Ah, the elusive introvert, often spotted in their natural habitat (indoors). There are a lot of misconceptions about introverted people. Are they just shy? Do they simply hate people? Why are they so quiet? If these questions sound familiar, you surely know one or more introverts.
And just like the many other interesting psychological facts about human behavior, understanding intro- and extroversion comes down to behaviors. Knowing and recognizing certain habits or patterns is the first step in getting to know the introverts in your life.
But do you really know them? With an easy Google search, you may think you’ve got them all figured out. However, it’s time to separate fact from fiction. Read on to discover 27 psychological facts about introverts.
27 Psychological Facts About Introverts
So what exactly makes someone an introvert, and more importantly, why do you need to know this? It shouldn’t take long to identify introverts within your family or friend groups. Knowing how their minds work is the easiest way to understand the world from their perspective.
1. There Are Four Types of Introverts
If you thought there was only one type of introvert, you thought wrong. Initially identified by Carl Jung, it was thought that there was just one type of introvert and one type of extrovert. Researcher Jonathan Cheek later identified four different types of introverted personality types.
Social introversion is the most common—referring to those who prefer smaller groups and less social interaction. Introversion based on thought refers to those who tend to get lost in their minds.
Anxious introverts divert from interaction due to anxiety because they sometimes feel awkward or self-conscious. At the same time, restrained introverts are analytical thinkers, placing more thought into their actions and being weary of following their impulses.
2. Introverts React to New Information Quickly
During the thought process for introverts, new information is always exciting. In his studies, Australian psychologist John Brebner revealed that they tend to react quickly to new stimuli. Often this displays a more systematic approach to situations.
A possible reason for this is that, biologically, most introverts have naturally higher cortical arousal. Translated, this means they have higher mental speed and brain activity. Because they tend to process their environment at higher rates, they often avoid highly active environments.
3. Introverts Monitor Change Slower
Although introverts react to new information quicker, they monitor changes in their environment slower. This comes down to a more restrained reaction to things happening around them. Simply put, they prepare for action before rushing into things.
By monitoring their surroundings and conditions more slowly, introverts need to hone their minds on one thing in order to come to action. As they are thinkers more than doers, this results in slower responses, but often, better ones when compared with extroverts.
4. There’s a Reason Introverts Don’t Like Small Talk
No, introverts don’t like small talk because they are shy. In fact, introverts value honest and in-depth conversations where they feel a genuine interpersonal connection. Small talk seems pointless to introverts because it emulates a barrier between deeper understanding and actual contact.
Small talk also usually occurs within larger groups of people. Two things introverts do not particularly like. With their love of one-on-one interaction, introverts can showcase their more caring and altruistic side. However, they most likely won’t initiate the conversation.
5. Their Reactions Are Sometimes Misinterpreted
When an introvert does not reciprocate the social level of others, they are often classed as shy or even rude. Due to their inherent drive to think before speaking, an apprehensive approach to conversations does not mean they intentionally ignore you.
To genuinely feel comfortable enough to engage with someone deeply, introverts will often need to know a person well. If they don’t, their social norms can be read as awkward, but that is not the case.
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6. Introverts Prefer Introspection
In contrast to extroverts, an introvert prefers turning inward and introspecting. They often focus more on internal thoughts, ideas, and feelings. This seems like detachment from others, but it is just them not relying on external stimulation.
Thanks to their innate levels of introspection, introverts tend to follow their interests and beliefs more strongly than extroverts. Their reflection gives them a more profound love for following their hearts than following what is popular.
7. They Tend to Procrastinate More
Raise your hand if you think introverts are lazy. If you just did, you’re completely wrong. Yes, introverts procrastinate more often; this is because they have to think something through thoroughly. But, once their minds are set on doing something, they will give it their best and succeed.
Yes, procrastination isn’t the best thing, but when an introvert procrastinates, it’s because they are basically planning success. This does take time and might come off as lazy to start, but it’s really just the pre-game of their action plan.
8. Introverts Excel in Certain Fields by Default
What do Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, and JK Rowling have in common? They are introverts. As a result of their choice to spend more time alone, introverts stimulate specific mental attributes more. One of these is creativity and abstract thinking.
