Extraverts and Introverts

A few years ago my friends started surprising me by claiming I was an extrovert. They did this independently and at various occasions, so there must be at least some truth in it. And my blogging about this of course proves them right. Still, ever since childhood I have been convinced I am an introvert and I keep thinking I am. In psychological tests I score an extrovert, marginally, but still. So how come I keep thinking I’m an introvert?

There’s this idea I developed years ago to explain the paradox. It’s epistemological. There are two groups: yourself and the rest of the world. They differ in one respect, namely that they have a distinct knowledge about how ‘you’ communicate with the world around you.

The rest of the world can observe the amount, intensity and quality of your communication with them. They do this by looking at what ‘comes out of you’. And this they can compare with what and how other people communicate. Comparison with others will end you up on the ‘high end’ or ‘low end’ of the rate of exchange with the outside world.

‘Yourself’ can observe this too, but you also have the unique ability of reflecting on the communication that remains ‘inside’, the thoughts and actions that do not reach the outside world, but remain part of your inner life. ‘Yourself’ can compare your own communication with that of others, like the outside world can. But you can also compare the amount, intensity and quality of your own ‘outer life’ with that of your ‘inner life’.

Now the outside world can determine your extraversion or introversion by comparing you with others and seeing where you end op on a scale from ‘low’ to ‘high’. You end up an extrovert, when a majority of others communicates less, less intense or worse with the outside world.

‘Yourself’ however might, in your own eyes, end up an introvert when your volume, either quantitatively or qualitatively, of inner communication is larger that your outward communication. When only a small bit of your entire volume of thoughts gets ‘out’ and most of your thoughts remain inside.

Depending on the size of your mental life, it is quite possible for the outside world to experience you as an extrovert, while you yourself remain convinced you’re an introvert…

One Response to “Extraverts and Introverts”

  1. Interesting post!

    A psychologist once told me that a key difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts “recharged their batteries”, so to speak, in private, while extroverts did the same in public. Thus, he said, if someone needs time to themselves before they can comfortably face the world, they are an introvert.

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