The Personality Factor: How Does Introversion or Extroversion Interact with Well-Being?

Inline_Introvert_ExtrovertSometimes it seems like this world is built for extroverts. The most successful politicians, entertainers, and public figures are (or at least come off as) extroverts. One of the “Big 5” personality traits we use to judge and praise people is extraversion (Introversion, falsely assumed as simply the lack of extraversion, doesn’t merit mention.) Certain studies suggest that extroverts make more money than introverts, on average. Extroverts tend to be happier than introverts, regardless of the cultural context. Introverts are more likely to suffer from depression and asthma.

On paper, it seems like extroversion is the clear evolutionary winner. It makes you happier, wealthier, and even healthier (maybe). It’s selected for in many of the most public spheres, like entertainment and politics. So why has introversion been so well preserved? Why do introverts, by most accounts, still comprise at least 25% of the population?

If you could construct the perfect human to innovate, explore, and conquer the world, understand and capitalize on its natural laws, and create powerful technology, you’d insert both adventurousness and circumspection, gregariousness and studiousness. You’d want a balanced person with the capacity to lead, inspire, engage, and act decisively—while also thinking deeply, ruminating, and planning ahead. Few of these superhumans exist, sadly. Those that do tend to excel.

But remember: The success of human populations didn’t just depend on the evolutionary success of each individual human who comprised them, but on the evolutionary success of the group as a whole—the super organism. The collective energy and aptitude.

And what makes for a healthier, more successful tribe?

One composed entirely of extroverts, one composed entirely of introverts, or one with a blend of both? Consider what each brings to the table.

Extroverts are probably more adventurous in many ways. They make friends more easily, act more decisively, and thrive on social energy.

Introverts are more cautious on average. They plan their moves, weigh their options, and often find socializing draining.

In difficult situations, extroverts are better at recruiting different parts of the brain to devise a quick response. Introverts respond relatively slowly to immediate stimuli, but they make up for it with an affinity for deep, focused work and abstract thought. 

Getting the right blend of introverts and extroverts in your group imbues the superorganism with the qualities necessary to excel and dominate. You have the planners and the doers. The adventurers who throw caution to the wind and those who warn against foolhardiness. 

This isn’t a binary relationship. Introversion and extraversion exist along a spectrum. Most people have elements of each, and the relative propensity appears to be hereditary.

On one level, the world caters to extroverts. We know this from an early age. Introverted toddlers hear “oh, aren’t you shy?” no less than a million times before they reach grade school. Schools stress the importance of “group work,” and often force it on students. The modern school itself is an evolutionary aberration where children are segregated by age and too often have all agency stripped from them.

That’s true.

But the world is also changing. Technology is opening new doors and changing the way we do business (and even life to some extent). There are more opportunities than ever before, and entrepreneurs are taking advantage. Creativity has perhaps never mattered more. Many of the greatest minds were introverted. People value—and deeply need—introverts who can hunker down and do the hard, deep work. 

I’m a bit of an introvert. And I’ve done pretty well for myself.

I can give talks and presentations. I can mingle at parties and conferences. I can and do run a business (or three). I do great in small or even large groups of people.

But I need to recharge. I need my alone time. I prefer the company of small groups of close friends and family. I love a good book. I require regular infusions of nature-tinged solitude.

In my experience, there are introverts who accept their disposition, who optimize its strengths and work with its needs, and introverts who deny their nature. The former are happy, well-adjusted, successful, and completely comfortable in their own skin. The latter are lying to themselves. They pine for extroversion and suffer needlessly because of it. 

So that’s the first step. Whether you’re more extroverted or more introverted, own it. Accept who you are.

Being an MDA reader, you’re probably wondering how extroversion and introversion can affect your health and life. What are the practical implications of being introverted or extroverted for well-being?

There’s not a ton of great definitive evidence. But we can make a few guesses based on what evidence exists. Regardless, I think there’s potential for some deep and insightful discussion.

