Extroversion: The Depth You Have Not Seen

Extroversion, or extraversion, is one of the factors from the Big Five personality model. This personality trait is characterized by an orientation of an individual’s energies and interests towards the outer world of social experiences rather than the inner world of subjective feelings and thoughts.

The trait indicates a continuum of behaviors and attitudes, ranging from low (introverted), neutral (ambivert), to high (extroverted). Extroverts are comparably sociable, outgoing, gregarious, and tend to be openly expressive. On the contrary, introverts are relatively more reserved, conserve their energies, and tend to be internally expressive. 

You can read this article to find out if you are an extrovert or an introvert, or I recommend taking this test to discover more.

1. The six facets of extroversion

According to the International Personality Item Pool, there are six facets in each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits. The facets of the extroversion domain are:

Friendliness: a quality of being friendly, pleasant, and accommodating in social situations. Friendly people make friends quickly and find it easy to form intimate relationships. They are willing to spend time forming relationshipsandexpanding their network circles. Unfriendly individuals are often perceived as hostile and distant by others. They simply do not reach out to initiate a friendship or expand their connections. 

This trait indicates the general desires of a person to make friends and create friendships. Its meaning leans more towards the formation of close relationships and the tendency to behave hospitable and companionable with others. Friendliness does not relate to how somebody desires  to be in the crowd or group activities.

Friendly behaviors cultivate friendship, form intimate relationships, and broaden one’s social connections

Gregariousness: American Psychological Association describes this facet as the tendency for an individual to be fond of the company of others and want to associate with them in social activities. Gregariousness gives people security, acceptance, companionship, and a sense of belonging. They like the stimulation of being around and interacting with several people. 

However, this stimulation is not favored by non-gregarious people. They would find these events uncomfortable, unpleasant, and even annoying.

Assertiveness: People often do not think of assertiveness as part of extroversion, but it is indeed. Assertiveness indicates characteristics where a person is firm and bold, confident and dominant, decisive and determined, and willing to express themselves externally. They are able to be in charge or take control of group activities.

Depending on different circumstances, this aspect still appears in introverts, yet with lower frequency,compared to extroverts. Introverts can be assertive if they think it is necessary to speak up and behave firmly.

Activity level: Similar to assertiveness, this facet is not commonly thought to be part of extroversionthe common understanding of extroversion does not always refer to this facet. Activity level illustrates the tendency to enjoy having a fast-paced and action-packed lifestyle. Individuals with high levels of this facet are energetic, sprightly and industrious. 

Activity level does not mean searching for new and exciting experiences, but rather the frequency of these activities.. Those who prefer a slower pace tend to scatter their schedule with a lower density of activities. Slow-pace life is more suitable for them because they want to truly enjoy the quality instead of the number of the activities.

A crowded city is often is an ideal environment for those who score high in the facet of activity level

Excitement-seeking: Unlike assertiveness and activity level, this facet aligns well with the common understanding of extroversion. Someone who enjoys seeking excitement gets easily bored. They seek high levels of strong stimulations such as crowded places, cheerful events with loud music and bright lights. Such stimulation can be undesirable, inconvenient, and overwhelming to the more introverted counterparts. who tend to prefer more peaceful and relaxing surroundings.

Cheerfulness: Mood, bright emotions, and positive responses are what this facet  about. Cheerful people have relatively high levels of bright feelings, such as joy or enthusiasm, and positive interactions with others. People who have lower levels of cheerfulness experience fewer delights or optimism and are often perceived as less warm and positive towards others.

The absence of cheerfulness, however, does not necessarily mean there are only negative emotions. These are two different things and they are not correlated to each other. In reality, a majority of people tend to mistake these two matters and wrongly label the absence of cheerfulness as negativity.

Acquiring a thorough insight into the six facets would provide you with a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of extroversion. Looking at an extrovert, you can see more details into his or her behaviors, feelings, and reactions to daily situations.

2. Career recommendations for extroverts

Extroverts enjoy expressing themselves externally and interacting with others to exchange knowledge and make friends. An open, high-energy workplace that encourages verbal exchange and teamwork would be an ideal environment for extroverts. 

