Deciphering the “Introvert” Label
The labels of “introvert” and “extrovert” are tossed around quite freely these days, but pinning either title on someone is often a shallow observation based on limited understanding. Ideas propagated by internet “experts” have led many to believe that an extrovert is someone who likes parties and an introvert is someone who doesn’t, which is an overly simplistic, flawed and worthless categorization.
So what does science say? The definition of introversion has always been foggy in the scientific community. For years, it was simply defined as the opposite of extroversion. But, while intuitive, this definition failed to describe the trait itself, and even caused confusion between introversion and introspection, according to Scientific American.
As it turns out, the work of psychologists like Jonathon Cheek, who teaches psychology at Wellesley University, has unearthed that real life is not so black-and-white. There are many different types of introversion, all of which have their quirks and benefits. Four main categories of introversion, named by Cheek as the STAR Model, can exist in an individual in limitless combinations and levels.
Do you love to socialize within intimate group settings? Do you prefer a few close friends to many acquaintances?
Even if you consider yourself outgoing, you may have the tendencies of a social introvert. Social introverts make time for the ones they love, but they also make time for themselves. They aren’t afraid to do things alone and set aside time to recharge.
Do you catch yourself mulling over your goals, dreams, and ideas throughout the day? Do you have a tendency to over-analyze your decisions?
Thinking introverts may appear shy, but they’re really just lost in thought. They pay careful attention to their feelings and spend their days daydreaming.
“Think the dreamily imaginative Luna Lovegood, not the socially awkward Neville Longbottom,” Cheek told the Science of Us blog.
Do you feel stress when introduced to a new social situation? Have you ever felt alone when surrounded by friends?
Anxious introverts spend time worrying about social interactions, before, during, and after the fact. They worry about what others would think about their private thoughts and they are easily angered and disappointed when defeated.
Do you hesitate to try new things? Or get out of bed in the mornings? Do you like to take it easy?
Restrained introverts play it safe. They tend to be homebodies and have the most fun when they remain in their comfort zone. They avoid crazy adventures and fast-paced schedules at all costs.
Cheek pioneers this research in hopes of bringing public perception of introversion up to speed with science.
“Many people do not feel identified or understood just by the label introversion as it’s used in the culture or by psychologists. It doesn’t do the job — it helps a little bit, but it just doesn’t get you very far,” Cheek said to Science of Us. “It turns out to be more of a beginning.”
You can take Cheek’s introversion test in his study: http://www.academia.edu/7353616/Four_Meanings_of_Introversion_Social_Thinking_Anxious_and_Inhibited_Introversion