5 Myths About Introverts and Extroverts

“Raise your hand if you’re an introvert.”

During two different years, I made this request to more than 200 MBA students at Wharton. In 2011, only a few students raised their hands. In 2013, more than a third of the hands shot up.

Had we accepted a more introverted cohort of students? No. When they filled out confidential surveys, the two classes were identical: on a 1-5 scale, where 1 is extremely introverted and 5 is extremely extroverted, the average was 3.34 in 2011 and 3.39 in 2013.

We had the same number of introverts; students were just more willing to admit it publicly now. When I asked what made them comfortable stepping out of the shadows, the most common answer was Susan Cain’s life-altering book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Before reading it, they saw introversion as a liability. As actress Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione Granger) laments, “If you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.”

Thanks to Susan Cain’s sensational writing, the stigma of introversion is evaporating. People recognize that it comes with strengths, not only vulnerabilities. This awareness is not unique to students; I’ve seen the same trend with senior executives. Leaders are coming out of the introvert closet in droves.

However, I’ve noticed that despite growing social and professional acceptance, introverts are still wildly misunderstood. People may be more open about being introverts, but they cling to assumptions that don’t stand up to the test of rigorous evidence. It’s time to debunk five myths:

Myth 1: Extroverts get energy from social interaction, whereas introverts get energy from privately reflecting on their thoughts and feelings.

Although many people believe that the above quote from the MBTI’s publisher is true, extensive research suggests that it’s false:

This shouldn’t be a surprise: social interaction is the spice of life, in part because it satisfies the fundamental human need to belong. So if it’s not in where you get your energy, what’s the difference between introverts and extroverts?

It’s your sensitivity to stimulation. If you’re an introvert, you’re more prone to being overstimulated by intense or prolonged social interaction—and at that point, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings can help you recharge. But introversion-extroversion is about more than just social interaction. Extroverts crave stimulating activities like skydiving and stimulating beverages sold at Starbucks. Introverts are more likely to retreat to a quiet place, but they’re very happy to bring someone else with them.

Except for a raging extrovert, because, let’s be honest, that will be a drain.

Myth 2: Introverts are plagued by public speaking anxiety

In Quiet, Susan Cain described the terror that she faced as an introvert preparing for a speech: “It’s 2:00 a.m., I can’t sleep, and I want to die. I’m not normally the suicidal type, but this is the night before a big speech, and my mind races with horrifying what-if propositions. What if my mouth dries up and I can’t get any words out? What if I bore the audience? What if I throw up on stage?”

We assume that the gift of gab belongs to extroverts, and introverts are doomed to be nervous on stage, but we’re wrong. In one study, people rated how anxious they would feel in various public speaking situations. Introverts did anticipate more anxiety than extroverts, but 84% of public speaking anxiety was completely unrelated to introversion-extroversion. Bigger factors were whether they tended to be anxious people in general, thought the audience was kind versus hostile, and feared they would bomb the particular speech.

This mirrors Susan Cain’s experience. She tells me that after her year of speaking dangerously, which included a top-viewed TED talk, she underwent a transformation: “Thanks to the miracle of desensitization (exposing yourself in small doses to the thing you fear) and to the great joy of speaking on a subject I’m passionate about, ironically I now have a career as…a public speaker.” She now travels the world giving talks to businesses and schools about “how they can harness the talents of the introverted half of their populations. Three years ago this seemed about as likely as taking up a new career as an astronaut.”

“Speaking is not an act of extroversion,” observes Malcolm Gladwell, another introverted writer who spends plenty of time on stage. “It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

Myth 3: Extroverts are better leaders than introverts

Studies show that 96% of leaders and managers report being extroverted. And in a poll, 65% of senior executives said it was a liability for leaders to be introverted, and only 6% saw introversion as an advantage. Extroverts must be better leaders!