  • Extroverts are more vulnerable to sleep deprivation-induced performance deficits. One study found that after 77 hours of sleep deprivation, extroverts performed poorly on tests of attention and vigilance; sleep-deprived introverts saw less degradation.
  • An introvert’s cerebral cortex is more active at rest than an extrovert’s. It’s lighting up just by virtue of its existence. This sounds “good,” but it also means most introverts are ruminators. They think, dwell, ponder. More active cortical matter—and thicker cortexes—can also mean overthinking.
  • An extrovert’s cerebral cortex is less aroused at baseline and requires more input to stimulate it. Socializing is a reliable way to stimulate an extrovert’s brain.
  • Social contact can be a powerful motivator for extroverts. The neuronal circuitry responsible for making decisions lights up in extroverts; not so much in introverts.
  • Neither extroversion nor introversion have much effect on a person’s response to training. E/I has no effect on exercise-induced mood changes.   I’m curious, though, how introversion/extroversion impacts choice of exercise and other specifics of training preferences.
  • According to one study, introverts respond better to negative reinforcement. Extroverts respond better to positive reinforcement. But I think there’s more to this story…. Other research suggests introverts tend to be more internally motivated. They might not need the outer push an extrovert benefits from but might respond if there’s a negative incentive (social or otherwise) to keep the peace or because negative reinforcement is more likely to interact with internal motivation/self-image.
  • On that subject, dopamine reward networks are more active in extroverts. They respond more to external rewards than introverts do. Introverts don’t appear to be as chemically motivated by common rewards in our culture/environment.
  • On the other hand, some experts suggest introverts tend to respond more to the parasympathetic-associated neurotransmitter, acetylcholinePowering down might just feel better than getting revved up as a result.
  • Interestingly, one small study revealed that introverts and extroverts exhibit different blood flow patterns in the brain, with introverts showing increased blood flow patterns in the frontal lobes and in the anterior thalamus and extroverts showing associated patterns in the anterior cingulate gyrus, the temporal lobes and the poster thalamus.

I’d say there’s a lot to unpack here—brain activation in relation to stimuli, emotional processing, motivation approach, etc. While it’s an intricate picture I think we’ll never fully get to the bottom of, it’s good to know we always have fodder for deeper research…and future conversation.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. Here’s where I turn it over to you—where I think anecdotal experience can help augment hard science’s assessment of complex “soft” science questions. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert (or ambivert—some combination of both)? How has this experience or perception influenced your health choices and life decisions? What resources or questions have been most insightful for you? Take care.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

64 thoughts on “The Personality Factor: How Does Introversion or Extroversion Interact with Well-Being?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I too am an introvert. Always have been and never found that it held me back. I’m not uncomfortable around people but I’m just as happy being by myself, if not more so. I’ve often found extroverts to be effusive, which can easily translate into insincerity. I was briefly married to one. He was immensely likeable, always the life of the party, barging full speed ahead into whatever, without a thought for the consequences. He frequently went without sleep until he was a walking basket case. Thing is, I don’t think any of that came naturally to him. I wonder how often people really are extroverts by nature and how often it’s mostly an act, acquired to succeed in an extroversion-oriented society.

  2. Wow very good, saving this.
    I am an introvert who was saved from the full blown introvert category by the Zumba …
    It is very difficult for a male introvert to do a Zumba class, shake your booty in front of everybody. And still more difficult to convert one of them to a Zumba devotee (my case)

          1. I think I discovered the mystery: if as soon as the article is posted and you start creating a comment, when you actually post it will be recorded as earlier than the one of another faster poster, who completed the post faster

  3. Thank you for posting this Mark. It is something I have looked into a lot and discussed with my friends and family. I am mostly introverted, but I have had little problem speaking in public, making friends, and interacting with strangers; but, as you said, while I find it to be enjoyable, I also find it to be a rather large energy drain. I have a definite cut-off point, and my friends know this, where after a certain amount of time my patience wears thin and I become less responsive and more reserved, if it gets later into the evening I may even fall asleep. I always thought I was anti-social, and in my angsty youth that was a part of my perceived identity. As I matured and I read up on psychology (I’ll include some links below) I learned that there was a spectrum, and I could enjoy other people and my alone time at the same time, but which I find to be more restorative as opposed to taxing is what determined my introversion tendencies. This helped me reflect on my choice in friends (many of who I have known for at least 15 years) and discover who I am as a person (an ongoing process, and my level of introversion has waxed and waned over time). My friends are a mix of personality types and they all have different but complementary interests, but I originally saw them as outgoing and extroverted which is what I was attracted to because it’s what I wasn’t (we always want what we don’t yet have). Some turned out to be truly extroverted, most were like me, socially capable but recharge alone. I was able to learn that extroverted activities, public speaking, networking, etc are skills just as much as innate abilities. Something that I as an introvert have to put effort into, just as my extroverted friends have to put effort into sitting and thinking.
    Now, how does this affect my health. In the beginning negatively. I wanted to be alone, but being alone as a young man in today’s day in age means sedentary (mostly). I would watch things, read things, and play video games. Recently, after applying primal blueprint principles to my life I have discovered that because I am introverted and I find my motivation for health and exercise internally that I can have alone time while walking, exercising and cooking. I also found out that I do not exercise well or cook well with a partner or two. It’s something I can work on, but my focus then is more on maintaining the social than the exercise. This also affect my relationship with my fiance who gains exercise motivation from a partner, another thing to work on, but not an impossibility. These are all implications of introversion I have experienced for primal blueprint activities. My learned extroversion skills have allowed me to communicate the benefit of the primal lifestyle to friends and family and have them make steps towards a more primal lifestyle.

