling order has an influence on the facets of extraversion: firstborns are more active, dominant and willing to take risks, later borns are more social and sociable. Extraverts often perform better at work, e.g. as managers and salespeople. You maintain social contacts more intensively and are more willing to take risks. However, more recent studies also show that especially among top managers (C-level) and innovators, introverted personalities are surprisingly represented, e.g. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg.

Extraversion and the Big Five

Together with the other two fundamental personality dimensions postulated by Eysenck, neuroticism and psychoticism, the personality dimension "extraversion - introversion" in Eysenck's PEN model forms a three-dimensional coordinate system for describing the human personality.

Today the dimension "extraversion - introversion" is regarded by all leading personality researchers as one of the five most important personality traits (Big Five). It is included in practically every personality test. The Big Five personality dimensions are: extraversion, neuroticism, openness, compatibility and conscientiousness. For example, they can be determined with the Big Five personality test on Psychomeda (online).

A number of psychological tests have been developed to measure "extraversion - introversion":
  • Eysenck Personality Profiler (EPP): Test developed by Eysenck that records different facets of extraversion.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychological test for Jung personality types
  • Five Factor Inventory (NEOFFI): Tests the five basic dimensions of personality (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, tolerance).
  • Big Five Personality Test (B5T): Well-known German-language personality test to measure "Extraversion - Introversion" and the other four Big Five dimensions as well as to measure basic motivation

The Big Five Personality Test (B5T) can be taken online and for free on Psychomeda. The test also shows the results according to the DISC model. The evaluation is displayed immediately after the last question. To the Big Five personality test ...

Further sources and web links

Book recommendations

Patrick Hundt (2014). Mind thing: love the introvert in you. CreateSpace. more...
Susan Cain (2013). Still: The power of the introvert. Gold man. more...

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