A study conducted by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi concluded that when people have a hard time being alone, they don’t develop creative thinking skills. In addition, researcher Reed Larson disclosed that when one is alone, one is more willing to take risks with creativity. Thus, introverts work on and improve their imagination more.
9. Introverts Actively Listen
Active listening is a commonly misunderstood notion for most. Listening simply to reply and active listening are entirely different. Introverts habitually tend to listen actively, making them open to new ideas and making it easier for them to provide constructive suggestions.
Because introverts have an aversion to small talk when engaged in what they deem meaningful conversations, they exhibit better listening skills. An introvert who invests and listens to whatever is said uses everything they hear to think and reply with a decisive and heartfelt answer.
10. Introverts Achieve Higher Rates of Clear Thinking
Thanks to their perceived reclusive nature, introverts benefit from solitary environments. Fewer distractions from external sources make their thought process clear and methodical. In turn, allowing them to stick with a challenge longer than extroverts.
Psychologically, an introvert within a quiet and calm environment can come up with brilliant ideas and concepts thanks to fewer distractions. Abstract thinking and curiosity also come into play here as they feel more at ease with their thoughts.
11. Social Exhaustion Does Not Make You an Introvert
Everyone seems to believe that you must be an introvert if you need time to recharge after social interactions. According to a new study, social exhaustion is common for everyone, as consciously engaging with others tires out certain parts of your brain.
Needing time to rest those parts is common for both introverts and extroverts. The only difference is, whereas extroverts dislike this need to retreat, introverts thrive in it. They tend to react quicker to signs of social exhaustion, making them seem anti-social.
12. Introverts Enjoy Socializing, but Not Why You Think
Contrary to what you might think, introverts enjoy socializing quite a bit. The only difference is in why they do. Where extroverts thrive on being the center of attention, introverts do not gain the same internal reward from social engagement.
That reward is validation; introverts find this within themselves. Sadly this means that introverts will not actively seek out social gatherings or parties because there is no real reward in doing so.
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13. Introverts Make Use of a Different Side of Their Nervous System
On the more biological side of things, introverts use a completely different side of their nervous system in their daily life. While extroverts use the sympathetic side, introverts use the parasympathetic side. This focuses more on rest, relaxation, and contemplation.
Often referred to as an ‘introvert hangover’, whenever an introvert overexerts their sympathetic nervous system, they need to recharge their parasympathetic side. In contrast, extroverts will seek more stimuli if they feel they have had ‘too much’ rest to feed their sympathetic side.
14. Introverts and Relationships
Although no one can stop you from dating whomever you want, studies have suggested that ‘yin-yang’ relationships are ideal. For introverts, this means that relationships with extroverts offer more benefits than those with other introverts.
Introverts and extroverts within a relationship appear to bring out the best in each other and, at the same time, push each other’s limits healthily and constructively. Introverts learn to engage socially from extroverts, and extroverts can learn how to reflect from introverts.
15. Being an Introvert is Based on DNA
Simply put, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert is based on your genetic makeup. This means an introvert cannot become an extrovert or vice-versa. Each type gets its pleasure hormone (dopamine) from different stimuli, which cannot be changed.
Of course, introverts can learn to have better social or interpersonal skills, but an introvert will always be an introvert. While levels of introversion and extroversion can change throughout a person’s life, the predominant one you’re born with will prevail.
16. Introverts Prefer Being Cautious
Introverts are not risk-averse, but when making decisions or taking action, they err on the side of caution. According to research by An Katrien Sodermans, this is because they critically analyze every possible outcome to minimize risk and maximize reward.
Extroverts are known to seek out risks and thrills to maintain their dopamine levels. On the other hand, introverts don’t rely on dopamine as much and thus stray from taking risks. Instead, introverts draw pleasure from a chemical called acetylcholine, which drives introspection.
17. Introverts Dislike Making Phone Calls, but Like Texting
In today’s world, very few people enjoy phone calls. But introverts have had this dislike for far longer than most others. Relating to their dislike for small talk, a phone call to the introverted mind seems pointless.
