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Introversion is a personality trait that includes the tendency to be inwardly oriented and to gather strength or energy from being alone, rather than in the company of others. Introverts may appear shy and reflective, and may find social interactions and large groups exhausting. The opposite personality trait to introversion is extroversion, and a combination of introverted and extroverted behavior is called ambiversion.
Introversion is traditionally considered a hallmark of personality that influences daily interactions and decisions. However, introverts may become extroverts during their lifetime and vice versa. Several personality tests measure traits commonly associated with introversion, including:
However, psychologists frequently rely on self-reporting of introverted behavior. While introversion appears to be a relatively stable trait, it is also context-dependent, and some experts have criticized personality tests for failing to take into account the fact that environment, stress level, and numerous other factors can affect the expression of introversion and other personality traits.
Introversion, like many personality traits, exists on a continuum—people who are introverted may identify themselves as only somewhat introverted or may identify as extremely introverted, or some level in between. People who are extremely introverted do not typically reach out to others and may appear distant and aloof to others. Extreme introverts are less likely to seek out novel experiences and tend to have restricted outward emotional expression; this does not mean they are depressed or unhappy.
While introverts do not typically enjoy interacting in large groups and prefer to spend more time alone or in the company of a small number, introverts can be excellent communicators. In many cases, introverts have strong listening skills and may take extra care to process and produce messages. Recently, the unique strengths of introverted people have been highlighted in popular culture, such as the best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.
Last updated: 04-14-2014