Neustadter: Introversion and extroversion don’t dictate social behavior

Corinne Neustadter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

From the Myers-Briggs test to the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, there are many personality tests for anyone looking to learn more about themselves. Many of these tests consider personality traits as well as social behavior — their results often include whether someone is an extrovert or an introvert and how that designation affects their relationships.

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However, the label of introversion or extroversion does not dictate someone’s social behavior. Rather, it refers to how people recharge after spending time with others.

Introvert refers to someone who recharges by spending time alone to internally process their thoughts and feelings. Extrovert refers to someone who recharges by spending time with others, tending to process their thoughts and feelings through debriefing with others.

While introverts may favor a tighter-knit, smaller circle of friends, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be inherently outgoing or sociable. On the other hand, the distinction of extrovert doesn’t mean that someone isn’t reserved or private.

So if you’re curious about learning more about your personality, just remember that one trait doesn’t encompass the entirety of your social tendencies.

By focusing solely on introversion and extroversion, we negate the other aspects of someone’s personality in favor of a narrowly-defined concept that simply refers to how they recuperate.

Extroverts may need to be around large groups of people to recharge, but they may choose to spend their time with only a select few. Likewise, introverts may need alone time to recharge but might choose to spend the majority of their time around others. The introvert-extrovert binary does not encompass someone’s social tendencies.

Being an extrovert is not a personality label, but merely a way to describe how someone derives their energy. We tend to use these labels as an all-encompassing way of defining someone. In fact, the first definition of an introvert on Google is “a shy, reticent person,” which is entirely untrue.

Whether someone is shy or reticent is not dependent on being an introvert, but rather their personality traits and social behavior. It is entirely possible to be a reserved extrovert just as it is possible to be an outgoing introvert.

So if you’re curious about learning more about your personality, just remember that one trait doesn’t encompass the entirety of your social tendencies. Your experiences will have a far greater impact on your personality than a simple label ever will.

Corinne Neustadter can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CorinneN14.