Not so fast. Extroverts are more likely to be attracted to and selected for leadership roles, but they’re not better leaders than introverts. When I tracked leadership effectiveness with Francesca Gino and Dave Hofmann, we found that extroverts and introverts were equally successful overall—and excelled with different types of employees. When employees were passive, looking for direction from above, units led by extroverts had 16% higher profits. But when employees were proactive, voicing suggestions and improving work processes, units led by extroverts had 14% lower profits. Extroverts had the enthusiasm and assertiveness to get the best out of passive followers, but they hogged the spotlight in ways that stifled the initiative of proactive followers, leaving them discouraged and missing out on their ideas.

Introverted leaders thrive by validating initiative and listening carefully to suggestions from below. Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, is an introvert who has been celebrated for writing more than 30,000 personalized thank-you notes to his employees. It’s hard to imagine an extrovert doing that. General Charles Krulak, the former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, introduced himself to me as an introvert too. When he took over as the CEO of a bank, he sat down with his vice presidents and said, “Everyone around this table has forgotten more about banking than I know. And because of that, I’m going to need and seek your advice. I may not always agree with you, and if I don’t, I’ll let you know why. If you get to a point where you don’t feel you can come to me, I’ve failed as a leader.”

Myth 4: Extroverts are better networkers than introverts

Think of the best networker you know, and chances are that you’ll conjure up an extrovert. It’s easier to schmooze when you’re outgoing and gregarious, and I’ve seen introverts cringe when Keith Ferrazzi challenges them to step out of their comfort zone and Never Eat Alone.

Against this backdrop, when doing research for my first book, I was stunned to learn that Fortune’s best networker was an introverted computer engineer. It’s true that extroverts have larger networks—and more Facebook friends. It turns out, though, that great networking isn’t about quantity. In the job search, research shows that extroverts engage in more intense networking, but this doesn’t translate into more jobs.

Getting a job is about the quality and diversity of the relationships you build, not the number of people you contact or the number of times you reach out to them. If you stereotype extroverts as charismatic and introverts as aloof, think again. Extroverts do feel more positive emotions than introverts, but they don’t always cause other people to feel those same positive emotions. Studies of workgroups show that extroverts actually elicit more negative emotions in others, have slightly more difficult relationships with teammates, and start out with higher status but lose it over time. Colleagues report that extroverts are more likely to be overbearing than introverts (it’s hard to annoy people if they don’t even notice that you exist) and engage in boisterous behaviors that create high initial expectations but fail to deliver with corresponding contributions.

Plus, it’s not uncommon for introverts to be just as comfortable networking as extroverts. This is because shyness is a separate trait: as the psychologist Philip Zimbardo writes, it’s the tendency to be hesitant and self-conscious when dealing with people who are “emotionally threatening.” There are many shy extroverts: they’re uncomfortable interacting with strangers, but love going to rock concerts. And plenty of introverts are sociable: they’ll strike up a conversation with random people at parties, but get easily overwhelmed by bright lights and loud noises.

Myth 5: Extroverts are better salespeople than introverts

After debunking the first four myths, I’d like to pose a challenge. If extroverts aren’t better at leading or networking, can you identify a domain where they do have a performance advantage? The most common answer was sales: salespeople need to be enthusiastic, gregarious, and assertive. Yet when I looked at the evidence, the average correlation between extroversion and sales performance was a whopping zero.

Why? Dan Pink gave me the answer: we forgot to consider the ambiverts in the middle of the spectrum. Most people are ambiverted rather than introverted or extroverted: they’re quiet in some situations and loud in others, and alternate between seeking the spotlight and staying backstage. Sure enough, when I studied sales revenue, ambiverts brought in more sales revenue than introverts or extroverts. Whereas extroverts are prone to dominating the conversation and coming on too strong, and introverts are sometimes too reserved and reluctant to pitch, ambiverts have the flexibility to adapt to the demands of the situation. So if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, and you want to become better at persuading and influencing, follow the advice in Dan Pink’s fascinating book To Sell Is Human: “Get in touch with your inner ambivert.”

The above article is reprinted by permission of the author.