  4. I love this. I have always been surrounded by family and friends who do not understand my introversion. I can be the life of the party, but I definitely need that time to recharge with solitude!! One thing I’ve found is that different people fall on a varying spectrum of social anxiety for me. I can be around my husband all the time and rarely need a break, but a certain relative or friend comes over and I feel like I can’t talk to another soul for a week.
    I’m just glad that you mentioned the healthful ways to embrace introversion and to no longer feel guilty for not fitting into an arbitrary mold!

    1. I feel the same way. I can hang around my husband, my mom, and my sisters and not burn out, but other people drain me, and it can take days of recovering to feel like socializing again. I also think being a mom has some effect on this. It’s hard to recharge when you’ve got babies/toddlers climbing all over you.

  5. I’ve definitely always been more of an introvert, though not for lack of trying (really, really hard) to be more socially engaged. I’ve managed to find ways to create “roles” to slip into when needed (party host, team leader, group organizer), each of which comes with a set of self-defined rules to govern my “unnatural” extroverted behavior.
    Basically, engaging with others socially is complex and energy-consuming, so my default state is one of silence and introspection. However, by creating relatively simple rule sets to follow while engaging with others, it’s become easier to step out of the default and into the potentially uncomfortable engaged states.

    1. Alisa, when you speak of slipping into roles you hit the nail on the head. If I have to be social, or be a leader and do-er, I consider it something like a stage act. Learn the part, BE the part, then go on stage. If I do that, I do well. If I don’t, I get frustrated 5 minutes in.

    2. Wow, that’s really true for me! Thanks for writing that down, it was an eye-opener. I like to teach/train others when I’m well prepared myself. It’s the “unknown” daily life I’m struggling with, especially at my last work place. How do you act/apply “the rules” if noone tells you “the rules”? I’ve never felt truly comfortable there, always rather insecure. Now I’ve been layed off… it’s not a nice experience, and I worry about finding another job (and having to familiarize myself with new colleagues and learning their “rules”!), but it’s probably not the worst thing that could have happened, all things considered.

  6. Yes, good post! I’m aware of being an introvert but it took many years of wondering why I “didn’t fit in” in most situations. Now, I am more content than ever with who I am. Mark is right on about “accepting” who we are as the first step. Immensely freeing!

    An excellent book on the subject is Quiet! The Power of the Introvert in a World that can’t stop Talking. Don’t remember the author off-hand, but very much worth reading.

    1. these comments are a gold mine – looking for the book right now – thanks!

  7. About 5 years ago I read the book ‘Quiet’ and it was a life changer for me. I was always so ashamed of my quietness and after reading the book I felt very proud and empowered by the fact that I am an introvert. I became less shy and speak up much more freely because of this enlightenment. And she does a good job showing the difference between shyness and introversion.

  8. Leonardo da vinci was a introvert and he was one of the most brilliant men in our history. I saw on a Ancient Alien episode (yeah I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist) that he once went into a cave and stayed there for weeks and he always claimed he was given superior knowledge through vivid visions of the future. Of course the show I was watching tried to alter the narrative a bit and make it seem like aliens gave him this knowledge. When in reality it was most likely due to the absence of light in the cave which caused the perceived “visions”. At any rate, pretty cool article. Kind of got off topic there lol. It would be cool Mark to see you do a article on ancient aliens and what role they played in primal evolution, lol.

