Differing Brains For Introverts and Extroverts
New articles on introversion and extroversion range from glorified personality quizzes (31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re An Introvert”) to history lessons (16 Outrageously Successful Introverts). Most are packaged with the assumption the reader understands the basic concept of introversion, and already has a pretty clear idea of whether he or she is an introvert or an extrovert.
Scroll through the comments sections and you will find quite a few readers—even introverted ones—don’t appreciate being put in a labeled box. For every grateful response from a self-professed introvert, you’ll find several responses along the lines of, “No one is always extroverted and no one is always introverted,” and, “I consider myself an extrovert but a lot of these introvert traits apply to me.”
What does neuroscience have to say about all this? Do the brains of introverted people really look and behave differently from those of extroverts? And if so, what might those differences mean? Thanks to brain imaging techniques, we are able to prove there actually IS a difference.
Introvert v. Extrovert
When Carl Jung coined the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” in the early twentieth century, he emphasized that introverts aren’t necessarily shy or insecure—nor are extroverts necessarily empathic or loving. The distinction between the two, Jung wrote, “lies mainly in the fact that introverts get exhausted by social interaction, while extroverts get anxious when left alone. Introverts need solitude in order to recharge, while extroverts draw energy from socializing.” This to me explains why many couples get into trouble! How much do you know about the way you and your friends, partners (or potentials) gain energy? Find out more in Exploring Intimacy: Cultivating Healthy Relationships through Insight and Intuition.