The concept of introverts vs extroverts has existed in the psychological sphere for over 100 years, and many theories incorporate the introvert-extrovert spectrum as a key defining factor in approaches to personality and behaviour. While it is typical to define a person as an introvert or extrovert, the truth seems to be a little more complicated than that. A person can be an introverted extrovert, introverted introvert, extroverted introvert, or extroverted extrovert. Confused? Let us take a look at the history and methodology behind the DISC theory to understand more about the introvert-extrovert spectrum.
History of the Introvert-Extrovert Spectrum
DISC Theory is based on four behavioural continuums with origins dating back to the work of Carl Jung. Jung defined personalities as belonging to one of four different types, sensing, intuitive, feeling and thinking.
William Moulton Marston further developed the theory to explain people's emotional responses. He needed some way of measuring the personalities he was trying to describe. His solution was to establish his own model to measure the four factors. The factors he chose were Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, from which DISC takes its name. The Marston approach, in essence, includes an extrovert and introvert mode within each of the four main traits.
With no reference to Moulton Marston, Isabel Briggs-Meyers developed another model, the MBTI model, using the same Jungian model. Her solution was four behavioural continuums.
- Extrovert vs introvert refers to where and how one directs attention and gets energy. Extroverts focus on people and things in the outer world, and introverts alone in the inner world.
- Sensing vs intuition refers to how one prefers to deal with information by focusing on the information and detail or by interpreting and adding meaning.
- Thinking vs feeling refers to decision making. Whether a person makes decisions objectively, using logic and consistency, or subjectively, considering other people and particular circumstances.
- Judging vs perceiving refers to how one interacts with the outer world, whether they prefer deciding on things or staying open to new information and options.
In the MBTI model, the traits are independent of each other. Theoretically, every individual has a natural position on each of the factors rather than existing on a continuum. This classification has received a lot of attention and gives us an incomplete perception of the complete meaning of extrovert-introvert.
The Extended DISC tool combines the work of Moulton-Marston and Briggs-Meyers (both based on the original Jungian model). The four continuums (Briggs-Meyers) and the four primary traits (Moulton Marston) are among the theoretical premises behind the Extended DISC Diamond. In reality, most of us exhibit qualities of both introversion and extroversion and have levels of the two. Rather than existing as a clear-cut label, individuals exhibit a range of behaviours associated with both. The Extended Diamond does not present the traits as a spectrum. It focuses on using the DISC model to characterise the different areas and whether introversion or extroversion qualities consume more or less energy from oneself.
Coming back to the extraversion vs introversion, we now have two ways of using the introvert vs extrovert concept. Firstly, in the Briggs-Meyers approach, we can place the most extroverted individual in the lower right-hand (I quadrant) corner of the Diamond and the most introverted individual in the upper left-hand (C quadrant) corner of the Diamond. Secondly, we can assume each of the four traits - D, I, S and C - to have an extrovert and introvert approach to interacting with the external world. Using the DISC language means that we can have an "introverted I" or an "extroverted C," essentially what you might call an Ambivert.
What is an Introvert and Extrovert?
In Extended DISC theory, the Introvert vs Extrovert spectrum describes how people get their energy. Whether from others or by being isolated. When considering Introverts and Extroverts, it is natural to immediately think of whether they like being in social situations or being by themselves. However, they go beyond this simplified view of these personality traits. We can also define these traits by their broader response to the environment, which includes other people but is not exclusively about them.
Extroverted types like being around others as they gain energy through interacting. They also direct their energy to the outer world, interacting with people and things. Extroverted types typically have many acquaintances. Being social is not taxing on them, and their batteries tend to quickly drain when they are isolated. Extroverts are active paced they tend to make quick decisions, talk quickly, and use body language and exuberant physical actions to aid in communication. Extroverts are also intuitive. They act first and reflect after. They tend to use their gut feeling or intuition to feel their way through an issue, even if they have not experienced it before.
Introverted types direct their energy towards the inner self. They require space from others and prefer to be by themselves to recharge. An introvert's battery drains quickly if they are constantly surrounded by others. They might read a book or go for a walk to refresh. Introverts work at a more reserved pace. They can be slow to make decisions, talk relatively slowly and calmly. Their body language also reflects their reserved pace. Introverts tend to analyse using their senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing). They tend to be deliberate and focused and prefer to spend time making sure every action is the correct action.
How to Tell if You're an Introvert or an Extrovert
The simplest way to tell if you are an introvert or an extrovert is to examine your tendencies and ask yourself where you get your energy?
Imagine you are at a party surrounded by your friends and people you like. After a few hours of dancing and socialising, do you feel charged up and ready for an after-party? Or are you feeling drained and keen to head home? If you answered that you are prepared for the after-party, you are most likely an extrovert. Conversely, if you are ready to head home at the end of the night, you are most likely an introvert.
Let us look at another example. When you feel demotivated at work, do you go and chat with your colleagues or find an empty office to concentrate? If you prefer to talk with your colleagues, you are most likely an extrovert, whereas if you choose to find an empty office, you are most likely an introvert.
Remember that this is the most straightforward way to discover whether you tend towards introversion or extroversion. To further examine your tendencies, we recommend you complete a DISC assessment.