  9. I think introverts’ health is negatively affected when their introversion is not respected. When people try to jolly you along, force you out of your shell,’trick you into social situations -that is stressful! It’s made worse by the high degree of shaming of introverts that is socially acceptable. How would extroverts like it if they were constantly frowned on, pressured to tone it down, forced into spending time alone?

    I have a low social number. I’m easily overwhelmed by crowds, noise, mixed smells, and general cluttering of my mental space by talking and shrieking. It can make me physically ill.

    I do not respond well to negative reinforcement. Call me names, shout at me, pull the boot camp sergeant on me, and you are history! I’m likely to walk out, demand my money back if I have paid for anything, and refuse to even look at you again.

    I also don’t like positive reinforcement, which all too often comes over as gushing insincerity and patronization. “oh wow, look at you!” “OMG, I can’t believe how great you’re doing!!” You’ll get the hairy eyeball from me and your credit rating will drop catastrophically.

    I like to be shown the basics, pointed toward help resources, and left to get on with it. I usually end up doing very well indeed.

    In terms of exercise, I prefer to get it in the process of doing something I enjoy, not as an end in itself. I prefer being alone or with a very small group; in a group, I like the activity to be self-paced. I’m repelled by team sports, which are often far too competitive and far too loud for me.

    1. +1. My mother was big into negative reinforcement. She told me numerous times, growing up, that I was “backward”, “aloof”, “unfriendly”, etc. I guess she thought she was helping me, and that I could somehow flick a switch and become the sparkling extrovert that people would fawn over. Fortunately, even at that tender age I had enough sense to understand my own personality. I filed the negative reinforcement under “Things to never do to my own children.”

    2. I can definitely relate to you. As a very shy introvert, I really feel like I’ll never be accepted because I’m quiet and I’ve even questioned whether I’m good enough for anyone. I’ve always been told to “come out of my shell” or “speak louder” which has really affected me all throughout adolecence. It’s crazy that I’m still having to face this now, it’s so depressing. I just wished that people could see that being an introvert is not a bad thing. I wish I could have a chance to be myself, to be more vocal at my own pace, but I feel that in this extroverted world, that possibility for me is slight.

      1. Tameka, just be who you are and stop worrying about what other people think. It might surprise you to know that everyone has their own insecurities and probably don’t give yours much thought. Don’t be your own worst enemy by automatically assuming your possibilities are slight. They aren’t; in fact, they are endless. There’s much to be said for the reserved, soft-spoken people in this world.

    3. Bang on about the positive/negative reinforcement! I’ve skipped award ceremonies before, told employers they’re not allowed to announce my birthday, and I dread ever having to work some place with an employee of the month program. If you want to thank me, or encourage me, then do it in private. Or at least give me time to mentally brace for it. Negative reinforcement will, at best, result in a performance drop, because now I simple don’t give a crap, whereas before, I did.

    4. I could have written every bit of your post.

      You are probably what is known as a Highly Sensitive Person. I am, too. Not surprisingly, most HSPs are introverts. I’m sensitive to bright lights, noise, smells, barometric pressure, and crowds. A day at Six Flags is my worst nightmare. Regarding noise, most days I spend alone without TV or radio, even in the car, perfectly happy with my own thoughts and doings. My husband, who is quite the extrovert, is home in the evenings, and I get all the external stimulation I can stand from him, lol. I’m also sensitive to other people’s emotions and seem to soak up their feelings like a sponge; I think that is the main reason being around other people wears me out and why I’m choosy with my friends and somewhat limit contact, even with them.

      For some unknown reason, and against all odds, I also accepted myself – introversion and all – at a young age. That has been like armor for me. I always had faith in my own mind and went my own way, regardless of what others thought I should do. My mother, who didn’t care for my introversion and wasn’t shy about letting me know it, used to tell me I was oversensitive. When I was around 40, I guess I’d had my fill of it and told her, “No, you’re just callous”. I’ll never forget the look on her face or her loss for words, and she never said it again. If given the opportunity to change into an extrovert, I’d say “No thanks”.