Extroverts excel in these jobs:
Lawyer / law consultant
Teacher / lecturer / professor
Sale manager / execution planner
Public relation staff
Nurse / caregiver
Human resources consultant
Tour guide
Project manager
Event planner
MC / radio speaker
Financial specialist
Social media influencer
Community service staff

Open working environments which encourage group-based activities and verbal interactions are ideal for extroverts

3. Career suggestions for introverts

For those who tend to conserve their feelings, energy, and want to gain full control of their work using minimal social interactions, a quiet job would be more suitable. Introverts thrive in a calm and peaceful environment because they can fully concentrate on the process without interruptions and distractions from others.

These suggested jobs are more appropriate for those who score low in extroversion:

Computer programmer
Web developer
Software engineer
Data analyst
Social media marketing
Interior / landscape / graphic designer
Librarian
Electrical engineering specialist
Scientist / researcher
Interpreter / translator
Writer / content creator / poet
Artist
Carpenter
Baker / private chef
Music composer
Photographer
Self-employed / freelancer

Librarian is one of the ideal jobs for those who enjoy a quiet and peaceful working environment.

4. The challenge of teaching introverts and educational approaches to unlock their potential

For young children with high levels of introversion, group discussions and engagement points in the classroom might not be the best approach to evaluate their actual ability. According to Susan Cain in her best-selling book, some young introverts have to pretend to be extroverts to fit in this education system for the sake of overall grades and other schooling benefits.

4.1 Introverted students tend not to excel in large groups

When introverted students are required to perform in large groups, they are likely to not perform well. Group-based tasks are designed in the way of bringing everyone an equal chance to speak up an opinion, raise a problem, and solve that problem together. 

However, while teachers think they have created an equal opportunity for all students, the reality is often different. Susan Cain pointed out that it often leads to “the most dominant student or the one who cares most about the grades doing all the tasks and taking over”. Introverted students would excel when performing the tasks individually in quiet surroundings , which allows their creativity and thoughtfulness to be maximized.

4.2 Technology can help introverts speak up their ideas

Technology-based platforms can ease the uncomfortable feelings and enable introverts to find their voice in classrooms and group activities. Game-based learning platforms, such as Gimkit and Kahoot, can assist teachers efficiently. For instance, teachers can set the response settings either in anonymous mode or public mode. Anonymous mode means only the teacher gets to know who provides this answer, while public mode allows the entire class to view the provider’s name. 

Introverts can be assertive, bold, and become competitive if they think it is necessary to behave so. As a result, public mode is an excellent opportunity to encourage competitiveness and public recognition. In a world that cannot stop talking, the power of introverts needs to be identified and recognized, especially in the classroom.

5. Teaching strategies to work with extroverted students

5.1 Approach extroverts with a smile to balance out extroversion and introversion

More often, extroverted students are more socially dominant  than their introverted counterparts. This can sometimes become a problem for teachers who want to pay equal attention to all students in the class. Approach young extroverts with a smile and remind him or her to tone it down a bit, so that teachers can have more interactions with other students.  

5.2 Extroverted students enjoy compliments and surprises

If introverted individuals perform better in quiet and calm surroundings, their counterparts enjoy expressing themselves verbally. For example, they are the ones who enjoy making demonstrations or coming up to the front of the classroom. They would feel valued and recognized if teachers compliment them on their initiative and enthusiasm

Cfchildren.org stated that extroverted students like to be surprised. Little surprises in the classroom helps to boost the engagement and excitement of young extroverts. They are more like a “curious cat” that gets nervous towards the surprise, yet excited at the same time. Teachers can leverage morning times to create little surprises as a positive feedback to extroverted students. This is a great way to level up their energy from the beginning of the day and make sure they are readily involved for the lesson. 

Conclusion: The hidden depth of extroversion, and the vital role of educators

The general expression of extroversion, based on popular definitions, might stop at friendliness and excitement seeking. Digging deeper into the six facets of this trait, we now know it also exhibits different dimensions of gregariousness, assertiveness, cheerfulness and activity level. 

Balancing the introversion and extroversion of the students in the classroom are very important. Teachers are encouraged to create multi-purpose activities that fit both types of students. Enhancing the advantage of technology, such as game-based learning platforms, could help teachers to modify and diversify the activities in their classroom to fit different preferences in extroversion. 