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  • Shreya Neelam Srivastava

    I am an introvert.. and I don’t like sharing my things to those who have been judgemental to me in past…Even if that person is very near dear and loved one..! Is it normal?

  • Marc

    I generally agree with points 2 thru 5 but with 1 I have some very real issues. It has all been said before so I will not belabour the point again but in short I find this so called myth to be very true.

  • Alibaba

    The author needs to explain his points in the comment section!

  • NOBODY

    I incessantly get “drained” being around others. My favorite place to be is in my own studio room with only my cats. I rarely want to do anything my extroverted husband and his friends do. I must add that I have severe depression and social anxiety as well, which I am medicated for and sometimes those affect me in the wanting to be alone department, but even when I am feeling my best, I’d rather still be in my room with just my cats. My husband is an ENTJ while I’m an INFJ (Miggs Bryer) and he has a lot of friends over and we rent to 2 of them. I barely interact with any of them. I have to drink to even really enjoy hanging out with them.

  • Rome

    Interesting article. Myth 3 spoke loudly to me.

    I’m introverted. I never understood why a lot of leaders assumed a super outgoing personality. Granted, that may have been there natural personality…but it always seemed to be the case.

    Regardless though, I felt that they always hired personalities similar to theirs. Personally, I didn’t think that was the way to go. I think in and out of a work environment you need balance. If you’re work force is leaning heavily to one side (male/female, young/old, extroverted/introverted) you’re doing a disservice to your life & business. You won’t be able to tap into a different perspective.

    It’s probably why most of my friends are extroverted…

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  • Karmaswatching

    I agree with you Anna 100%. I get drained just speaking with one person in a quiet environment regardless of the topic of conversation. No stimulation going on whatsoever. I can literally feel the energy leaving my body when talking. Also. I think the AUthor is speaking of AMBIVERTS. Those whom are true Introverts do NOT want anyone “with the” when they want or need to be alone. Not even a husband or friend. Lastly, we don’t like to “Network” because we HATE small talk. I can’t even stand it from Family let alone strangers. To Vicki Brown – Science also backs us up, too (see below and research further if so inclined). At least Anna “respectfully” disagreed where as you come off as hostile with “Excuse Me.” Try to be a bit more sensitive of others differing opinions, feelings and viewpoints. We are all allowed to have them.

    One major difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way we respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
    Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that provides the
    motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, climbing the
    social ladder, attracting a mate, or getting selected for a high-profile
    project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and
    extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and
    motivated to take risks and explore the environment.
    It’s not that introverts have less
    dopamine present in their brains than extroverts do. In fact, both
    introverts and extroverts have the same amount of dopamine available.
    The difference is in the activity of the dopamine reward network. It is
    more active in the brains of extroverts than in the brains of
    introverts explains Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute

  • Karmaswatching

    Anna – I totally agree with you. I get drained just talking to one person in a quiet environment. I can literally feel my energy leaving me. Nothing stimulating going on but that person’s presence regardless of the subject they are talking about. And, when I want and NEED to be alone I ABSOLUTELY don’t want ANYONE around! Not my husband, friend…anyone! I think this has more to do with Ambiverts than those whom are truly Introverts and not just falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I also take offense that the Author should claim to know how anybody truly feels and what they need or want.

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  • Victoria Sheehan

    I completely disagree with Myth #1. As an introvert, when I go to my happy quiet place which is very frequent, I go alone. The only way I would agree to have someone else with me would be if they agreed not to speak to me. I don’t want to talk to anyone when I need down time. When I am with other people, one on one or small group intense and stimulating conversations are the most fun and least draining. It’s the large roomful of people all asking the basic “how are you”, “what do you do for work”, and “nice weather we are having” type of conversations that drain me. I’m also the risk taker who enjoys stimulating activities, not my extroverted husband. I’m the one that wants to sail across the ocean, visit an amusement park, or go zip-lining. Not him. He likes to go to parties or sports games where he can talk to other people.

