Introverts vs. Extroverts: Understanding Your Teen

People can be defined in a many different ways; introverted or extroverted are just two examples. These personality traits have been a hot topic in the news, on websites and blogs, and people have been looking inward at themselves to determine which category they fall into. However, the meanings of introvert and extrovert are often misunderstood and simplified on these sites. In reality, they are much more complex than we initially believe them to be.

We often hear and refer to the extreme definitions of introversion and extroversion: that introverts are quiet, shy and like to be alone, while extroverts are outgoing, social butterflies. But people aren’t just one or the other, but rather a combination of the two. Furthermore, many people don’t like to be labeled as either/or, and so scientists are doing research on a combination of the intro- and extroverts called ambivert.

People act differently in different situations. For example, a girl who is quiet and keeps to herself at school may be very talkative around her family and close friends. Likewise, an outgoing, social guy may really enjoy spending a night in watching movies.


Waiting and Reading at Bryant Park

Image Jens Schott Knudsen


The main difference, as explained by the man who coined the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” in the early twentieth century, is that introverts tire easily from social interaction, while extroverts become anxious when left alone. There are other differences in the way our brain mass is formed that determine our personality and how we will react to social situations.

There are personality scales that can be used to determine which of these personality traits you respond to most; 38 percent of people fall into the middle classification of ambiverts. Ambiverts are either very balanced and centered in their traits, or they shift completely between introverted and extroverted depending on the situation.

Regardless of which category you fall into, it is less about the classification than it is about knowing who you are, what situations you are comfortable in and knowing what the right thing is to do for yourself.

Feature image jessicalsmyers