In contrast, they prefer texting because of their creative flair in writing and creative thinking. Texting or writing also allows them the opportunity to be more concise, which stems from their overthinking nature.
18. Introverts Want Recognition for Their Individualism
For someone who is an introvert, being recognized for their individualism is fundamental. This means that value for them comes from the acknowledgment of their contribution or their unique presence. It matters to them that you validate what they bring to the table instead of how well they fit into a group.
Social engagement works differently for introverts—which is evident by now—but an introvert thrives on being an individual. They contribute and interact better in a social group when they know their input is genuinely valued.
19. There Are More Introverts Than You Think
Although most people attempt to present as extroverted, studies have shown that at least one-third of people are introverted. The representation of more extroverted people is more prominent because introverts follow their own path and not the one that’s most popular. And as much as most try to hide their introversion, doing so causes more harm than good.
20. Being an Introvert Does Not Equal Having Low Self-Esteem
A lot of the time, most people believe that introversion is directly related to an individual’s self-esteem. In some cases, even low levels of self-confidence. However, this is not the case at all. Introverts spend a lot of time contemplating their self-image and worth.
This results in them often having higher levels of self-esteem. In comparison, extroverts find their worth in how others perceive them.
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21. Introverts Love Rain and Rainy Weather
Sure, everyone likes a rainy day once in a while, but for introverts, rain and rainy days are far more than just a change in weather. Because the sound of rain falling imitates white noise, introverts think more clearly when it rains.
Solitude is also associated with rainy days, creating the perfect environment for introverts to find calm and escape overbearing situations. Some researchers also speculate that rainy days lower the expectations people have of their days. In turn, introverts feel less burdened on such days.
22. Introverts Do Not Value Happiness Above All Else
Okay, fair enough. This one seems a bit strange. Who doesn’t desire happiness at all costs? According to psychologist Maya Tamir from Boston College, introverts prefer to maintain a neutral emotional state.
This helps them to handle stressful tasks such as taking a test or making a speech. Happiness is an arousing emotion that can get in the way of an introvert’s critical thinking skills. What is common about both introverts and extroverts is that an arousing emotion is a strong motivator. However, for introverts, happiness is often not their ultimate motivator.
23. You Shouldn’t Force an Introvert To Try and Be an Extrovert
Most introverts have heard sayings such as, “You’re too quiet, you should get out more and talk to people.” Well, as it turns out, attempting to force an introvert to act in an extroverted way can cause significant cognitive damage.
Logically pretending to be something you’re not causes mental exhaustion and distraction. Researchers have identified that this can cause long-term problems in problem-solving for introverts.
24. Alone Time Is Essential for Introverts
Alone time for introverts doesn’t just mean that they suddenly become hermits bound to their houses or rooms for days. Instead, introverts operate differently when looking at the basic reward system most people psychologically work off of.
Extroverts thrive on materialistic gratification within social settings, while introverts do not. Introverts draw less reward and enjoyment from material things and thus get more rewards from solitary thought.
25. Introverts Are Curious by Nature
Curiosity and independence go hand-in-hand for introverts. This is because they are more prone to deep thinking and critical analysis. When introverts become curious, they devote much of their mental processes and abilities to figuring out whatever piques their interest.
This makes them naturally curious, and their independent thinking drives them to follow their curiosity. Tying in with their love of creativity, introverts are more drawn to nature, music, literature, and documentaries because of their curious minds.
26. Introverts Experience Certain Emotions More Deeply
Considering that introverts make more use of the parasympathetic nerve system, it might not surprise you to find out that they experience certain emotions more intensely. With contemplation comes a lot of emotional introspection.
Thus, emotions such as sadness or depression hit them harder. But, in a fantastic turn of events, due to their introspection, they bounce back faster and more substantially after these emotions have passed.
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27. Introverts Often Over-Analyze
Being analytical has many benefits, and while introverts take advantage of most of these, they often find themselves falling into over-analysis. Simply put, introverts get stuck in their heads quite quickly and have difficulty snapping out of it.
This leads them to psycho-analyze both good and bad emotions and thoughts. Although they don’t intend to do it, introverts will subconsciously replay memories and thoughts repeatedly until they mentally tire themselves out or find a solution.
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