  • Jennifer Taylor Moody

    Just a thought about the “sensitivity to stimulation” statement: this actually sounds like it’s more accurate for what Elaine Aron describes in her book “The Highly Sensitive Person”. She refers to those with this trait as “HSPs”. Not all introverts are HS, and not all HSPs are introverted. So how do we really want to define introversion? I think it’s hard to define at all. One study I read (can’t remember which one it was, offhand) explained it as a function of how individuals perceive “social reward”, and how some seek it out more than others due to higher sensitivity to these perceived “rewards”. This made more sense than anything else I’ve read so far. But, if we want to use the “MBTI” mentioned in this article as the model to define it, then really, it just means that one’s dominant cognitive function is an introverted one and the auxiliary is extroverted, as opposed to the reverse. I kind of wish we would stop trying to pin it down so much.

    • Vicki Brown

      >> But, if we want to use the “MBTI” mentioned in this article as the model to define it, then really, it just means that one’s dominant cognitive function is an introverted one and the auxiliary is extroverted, as opposed to the reverse.

      Yes, but then we’re defining Introversion using the word introverted and extraversion using the word extraverted. 🙂

      Let’s go back to Jung, instead, and use the energy definitions _he_ used. (Oops! Once more, Myth #1 is not a myth).

      Extraversion – Our energy moves toward the outer world of people, places and things; the world outside of us

      Introversion – Our energy moves toward the inner world of thoughts and ideas; the world inside of us

      – See more at: http://mbtitoday.org/carl-jung-psychological-type/#sthash.9JVZdCTx.dpufd

  • Cynthia Drake

    I am doing a lunch and learn about Introversion/Extroversion. I would love to reprint this article, may I? T

    • Quiet Revolution

      Hi Cynthia, great to hear you’re raising awareness about I/E! Are you reprinting this entire article to publish in a blog post? Or are you simply printing this article to share some of Adam Grant’s insights with your audience? If it’s the latter, please credit Adam Grant, the writer of this article. Thanks!

      • Cynthia Drake

        I was wanting to print the article to share with my audience. Thanks. I will credit Adam Grant!

        • Quiet Revolution

          Good luck with your talk, Cynthia!

          • Cynthia Drake

            Thank you so much! This is a fabulous resource by the way.

  • Regarding myth 1 – I definitely agree with Adam Grant’s de-bunking. It is a bit misleading to say extroverts possess and gain more energy during social interaction. If anything, it’s the introverts who have more energy – too much energy in fact! It just doesn’t appear this way because so much of their energy is being used up they don’t have as much left over to be as actively energising as extroverts are during social interaction, at least not for extended periods of time.

    Introverts get more energy from social stimulation and this is why they need and prefer smaller amounts. Extroverts are less sensitive to stimulation, get less energised from people/noise/lights/coffee, and so crave more of it for longer periods. They need to energise or extrovert themselves to increase the levels of stimulation they are experiencing.

    • Vicki Brown

      No, Introverts don’t get energy from social stimulation. They get overstimulated. Which makes us… worn out.

      • Vicki Brown

        Energy is a _good thing_.

    • Vicki Brown

      Energy is not the same thing as stimulation. Energy is, well… energy. Power.
      Introverts do not “get energy” from stimulation; they drain energy (lose power) in high stimulation environments.

      Think of people as cell phones. Extraverts are solar powered – they gain energy when out and about. Introverts need to go to a quiet place (i.e. home) to “plug in” to recharge.

      Recharge = increase energy.

      Think of stimulation as apps. Some apps are power hungry or memory hungry. Stimulation drains power. Introverts drain power faster under “high stimulation” conditions”. We don’t get energy from social stimulation. We get overstimulated and drained.. Which makes us… worn out.

      Extraverts don’t drain as quickly because they’re charging at the same time. (However, even extraverts do, eventually, get tired, even in the most stimulating of environments (or perhaps especially in the Most stimulating environments!)