      Another benefit of introversion is that I’m never bored, because I entertain myself internally. I’m constantly thinking, daydreaming, in outer space, whatever you want to call it. I even make myself laugh when I think of something funny. My husband and daughter (also an extrovert) have told me that sometimes they don’t think about anything. I don’t know how that’s even possible!

  10. Ok we have some introverts here.
    Funny thing: introverts are posting stuff, extroverts are silent ?
    It was supposed to be the other way …
    Could it be that I am an extrovert … (twilight zone eerie music)

    1. Mark, as a former distance runner do you think that introverts are drawn to distance running and other endurance sports whereas extroverts might be drawn to the gym or group classes?

      1. Great question. I’m also interested in what Mark has to say about this.

      2. Introvert here. I workout in the basement with kettlebells. Tried crossfit and it was fun and all, but working out alone is much more enjoyable.

    2. I think the introverts are posting because we have spent a lifetime “ruminating” about our introverted nature. The comments are a continuation of this internal dialog.

      1. I’ve only recently discovered that there’s nothing wrong with me in being an introvert and whenever you see a post of this type and realise there are others just like you, it is really refreshing. It’s actually hard to go through life wondering why you don’t conform to the bubbly, outgoing personalities that society seems to prefer and what extroverts deem ‘atmosphere’, introverts often deem simply noise. I’ve put myself in many uncomfortable situations trying to ‘extrovertise’ myself and whereas I’m happy to compromise in life, it rarely happens the other way around with extroverts appreciating introvert traits on occasion. If you don’t want to go for out for a drink with a crowd of people, you are deemed unsociable, weird, nice but very quiet etc.

        1. I think it’s because introverts are capable of entertaining themselves while extroverts, who can’t do that as well and therefore don’t understand that ability, require more external stimulation. My husband, who is an extrovert, focuses pretty much all his attention externally and is not by any stretch of the imagination introspective. I, however, have always been extremely introspective and focus my energy on on self-examination and my interactions with the “outside” world. My husband gives no thought to that kind of thing until I talk about it, then he’s like “Wow, I never thought about that.” That kind of process just never occurs to him. Studying our differences is fascinating.

    3. I wonder if there is a difference when introverts socialize with introverts only lol. Is it less uncomfortable?? Regardless, this article was very validating that we are not terrible people so I guess the introverts are coming out of hiding for this one 😉

      1. I can only speak with my own experiences, but the friends I have (that are introverted) and I have a very close and special bond. Our friendships have been deep and forever. I can go for months (or, in some cases, years) without speaking to them and there is never that feeling in the air that one of us is pissed off at the other. We mind our business and don’t immediately feel like the other person is mad at us if we don’t speak on a daily or weekly basis. When we haven’t seen one another for awhile, we pick right back up where we left off. My extroverted friends seem to feel that I’m upset with them if I don’t call, text, or otherwise get in touch very often. This isn’t meant to disrespect extroverts at all.

        1. +1. I feel like I’m “+1-ing” every comment made by an introvert, but this topic so resonates with me, and I never see it discussed anywhere!

  11. I call myself an “outgoing introvert.” I’m very friendly and approachable, and enjoy socializing. In the right setting, I’m the life of the party. However, I also enjoy my own company, and need some quiet time every day to feel like myself and recharge. And that works for me. I get totally energized from being around people, but then I’m so happy to come home to my laptop and write.

    1. Oh my, that’s how I am.
      Very outgoing but need my private time every day.

    2. Introversion doesn’t mean “shy”. It just means prolonged social interaction just wears you down. I personally don’t avoid social situations, I just know I’ll need to unwind for a while when I get home.

  12. Mark:

    Some food for thought. I am a retired army officer. Within the service there has been a lot of research done around the MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory) which is a Jungian inspired personality profile. The pattern that shows up most frequently within the service tends to see extroverts thrive in the earlier stages of the career. However, as one moves up in the ranks (if they can survive the spangly radiance of the extroverts), a greater number of introverts populate the higher ranks. This is especially true of the general officer demographic.

    Interesting that the leadership pattern in the service deviates so much from the political realm where extroversion flourishes. Of course, the polls are not the ones that have actually been shot at in most cases.

  13. I am glad you did not mention Myers & Briggs personality tests because they are a pile of garbage. They were not based on research but the opinions of a mother-daughter team. If you liked a concert you were an introvert, if you like a walk you were an extrovert. MB is pathetic nonsense.

