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Extroverts and Introverts

This article is part of an ad-hoc collection of pieces based on Myers-Briggs temperament typing. At some point I may try and tie them all together into something more coherent. All these articles are filed under Types

Most people if asked to describe extroversion versus introversion would feel they have an understanding of what they mean. Most people do not mention the one thing that really differentiates the two. That difference is how they gather mental energy.


are like a self-winding watch. Self-winding watches are mechanical watches that use the movement of the user’s wrist to keep them energized. [younger readers may need to ask their parents about these] They need motion and action to keep “charged.” Left on the dresser for a day or two they will run down and stop, their energy depleted. The only way to bring them back to life is to shake things up and bring some motion into their lives. Likewise for the extrovert, too little stimulation drains them. They need to seek out activity to recharge their emotional battery.
[To introverts: Tying the extrovert in your life to the dresser may seem like the only way to shut them up, but I recommend you move to a quieter room]


are like your cell phone. You can talk on your phone all day but when you get home you need to recharge its battery. If you don’t recharge your phone it may give up in the middle of the next day. On days when you do less talking you may be able to skip the charge that night but will need to watch your usage next day. Introverts are the same; too much activity drains them. They need time alone to gather their thoughts and recharge their emotional energy. Sometimes, the only way to bring them back to life is to stop talking and let them recharge.
[To extroverts: I don’t actually recommend plugging the introvert in your life into the mains – even though you might be tempted]

It is this difference in energy flow that really marks the extrovert from the introvert. Introverts are not necessarily shy (afraid of people) or antisocial (dislike people). It is not even a given that they lack social graces. Introverts merely find socializing tiring.

Obviously this is hard for an extrovert to comprehend. “How can all that fun socializing be tiring?” One way for him to imagine it is, going for his customary five-mile jog after working until three AM. He enjoys the exercise. Five miles should be easy. Yet after two miles he is pooped and needs to go home. It is not that he cannot run. It is not that he dislikes running. The thought of five miles does not scare him. Thing is, he is just so dammed tired. A late night of socializing lowers the introvert’s social energy in the same way.

Now if only we could get the extroverts to shut up and the introverts to speak up how much easier things would be.


I do not know what the correlation between introversion and shyness is. It is probably fairly high but not perfect. In other words not every introvert is shy (afraid of people) and not every shy person is an introvert (the shy extrovert might recharge themselves with loud music or as an observer at bustling events).

While it may seem that extroverts are more numerous, in the United States about half the population is introverted. A widely quoted figure put extroverts at 75 percent of the population. That figure, based on an unrepresentative sample from the early days of type/ temperament study became the basis for many authors and citations (including this page, at one point). Subsequent measurement showed extroverts and introverts to be closer in number.

Comments (2) to “Extroverts and Introverts”

  1. […] previous entries of this series we discussed Extroversion and Introversion, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and finally Judging and Perceiving. In this post, we […]

  2. […] much on the preferred Judging function (Thinking or Feeling) but also on the other preferences (Extroversion versus Introversion, and Sensing versus iNtuiting). However, the basic dichotomy does still […]