  • wordphreak

    So what does this mean for me and people like me, for whom every one of these “myths” are true? After years of failing and being outside because these things were true for me, I finally found some freedom in understanding who I was and how I worked. Now you’re telling me these are all lies, and, again, there’s something wrong with me because I don’t perform the ways studies Tell me I ought to. Perhaps the qualifiers “introvert” and “extrovert” are themselves faulty. Perhaps new terminology and descripors are required to “explain” and validate people like me.

    • Vicki Brown

      The terms “introvert” and “extravert” aren’t faulty. The problem is that the same words are used by different people and different models to mean slightly different things. That’s a problem inherent in words, unfortunately, especially “jargon” terms.

      Different models (and people), use words that look the same, sound the same, are spelled the same, yet mean subtly different things depending on the model. It’s all fine until someone writes an article that mixes up two or more models.

      Think of the different models as different languages. You might find a word that looks the same in two languages, e.g. chat means something very different in French than in English!! Sometimes, the words _almost_ mean the same thing, or verb, adjective, and noun forms mean slightly different things. That can be confusing if the models are mixed up.

      As coined by Carl Jung, Introverted and Extraverted describe energy directions. They are adjectives.

      As taken from Carl Jung and used by Isabel Myers in the MBTI, Introverted and Extraverted describe energy directions. Introvert and Extravert (noun) are also shorthand words that describe half of the 16 MBTI types each (based on dominant function, you can look it up…)

      In neither Jung’s model nor the MBTI are I or E scales or spectrums. They are dichotomies and preferences. There is no middle or partial or sometimes.

      As used in the 5 Factor Model (aka “Big Five”) Extroversion is one of the scales. People who score high are “more extroverted”. People who score low are “less extroverted”. INtroversion is not a term used in the Big Five.

      In popular layman’s / colloquial terms, “introverted” means shy and “extroverted” means outgoing. You’ll still find this definition in many dictionaries and hear it from people’s high school teachers or parents.

      In 2012, Introversion narrowly missed being classified as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). (Not the Jungian energy model).

      The word “ambivert” was coined in the 1920s by social scientists to describe people who did not exhibit behaviours associated with “strong” introverts or “strong” extraverts. We’re talking behaviour here, so that’s closer to layman’s terms or the 5 Factor model (although the term does not exist in the Big Five). Thus, the word “ambivert” has no place in the energy model.

      In the past couple of decades, a lot of brain research has been done that supports the stimulation (energy) model of Introversion and Extraversion. Introverts and Extraverts have different brain chemistry, different brain pathways, different reactions to dopamine. None of these studies support the concept of “ambiverts”.

    • Vicki Brown

      The “myths” can be true for any given individual! 2-4 are “myths” solely because they are not correlated directly to Introversion. Think of it like this:

      Myth: Introverts are left-handed

      (you might be left-handed, but that’s not how Introversion is defined)

      These “myths” aren’t lies; they’re just definition. Try thinking of them this way:

      2. Myth: All Introverts are plagued by public speaking anxiety
      Fact: Many people, Introverts and Extraverts alike, have public speaking anxiety
      Public speaking is a skill that can be practiced and learned.
      Extraverts may be energized by public speaking. Introverts often need time to themselves afterwards to recover their energy

      3. All Extroverts are better leaders than any introverts
      Fact: Leadership is separate from I/E. Extraverts and Introverts can both be good (or bad!) leaders. How they lead will be different.

      4. All Extroverts are better networkers than any introverts
      Fact: Extraverts may be better natural networkers (unless they’re shy; shyness is unrelated to I or E). But networking is a skill that can be practices. There is a different in How I and E do networking.

      5. All Extroverts are better salespeople than any introverts

      Fact: It all depends on what you’re selling, how you sell it, and how you interact with the people being sold to.

    • Vicki Brown

      Think of your user name, wordphreak. You know that words can mean different things, depending upon where and how they are used.

      The problem with this article is that it’s using the same “words” but multiple models, thus the words don’t ever quite mean what they should because the models are being mushed together.

  • Most people are ambiverted? Not true at all. There is no study to support that. However, there are studies and books and research that shows that introverts are successful in sales.

    • Vicki Brown

      Yup!