  14. I’m an introvert and becoming more so as I get old. I can research things until I reach analysis paralysis. Or until I act as if doing the research itself was enough so there’s no need to act on it. I can get together with extended family for a dinner but I am always the first one ready to leave. I managed to attend a niece’s wedding and dinner but had to leave before the dancing started. Nowadays, I mostly get my social interactions online.

    1. Oops–posted before I was done answering. For exercise I do best with videos at home. There is a fitness center with pool, machines, and classes attached to our apartment building but I haven’t been there since we moved in four months ago.

  15. I’m an introvert and I prefer exercise that I can do alone – yoga and swimming are my favorites. Even though there are other people on a yoga class or at the pool, I don’t have to interact with them, look at them, and everyone is quiet. Pretty different from a group class like zumba or the like – I hate those! The worst for me were Piloxing classes I was taking a while ago, where we would have to hold hands for specific exercises… definitely not for an introvert like me!

    This is an interesting article that relates personality and activity preferences:
    Gavin J (2004) Pairing exercise with activity: new tools for inspiring active lifestyles. Physician and Sportsmedicine 32(12): 17-24.

    Yoga and swimming are on the anti-social end of the spectrum!

  16. As another introvert, I identify heavily with the tendency to ruminate. It wasnt the best quality in my adolescent years but know that I’m more aware of it I can use it to create great work, and then identify when it is becoming a problem, such as overthinking on topics that I have no control over or can’t change.

    This was a great article! Most articles about this topic pit extraverts and introverts against one another. I’m in total agreement that we need both in this world.

  17. This is a great post and helps bring attention to those who may need to play to their strengths. Not just for themselves but for us as a collective. I’ve never given this particular personality trait differentiation much thought in terms of health, but can see that going with or against the flow of our beings could change our experience of our existence.

    I’d say I was an ambivert. I enjoy socialising in small doses but definitely need to recharge in nature. I deeply enjoy finding flow states when alone, whether it’s through mountain biking or some type of cathartic exercise. The tranquility of reticence provides space for great creativity, instrospection and self growth. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  18. I am a rock-solid introvert. Everything you wrote about introverts are absolutely true for me. I am 60 years old and still struggle with what really motivates me. I do well with team sports (I don’t want to let my teammates down) but struggle with individual sports and solo workouts. I love outdoor activities that are slower-paced and longer in duration (hiking, biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, etc.). I too am successful, love people and nature. It takes a lot of energy for me to be with people in larger groups but I can (and do) put myself out there for my work, but retreat into isolation to recharge my batteries as often as I can. Thanks for addressing this issue. I run into a lot of people (probably extraverts) who don’t understand the differences. I wish that we could all value our differences.

  19. When I was in education school, it was very much the case that whenever we talked about the qualities we were trying to form and nurture in “the student,” it was all about turning everybody into happy little extroverts, with groupwork and “leadership” activities, etc., etc.

    Normally this bias went unquestioned. except one single occasion when a bunch of us rebelled and said, “What about the introverts?” As one fellow-student pointed out, our “ideal student” excluded an awful lot of great human beings. Our educational approach would have had to consider Mother Teresa or Einstein to be failures. Not to mention most of the great artists and poets in history.

    1. Oh yes, the ideal student!! Oh, the lies I told on my applications to baccalaureate and master’s programmes!! Isn’t it weird how schools claim to promote diversity – just as long as you’re an extravert?

      The ideal student demonstrates strong leadership skills, has a proven record of community service, sees service as their primary goal, blah blah blah.

      I applied to a Ph. D. programme and just could not bring myself to lie any more. I told the truth!! I havent yet received the dreaded “we’ve had so many applications from brilliant students .. we are unable at this time to offer you a place” notification., so I’m hoping my blunt assessment of myself tells in my favour.

  20. Very interesting article. I am an extrovert and my husband an introvert. The things mentioned here ring very true. References were interesting too. Thanks.

  21. My favorite phrase from this article is “accept who you are”. The world needs us both (extroverts and introverts). As a 38 year old introvert, I finally feel comfortable in my skin (it took me some time to get here). A step beyond accepting yourself is loving who you are. I believe when you’ve accepted your personality and you love it, that’s when you can give your best self and then “happiness” is a reality instead of a dream.

