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Myth Busting!

TYPES OF INTROVERSION


Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation. An introvert is often thought of as a quiet, reserved, and thoughtful individual. They don’t seek out special attention or social engagements, as these events can leave introverts feeling exhausted and drained. They are the opposite of extroverts and different from ambiverts. But even amongst introverts there is difference. There are actually four specific types of introverts. We came to understand those differences better as a result of the STAR model of introversion that psychologist and researcher Jonathan Cheek developed in 2011 to explain the four introversion subgroups: social introversion, thinking introversion, anxious introversion, and restrained introversion.


Social: Social introversion is the typical definition of introversion, in that a preference for socializing with small groups instead of large ones. Or sometimes, it’s a preference for no group at all —solitude is often preferable for those who score high in social introversion. “They prefer to stay home with a book or a computer, or to stick to small gatherings with close friends, as opposed to attending large parties with many strangers,” Cheek said. But it’s different from shyness, in that there’s no anxiety driving the preference for solitude or small groups.


Thinking: This one is a newer concept. People with high levels of thinking introversion don’t share the aversion to social events people usually associate with introversion. Instead, this style of introversion just means a person who tends to be introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective. “You’re capable of getting lost in an internal fantasy world,” Cheek said. “But it’s not in a neurotic way, it’s in an imaginative and creative way.”


Anxious: Unlike social introverts, anxious introverts may seek out solitude because they feel

awkward or self-conscious around other people, because they’re not very confident in their own social skills. But, often, their anxiety doesn’t fade when they’re all alone. This kind of introversion is defined by a tendency to ruminate, to turn over and over in their minds the things that might or could or already have gone terribly wrong.


Restrained: You could also just call this reserved. Restrained introverts prefer to think before they speak or act. They also don’t show their cards upfront and are really guarded at first. They also might take a while to get going — they can’t, for instance, wake up and immediately spring into action.


MYTHS OF INTROVERSION


1. They are socially awkward. Just like shyness, social awkwardness is a separate trait from

introversion. They are not necessarily socially awkward. Many introverts can actually be quite

charismatic in social situations.

2. They hate people. They don’t. An introvert’s lack of chitchat is often misinterpreted. People take it as a sign that we don’t like others. The truth is the opposite. Introverts often avoid small talk because we consider it to be inauthentic. We crave a more meaningful connection with the people we talk to.

3. They always want to be alone. Introverts need more alone time than extroverts.  That doesn’t mean we want to be alone all the time. We crave true intimacy with a small and trusted group of loved ones. 

4. They are no fun. Introverts tend to feel drained by activities that extroverts get a buzz from. 

Perhaps big parties aren’t our gig, but we know how to enjoy life nonetheless. Introverts can travel, have adventures, dance, drink and be merry, but we do so in our own introverted way.

5. They are rude. Introverts don’t like small talk; we don’t always want to stay until the end of the party; we find social pleasantries cumbersome and exhausting; and we don’t like talking on the phone. Our distaste for all of the above can lead others to think we are rude.  We are not – at least we really don’t mean to be.  The truth is, much of our culture’s rules of etiquette were designed by and for extroverts.

6. They can be cured and become extroverts. Introverts do not need to be ‘fixed’ and turned into extroverts. Introverts have a myriad of gifts to offer the world.  Yet, people repeatedly

underestimate our value and make us feel like there is something wrong with us.

7.  They are shy. Closely related to the previous myth, many people (introverts included, at times!) are of the belief that introversion and shyness are one and the same. But that is so not the case. As Susan Cain very rightly puts it best in her book, she notes that introversion is a preference toward ideas, while shyness is a fear of social situations. The former is tiring, while the latter is painful.

8. They are weird. Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

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