Many of us have preconceived notions when it comes to the differences between introverts and extroverts. When we think of introverts, words like "shy" or "lonely" come to mind, while their extroverted counterparts are thought of as "loud" or "outgoing." We can fall anywhere along the introvert-extrovert spectrum, but does this mean one of us has an advantage over the other?
In AsapSCIENCE's latest video, "Introverts vs Extroverts," host Mitchell Moffit explains the idea of two polar personalities was first coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who coined the terms "introversion" and "extroversion." This theory was further elaborated by German psychologist Hans Eysenck who defined these two personality types by their baseline arousal. For example, with a lower level of arousal, extroverts need to do more exciting things that would physically and mentally exhaust an introvert in order to reach satisfaction.
Brain scans show introverts have a thicker prefrontal cortex compared to extroverts, which is associated with deeper thought and planning. This suggests extroverts may be more prone to impulsivity than introverts who prefer to mull things over rather than jumping into a course of action. However, the tendency to ruminate could also leave introverts more susceptible to developing anxiety and depression.
Researchers have found human connection has a greater impact on extroverts than introverts. Extroverts tend to respond more strongly when shown photos of human faces compared to neutral photos of nature, but for introverts, the brain response between the two is similar. This puts extroverts at an evolutionary advantage when it comes to interacting with other humans, because they're able to rely on others for both food and protection from predators.
Genetically speaking, there could be an evolutionary advantage to each trait. Introverts might stick to the sidelines to avoid predators, while extroverts would roam and explore, giving them an advantage when food is scarce. A 2005 study found those that are more inclined to be adventurous had two copies of one particular allele, reinforcing the idea that personality traits are partially linked to genetics.
Although introverts are portrayed as reserved and more likely to keep to themselves, they just simply prefer close conversations with one or a few people instead of dozens. Furthermore, introverts may even be better public speakers due to their ability to think through ideas thoroughly compared to extroverts who choose to make rash decisions instead.
But, what if you're right in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum — an ambivert? A 2013 study involving 340 call center representatives had their sales record tracked for a period of three months. Those who are neither strong extroverts or introverts generated the most revenue averaging 208 per hour compared to the study average of 138 per hour from introverts and extroverts.
Introvert Vs. Extrovert Vs. Ambivert
Whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert, none is better than the others. All of these personality types have their pros and cons. When we think about it, it's all these different traits that help us build a functional society for everyone.