    1. Took me a long time to become comfortable in my own skin, too. I was supposed to go on a road trip with a friend when I was 29. They had to back out at the last minute, so I figured “screw it”, and went alone. It was the best two weeks of my life! Ever since, I just accept the fact that I hate people, and I’m much happier for it! (Note: I don’t really hate people, I just thoroughly enjoy my time alone)

  22. Another introvert here. My day job as an admin to 8 directors, 10 managers, 200 IT people flows into my second job as an (unpaid) board member of a local charity. I desperately need my alone time nights and weekends to recover from all the noise.
    The older I get, the more alone time I need. I’m perfectly happy sitting at Home, just the quiet of occasional road noise, my cats, my nose in a book.
    The only time being with people feeds my energy is when I’m with like minded people on a similar spiritual path to mine. When I can talk about what matters to me, and hear where others are in regards to those subjects, I almost, almost, become an extrovert. Then I go home, crash, and mull over what was said.

  23. I am most definitely introverted. It took awhile to get my extroverted husband to understand this, particularly while we were living with my in-laws (so I was the solo introvert in a house full of extroverts). They would get offended (and complain to my husband) when I would retreat to my bedroom most of the time I was home. After interacting with so many people all day (working retail), I had no energy or desire to engage with anyone else. He eventually came to understand that I’m drained by social interaction (especially in an unfamiliar group) and need alone time, whereas he is energized by this and needs time to socialize.
    I think the point about being a ruminator is also true for me, as I will dwell and overthink situations constantly. That is something I would like to stop doing.

    1. As a young kid, I LIVED in my bedroom. I loved it there; it was quiet, it was peaceful, and it was mine. (The family joke was always that if I did something wrong, I’d get sent to the living room as punishment.) I continued this as a teen, and as a young adult, and still do it to this day even when the house is otherwise empty. Old habits die hard. At this point in time, I don’t care because it’s not hurting anyone.

  24. I’m an introvert to the extreme. I have extrovert friends that I enjoy spending time with because they’re fun, funny and outgoing and their attitude is contagious…but when we part, I’m always surprised at how mentally exhausted I am keeping up with them. The old “I need 20 minutes of “me” time a day” is laughable–I feel like crap if I don’t get 6 HOURS of me time a day. I work terribly in groups but am pretty efficient (and happy) working on my own.
    With all that said, I will gladly talk with strangers and can easily give public speeches, but only if the topic of discussion is something I hold near and dear.

  25. Sometimes I think that if one more person tells my 5-year-old, “Oh, you’re just shy.” as she hides behind me when they say “Hello,” I might just scream. She is apprehensive of new people and new situations. She observes first, plays later. She doesn’t need to be squeezed into a box and she doesn’t need to say “hello” to everyone I meet. When she’s ready to form her own relationships, she’ll figure out the required social graces. Both of my kids get very overwhelmed in large groups and need a lot of time to decompress. They handle those situations beautifully, but I see the side that needs quiet, puttering time. I also dislike that I feel like I need to defend them when they’re “Doing Nothing.” We seem to have very grand expectations that kids should just be mini-adults with adult brains.

  26. One of my former (thankfully) bosses listed introversion among character flaws he could help people overcome. How about no? It’s a feature, not a bug.

  27. Introvert, here. Mark asks “I’m curious, though, how introversion/extroversion impacts choice of exercise and other specifics of training preferences.”

    I, for one, hate group sports. I absolutely love watching a good hockey game live, or on TV (or football, in the off season), but I hate participating. I much prefer things like hiking, fishing, or mountain biking, just me and my dog, or with one or two good friends.

    I also hate going to the gym, which was a huge barrier for me getting into shape. I don’t hate the exercises, just the whole working out in front of others, smalltalk with complete strangers in the locker room, etc. For me, it’s stressing rather than relaxing. Now that I’ve found a bodyweight routine that works for me, one I can do in the comfort of my own livingroom, or out on the back deck, I thoroughly enjoy my workouts. Plus I’m saving $50 per month!

  28. I’m an ambivert, I think. I like my alone tim for thinking but am out going at parties and perform the the part-tim magician. I guess getting the benefits from both worlds helps to off set the possible negatives.

  29. Never have I enjoyed, or participated, in an MDA post discussion as much as this one. Thanks!