  • Vicki Brown

    Perhaps this different phrasing will help with (so-called Myth) #1:

    * Introverts are energized by quiet and solitude; stimuli comes from within.
    * Extroverts are energized by noise and company of people; stimuli comes from the environment.

    Stimuli energy

    (ref for the bullet point quotation: http://globaldigitalcitizen.org/how-you-can-get-introverted-students-to-collaborate)

    • wordphreak

      I completely agree with your responses, too much information was left out. There is also great danger in locking everyone with a label into same behaviors. People don’t work that way. Also, re. Myth #1, there is a difference between generating energy and experiencing (or draining) energy, yet Mr. Grant tests them as all the same thing, which would, and does, create a flawed study.

  • Maria

    I also disagree on myth 1. If that’s not true, then what is it that distinguishes intro from extroverts?
    I fully agree with myth 2 though – I classify myself as introvert, yet love public speaking.

    • wordphreak

      One can love-or hate- public speaking. One introvert experiencing it one way does not make it true for all introverts. Or extroverts.

      • Maria

        I never intended to say that it’s true for all introverts – I am just stating my experience, which is evident by the use of the word “I” followed by my experience! Of course other people may disagree, and that’s perfectly OK. All I am saying is that introvert does not equal “fear of public speaking”.

      • Vicki Brown

        You’re agreeing with each other. The fact that one introvert experiencing X one way does not make X true for all introverts, or extroverts is what makes this a “Myth”.

        The Myths could have been better stated by prefacing each with “All”. They are myths because they are not definitions (but they are things some people think are definitions).

        Better phrasing:
        Myth: All Introverts are plagued by public speaking anxiety
        Myth: All Extroverts are better leaders than any introverts
        Myth: All Extroverts are better networkers than any introverts
        Myth: All Extroverts are better salespeople than any introverts

  • Neptus 9

    A high school teacher of mine (circa 1963) equated introversion with selfishness and extroversion with caring about others. I wonder how many people over the years absorbed that….

    • Lance

      Unfortunately that’s the way a lot of people still think. Giving, to most people, includes giving yourself. Not wanting to spend every waking hour with ours implies that you don’t want to share your time, i.e. share yourself, i.e. you’re selfish.

      • Neptus 9

        Often I simply don’t know what to say so why irritate people with prattle? Is that selfish? What about people who actually do impose their nonsense because they feel outgoing? But I couldn’t explain that then.
        She said Lincoln was an introvert, which he was, and was therefore selfish.
        (Not that I like him killing 700,000 people but he did end slavery.)

      • Vicki Brown

        It gets worse when you go past the Introvert Extravert part and start getting deeper into Type & Temperament (aka Jung, MBTI). The “Feeling” types can get very annoyed when the “thinking” types don’t show “enough” empathy and interest in other people.

        • NOBODY

          On the Miggs Bryer, I am an INFJ…..pretty much an emotional justice warrior and the most rare of all the types. We are very proned to developing mental illnesses that account for fear of public speaking or wanting to be alone like what I have which is Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression. I have to get away from people very often because I just can’t be in those situations long and not feel bad or bored or whatever. I always want to just do my own thing.

  • Jenny

    Hi Adam,
    Thank you for the thought-provoking article! I’m curious for your take on the differences (if any) between introverts and “highly-sensitive people” (HSPs, as coined by Dr. Elaine Aron). Your debunking of myth #1 leads me to beleive that they may be more similar than I once thought. What’s your take on this?
    Thank you for your insight!
    Jenny

    • Vicki Brown

      HSPs have an intersection to Introversion / Extraversion, but it’s a different thing.

      Approximately 50% of the general population is Introverts (and 50% Extraverts)
      Approximately 15% of the general population is HSP.

      However, within that 15%, approximately 70% of HSPersons are Introverts.

      So, there’s overlap, but not a direct correspondence.

      Please keep in mind that so-called “Myth” #1 has not been debunked. Mr Grant is incorrect here in his understanding of how energy direction is defined. The “debunking” bullet points are unrelated to energy.

