Extroverts are often described as the life of the party. Their outgoing, vibrant nature draws people to them, and they have a hard time turning away the attention. They thrive off the interaction.
On the opposite side are introverts. These people are typically described as more reserved. They may engage in a multitude of social activities, but they need time away from others to recharge their energy.
In the 1960s, psychologist Carl Jung first described introverts and extraverts when discussing personality elements. (The term now commonly used is extroverts.) He classified these two groups based on where they found their source of energy. In short, Jung argued extroverts are energized by crowds and interaction with the external world. Introverts need alone time to recharge, and they’re often more reserved in their manners and engagement with others.
As Jung discovered, being an extrovert isn’t an all or nothing option. Instead, most people fall somewhere on a spectrum between the two polar ends. In the years since Jung’s theories first became popular, research has discovered there are genetic and hormonal reasons some people display more extroverted characteristics than others.
Personality traits of an extrovert
Here are some common personality traits associated with extroversion:
You enjoy social settings
People with more extroverted tendencies are often the center of attention — and they like it that way. They thrive in social situations, and they seek out social stimulation. Extroverts often aren’t afraid to introduce themselves to new people, and they rarely avoid unfamiliar situations for fear of messing up or not knowing someone.
You don’t like or need a lot of alone time
While introverts need to escape to their homes or offices after a night out with friends or an intense meeting, extroverts find that too much alone time drains their natural energy. They recharge their internal batteries by being around other people.
You thrive around people
Extroverts feel comfortable in large groups. They may be more likely to spearhead group sports or group outings. They may be the ring leader for weekend activities, after-work cocktail hours, or other social events. They rarely turn down invitations to weddings, parties, and other gatherings.
You’re friends with many people
Extroverts make new friends easily. This is in part because they enjoy other people’s energy and getting to engage with people around them. They also tend to have a large social network and many acquaintances. With pursuing new interests and activities, extroverts are often keen to expand their social circles.
You prefer to talk out problems or questions
While introverts are more likely to internalize problems and think through them, extroverts don’t mind taking their problems to others for discussion and guidance. They’re often more willing to express themselves openly and make clear their preferences or choices.
You’re outgoing and optimistic
Extroverts are often described as happy, positive, cheerful, and sociable. They aren’t as likely to dwell on problems or ponder difficulties. While they experience difficulties and troubles like anyone else, extroverts are often more able to let it roll off their backs.
You aren’t afraid of risk
Extroverts may engage in risky behavior. Some theories assert that their brain is wired to reward them for it if it goes well. One found that extroverts who take risks and succeed are rewarded with dopamine, a chemical that triggers the reward center of the brain. In the case of the study, participants gambled, but the response could be true for any number of activities.
Extroverts may be more willing to take risks because the benefit is a surge of chemicals that stimulate the brain.
Extroverts are often adaptable to any situation and innovative when problems arise. While they may be organized, not all extroverts need a plan of action before they can begin a project, plan a vacation, or undertake any task. Spontaneous decisions may be welcomed.
Extroversion is a spectrum
If you think you don’t match all the extroverted characteristics, you’re not alone. The reality is, most people do fall somewhere in the middle. Very few people are purely one type of personality. Even people who couldn’t dream of spending a Saturday night at home for fear of missing out on a great party need time to themselves occasionally.
Also, people can change personalities over the course of a lifetime. You may be more introverted as a child but find that you’re more extroverted as an adult. Fluctuations in the personality spectrum are normal. Some people even work to be more or less extroverted with help from therapists or self-help programs.
Of course, a large part of your personality is determined even before you make your first friend. Your genes play a role in your personality. In fact, one study found that the genes that control how your brain responds to dopamine may predict your personality characteristics.
Of course, brain chemistry isn’t the only factor involved in determining where you fall along the personality continuum, from introvert to extrovert. Your personality traits are part of your evolution and growth as an individual. They’re what make you unique.