Reference:

How to Know If You Are An Introvert or Extrovert?

Let’s start with the definitions:

The simplified definition of introversion-extroversion scale is the source where an individual gain energy from. An introvert will gain energy reflecting and listening to his inner world of thoughts, feelings or ideas. Meanwhile, an extrovert is energized by interacting with surrounding people, ideas or projects and will get bored being left alone for too long.

I would like to clarify some common misconceptions. Many tests give you results in percentage such as 70% Introvert, 30% Extrovert. However, this does not mean you are a different type 30% of the time. Being 90% or 51% introverted still means you have an introverted outlook in life. Being more in the middle of the scale probably means you are more versatile in channeling your energy to meet extraverted tasks.

Being more introverted does not guarantee you are a loner, unfriendly or have very few friends either. It is simply a generalized tendency,. Introverts are very capable of being confident in public speaking or having more friends than an extrovert. Outward behaviors can be misleading. Being an introvert or extrovert is deeper than that, going to the core values and overall attitude towards the outside world. So read below for 3 guidelines which will help you better decide which side you are on. 

Extroverts seek social approval while introverts prioritize individuality

From a sociology point of view, since the time where mankind still lives in cave and in small closely-knitted communities, there are two distinct social strategies. One one hand, one may regard the community’s standards and needs as absolute and everything he thinks or does ultimately allows him to be better recognized by the tribe. The introvert’s ultimate basis is his own needs and himself. It is not about being selfish, but prioritizing individual perspectives and standards over the norms.

For example, an introverted feeling-dominant person will prioritize his moral standards and his subjective experience over the tribe’s. Such a type is the inspiration for the typical protagonist in many classic romance stories where the character is willing to fight and suffer for a personal passion despite resistance from the community or family. An extraverted feeling person, as you can guess, would more likely to follow what the social norms dictate.

introvert feeling in Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a good illustration of introverted feeling

In the case of thinking, an extraverted thinkers will have the habit of thinking how to obtain knowledge from well-validated external sources and to apply a principle or rule to as many people as possible. An introverted thinker, on the other hand, is often more comfortable relying on his original understanding of how things work and how he can “game the system” to obtain what he wants.

Extroverts prefer quantity while introverts want quality

Carl Jung himself mentioned in his book that the extroversion scale points beyond humans to include all living organisms. In the same population of a specific species, on one end of the spectrum are individuals who are more aggressive and less discriminate in acquiring food and mates. On the other end, there are those that prefer to conserve energy, striking with fewer but more efficient attempts.

Of course, like many other biological drives, introversion-extroversion has grown to be more complex in humans. But the general principle stays the same: extroverts prefer to expand their energy while introvert conserves. Both are valid survival strategies. It explains many different outward behaviors between the two types, like how introverts tend to prefer fewer but closer friends or how extroverts seem more outgoing and socially assertive in pursuing their goals. 

Extroverts are often generalists while introverts are specialists

Introverts often can think and work for much longer on a single topic or project, obtaining more unique and in-depth insights than their extroverted counterparts. Extroverts, like Thomas Edison, are of course capable of invention and creating ideas. However, what introverts are naturally good at is depth in subject matters. They are certainly over-represented in professions such as research, writing, drawing, engineering etc.

Meanwhile, extroverts often use ideas to achieve real world objectives. They are over-represented as managers, politicians, marketers… They usually prefer well-validated or popular knowledge and have relatively less patience to dwell on a topic for too long.

Conclusion

If you are a so-called ambivert, trying to pinpoint the side of this spectrum is not an easy task and personality tests online often do not help due to a lack of accuracy. I believe the best way to do is to contemplate the 3 principles above and search within yourself about what you really want. 

Most of us want success or popularity eventually, but does that success needs to come from your original understanding and ingenuity? Do you often distrust the mass and wish everyone can be more unique and think more for themselves? If those questions constantly itch you, you are more likely to be introverted than extroverted. 

Yardstick Introvert Extrovert
Social approval Have a general dislike and often question popular ideas , standards or tastes Seek to achieve socially-approved concepts and objectives without “overthinking”
Quantity versus quality Prefer quality, being picky (job, relationship…) Want to experience it all, easy-going and easy to blend in
Generalist versus specialist Are often specialist Are often generalist