  • Anna

    Hello,
    I respectfully disagree with Myth #1, and I’m afraid that by calling the statement false (regarding the generation of energy), we may be excluding something about introversion. At the same time, I’m very curious. Could you share the research sources that you describe in those first three bullets that follow the statement of Myth #1? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, and Susan Cain’s book was a life-changing (for me) adventure into the topic. Also, I completed my doctoral dissertation on social withdrawal and read a lot across separate research domains to try to get a full grasp of the notion of introversion/social/withdrawal/temperament types, etc, but I don’t remember seeing the statements that you have in those first three bullets. I would like to read more about those statements. Thank you.

    • Vicki Brown

      Excuse me, but how you gain & drain energy is the same thing as your reaction to stimulation.

      Mr Grant is the man who has (twice) published essays that show that he doesn’t understand how the MBTI even works. Claiming “Myths” by using bullet points that are unrelated to the statement doesn’t help.

      Supposed myth: Extroverts get energy from social interaction, whereas introverts get energy from privately reflecting on their thoughts and feelings.

      Yes, it’s true that Introverts and Extraverts have different sensitivity to stimulation, but that doesn’t make the above statement a “myth”. Social interaction (can be) very stimulating. Extraverts gain energy in stimulating situations. Introverts drain energy in (too-)stimulating situations. The amount of stimulation that qualifies as too much changes.

      Bullet “rebuttal” — Introverts spend about the same amount of time with other people as extroverts, and enjoy it just as much.

      Fact: “spending time around people” is neither the same as nor orthogonal to “gaining energy from social interaction”.

      Bullet “rebuttal” — When people are randomly assigned to act extroverted or introverted, extroverts and introverts alike experience greater energy when they talk more.

      Fact — Talking is not an extravert behaviour, Send your introverts to a loud party for 4 hours and then get back to me on how much “energy” they have.

      So-called “Myth #1” isn’t a myth; it’s a shorthand that _most_ Introverts and extraverts agree with. The rebuttals to “Myth #1” have nothing to do with the statements in “Myth #1”.

      • Alex Clark

        I was going to reply to the article, but you summed up my thoughts very well.

    • Dan Goodman

      I’m also very introverted, and agree that Myth #1 didn’t seem true for me. I personally have very conflicting feelings about social withdrawal, to the point where I often feel like I’m not a fully functional or normal part of society when I indulge in extended periods of withdrawal (even though in most ways I feel much better engaging at my own comfort level).
      I would love to read your doctoral dissertation on social withdrawal if you wouldn’t mind sharing it (I’m sorry if this is something inappropriate to ask… I have no idea if it is or not).

      • Anna

        Hello,

        Thank you for your interest in this area. I have a feeling that it’s always okay to ask someonne to share their dissertation so thanks for asking! The title of my dissertation was Childhood Social Withdrawal: The Role of Social Skills in the Relation of Withdrawal and Anxiety. It was completed in 1998 at The University of Georgia, and I think the easiest way to take a look at it is to go to ProQuest Dissertation and Theses. My understanding is that UGA began scanning and uploading copies of theses and dissertation to resources such as Dissertation Abstract/Proquest beginning in 1994 so it should be there. Thanks/Anna

        • Dan Goodman

          Thanks for getting back to me! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find your dissertation, but that website is an amazing resource for so many different things I can’t wait to read about!

  • Tangerine

    Hmmm. Follow that. That’s a nicely balanced piece that re-organises a number of over simplifications about both states – introversion and extraversion. In my humble opinion…

    HR departments across the globe take note now! And introverts too I guess. Our introversion isn’t a license to hide from situations we’re uncomfortable with but where our anxiety is a function of a different condition. Shyness for example.

    Two things though Adam – introverts are often referred to as having ‘vulnerabilities’. Do extraverts have vulnerabilities too?

    And how do you spell extravert? Is it just me being wilfully different? 😉

    I did look it up and found two accepted versions – and stuck with the least used.

    Great article. Thanks.