Weigh Yourself on this Introvert/Extrovert Scale

UPDATE: I’ve gotten some great feedback so far – here’s an updated graphic that perhaps simplifies further and is more accurate. Your thoughts?

I’ve been thinking a lot about introversion and extroversion. Specifically, are such dispositions better thought of as a continuum, rather than an either-or proposition?

If so (and I lean in this direction), how could we portray it in a way that is simple and reasonably accurate?

I crowdsourced a rough concept on Twitter and Facebook, and got some great help from a number of you, especially from Justin McCullough on the graphical design side. Here’s a version that emerged from numerous revisions (click to biggify the thumbnail below):

introvert Extrovert

What do you think? Does this make sense to you? And where would you place yourself? (I’m probably about second position from the left – a native introvert who has become outgoing).

IEScaleSteve

Some folks describe an ambivert – dead-center between the two. I tend to think most or all of us natively lean in one direction or the other (and, besides, a middle position on any scale is the easy cop-out!)

Are there better ways to portray the range of introvert-extrovert dispositions? Ideas?

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

16 Responses to Weigh Yourself on this Introvert/Extrovert Scale

  1. Hi Steve, great scale and I agree that it probable that we all have introvert and extrovert traits that may be expressed at different times. I am an extrovert but am not wholly externally focused. The beauty of humankind is that we don’t always fit into neat little boxes and we are constantly growing and changing.

  2. Dan Rockwell says:

    I’m a naive introvert. Or is it a confused extrovert. I love being alone (except for being with my wife). But lively conversation with others energizes me. I hate small talk!

  3. Vicki says:

    When you take the MBTI, you get a %-age in your results. So yes, some people shoe more strongly I vs E, at least based on the test.

    Keep in mind that “outgoing” had nothing to do with I vs E. The question isn;t whether you’re outgoing or not, like people or not, reads books or not. The question is how you get/expend energy. There are also brain scan studies that show that Introverts and Extraverts have different neurological pathways. They react differently to dopamine.

    It’s not just “behaviour”.

  4. I think we are on a sliding scale. I think we can slide back and forth depending on things like environment or audience or subject/context. Think of it as “in your element”, and when you are not, you’ll be in a different part of the scale. I think only the most severe of either sides can “stay” there – the rest of us ride back and forth. Says this guy. :)

  5. Great input, folks. Here’s a revision that perhaps is more simple and accurate?? http://ow.ly/i/1kxIk/original

  6. @samfiorella says:

    My experience: Introvert/extrovert is becoming more a function of situation than personality. I’ve met people online or in a specific in-person settings that I would have pegged extroverts but they classify themselves introverts.

    Social Media can make an introvert more willing and accepting of being around and engaging people. Conversely, some physical group settings or specific groups of people can make the extrovert less, well, extroverted.

    I like the idea of a continuum. We slide back and forth across the scale based on the increasing situational influences surrounding out day to day interactions.

  7. Continuum or not, you are either a native introvert or extrovert. You can gin ways to roll with certain things that can feed you, but you do not change the core of who you are.

    Too many have a skewed definition of introvert which is why it is confusing for many. Start there, know what it really means to be an introvert.

  8. Very interesting thoughts. I believe, like Michele, that we have a fundamental disposition or orientation leaning in one direction or the other (me: Introvert). I also believe that people can move somewhat over their lives in one direction or the other (for instance, I am now more outgoing than I used to be, but that doesn’t transform my core introvert wiring). So, I put it in the form of continuum because I don’t think a binary Introvert/Extrovert label captures the varying I/E depth across individuals. WITH THAT SAID, I also believe that individuals can situationally adopt and grow in behaviors that “stretch” their wiring (in some settings, I come across as quite sociable and assertive) – but this doesn’t change their fundamental place in the continuum. So, situational behaviors is not actually what I’m trying to get at with the continuum as depicted (though I can understand how it might be interpreted that way).

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  10. Meredith Gould says:

    Apropos of this topic, #chsocm (church social media) chat folks had a “robust” (sorry about the jargon but it’s irresistible) about the correlation between MBTI findings and social media preference/use.

    Turns out that introverts (and that would include me!) tend to embrace social media more readily than extroverts because, for one thing, we can manage the flow of input/noise. The chat transcript is available on the #chsocm blog. You and your readers are most welcome to review and mine it for useful nuggets.

    As for the continuum — yes. As a sociologist, I would factor in social and demographic variables to enhance what is generally understood as a psychological concept. But that’s just me. Sociologist!

  11. I think I weigh about the same as you, Steve. An introvert, but one with outgoing tendencies. I need time alone to recharge, particularly after I speak or after I’ve attended a conference, but I can do it while people assume I’m an extrovert.

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  13. Susan Mazza says:

    Definite introvert with extrovert adaptations. Like Dan I prefer engaging conversation over small talk. I think for me the only time I really enjoy being in a large crowd is when there is something meaningful and engaging that connects people in a learning experience or example vs. a bunch of strangers like in a concert or crowded bar.

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