Extroversion (also spelled extraversion) is a personality factor characterized by the directing of one’s attention and interests outside of the self. People who display extroversion tendencies–often called extroverts–are primarily focused on the external world and thrive on social interaction. Extroverts obtain gratification from the people and things outside of themselves. According to a 1998 report, approximately 49.3% of American citizens identify themselves as extroverts.
Persons who are extroverts tend to be:
- Comfortable in and energized by large social groups
- Open about their thoughts and feelings
- Inspired by other individuals or external events
- Easily bored when alone
People who are extroverted tend to be outspoken, outgoing, and impulsive. Though they are highly motivated in group settings and are receptive to the company of others, they also tend to display social dominance. Despite often attempting to be the center of attention at social events or seeking leadership roles in group activities, extroverts are often well-liked by other people. They often think about the consequences of their words or actions after saying or doing them. People who engage in high-risk sports such as skydiving or paragliding tend to be extroverts.
Extroversion versus Introversion
Extroverts are primarily interested in what is happening in the outside world. Introverted people are more concerned about the state of their inner worlds. While introverts are stimulated by facets of the inner self such as original ideas, memories, or reflecting deeply on an issue of personal interest, extroverts tend to get their best ideas and inspiration through social engagements with other people.
Leaders who are extroverts might leave a distinguishing mark on the people who follow them; leaders who are introverts will likely encourage individuals in their charge to make good use of their own creativity in order to reach their goals. Whether people display extroversion or introversion though, the key is to provide an environment in which each individual is able to flourish and reach his or her potential.
Extroversion and Mental Health
While there is currently no research which suggests that an individual is more or less likely to develop a mental health issue due to extroversion, there are studies which have linked extroversion to high-energy arousal, exuberance, and well-being. For example, a 2014 cross-cultural study found that regardless of geographic location, individuals who displayed more extroverted daily behavior also reported more positive moods.
However, it should be noted that these studies do not indicate that extroverts are happier than introverts. They simply show that the happiness displayed by extroverts is more visible than the low-key displays of gratification usually preferred by introverts.
- American Psychological Association. (2003). Acting extraverted spurs positive feelings, study finds. Monitor on Psychology, 34(4), 17. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr03/acting.aspx
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Related Quality of Life Surveillance Program. (2013). Well-being concepts. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/hrqol/wellbeing.htm
- Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is extraversion? Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/f/extraversion.htm
- Ching, C. M., Church, A. T., Katigbak, M. S., Reyes, J. A. S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Takaoka, S., … Ortiz, F. A. (2014). The manifestation of traits in everyday behavior and affect: A five- culture study. Journal of Research in Personality, 48, 1-16.
- Jung, C. G. (1921). Psychological types. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Jung/types.htm
- Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI Manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
- University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. (2010). Analyzing effective leaders: Why extraverts are not always the most successful bosses. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/analyzing-effective-leaders-why-extraverts-are-not-always-the-most-successful-bosses/
Last Updated: 08-2-2016
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