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Introverts Vs. Extroverts: Which Side Are You On?

Key differences between introverts and extroverts

1 Brain activity. According to a study that used a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to monitor brain activity of introverts and extroverts, people’s brains work differently depending on their personality tendencies.

The social butterflies showed more activity in their posterior thalamus and posterior insula, the parts of the brain responsible for interpreting sensory data. This means they are driven by sights and sounds, and crave sensory simulation more than their counterparts. Meanwhile, the brains of those who tend to be more restrained showed activity in the frontal lobes, anterior thalamus, and other brain structures responsible for recalling events, problem-solving, and making plans. These so-called wallflowers are more focused on their internal thoughts.

2 Processing. Introverts, as reflected in the term’s etymology, are internal processors. They often dive deep into their thoughts, swim there, and are happy to just make a day out of it. To other people, they may come off as silent and reserved, but their minds are racing, loud, and very active. These people are also able to better evaluate situations and make decisions on their own.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are outside processors. They are expressive and verbal. They would rather verbalize or express their thoughts, make decisions with others, and manage situations such as conflicts through verbal communication.

3 Relaxation. One great way to differentiate between extroverts and introverts is by looking at the way they like to relax and rejuvenate. As cliché as it may sound, an introvert’s idea of a relaxing day is a good book and anything that gives them a good time alone.

For extroverts, their favorite way to unwind is to go out and spend time with family and friends. That isn’t to say, however, that introverts never want to socialize with others, which is why experts emphasize the spectrum. But in general, extroverts will gain energy through social interaction, whereas introverts will find it somewhat draining.

4 Adaptability. Introverts find it harder to be spontaneous than extroverts. Introverts prefer to have a plan and are generally goal-oriented. Thus, they find it hard to adapt to changes in their plans, so they can feel uneasy or overwhelmed when unexpected things happen. Meanwhile, extroverts are better at going with the flow. In fact, they thrive in spontaneity, which allows them to better adapt to change. However, they tend to be more impulsive, while introverts are more strategic.

5 Socialization. Introverts would rather have a small but tight group of friends. If these friends are lucky, the introvert might share his or her most closely guarded ideas and most intimate thoughts with them. However, a lot of the introvert’s inner world is best kept to him or herself, as introverts place such a huge premium on privacy.

Meanwhile, extroverts tend to socialize with a lot of people pretty easily, keeping many friends. Though, a lot of these friends may be superficial relationships. Being outspoken, extroverts are totally fine with sharing their private life with several close friends or even acquaintances.

6 Sizing up situations. Introverts are often deemed “wallflowers” because they would rather take in any situation first before making a move. This is why they are often found at the edge of the crowd, contentedly looking at the happenings in the crowd rather than jumping in and participating. While they can interact, they find the company of a crowd tiresome and would just as easily retreat into their own shell.

This is so unlike extroverts, however, who are rejuvenated by the crowd. This is why they are often seen as the life of the party. New situations are exciting, and they can’t wait to jump right in. This stimulation even energizes them, only enhancing their personalities.

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Jennifer B. Alcantar

Jennifer B. Alcantar

Relationship Coach

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