There is a lot of skewed information out there about what it means to be both an introvert and an extrovert.
An introvert is someone who gains energy primarily (but not exclusively) through alone time. Physiologically, they favor the parasympathetic side of their nervous system, which regulates and conserves energy. Introverts have a low level of arousal, which means that they are easily over-stimulated and require quiet, calm environments to recharge in.
An extrovert is someone who gains energy primarily (but not exclusively) through interaction with their external environment. Physiologically, they favor the sympathetic side of their nervous system, which controls ‘flight-or-fight impulses and thrives on the release of dopamine – a chemical that motivates humans to tune into their environments and seek external rewards.
Introverts and extroverts are wired differently – but it’s important to keep in mind that physiological preferences alone do not determine behavior. An introvert is entirely capable of getting up in front of a crowd, just as an extrovert is entirely capable of sitting down to listen. Nothing about the way either type is wired prevents him or her from being a courteous and respectful human being.
And yet, we are constantly seeing incorrect stereotypes developing in relation to each type.
Introverts are pegged as cold and antisocial.
Extroverts are pegged as shallow and obnoxious.
What we’re doing here is mixing up conscious behaviors with physiological wiring – and that’s a dangerous mix-up to make.
Since there seems to be so much confusion around the matter, I thought it was time to make a few clarifications. Inspired by this chart, I’ve laid out several examples of which behavior is inherent to introversion, which behavior is inherent to extroversion and which behavior is just plain assholery, no matter which way you cut it.
At A Party
Introverts: Are kind, friendly and engaged with others but become quickly over-stimulated and may need to leave earlier than others.
Pretentious Assholes: Assume parties are below them and refuse to attend them, even if the party is in honor of someone they love.
Extroverts: Are kind, friendly and engaged with others and tend to gain energy as the night goes on, provided they find the environment stimulating.
Obnoxious Assholes: Party constantly, overindulge in inappropriate behaviors and probably break something doing a keg stand, without apologizing.
Introverts: Work best in calm, solitary environments where they are able to focus on one task at a time without interruption and can plan ahead for social events.
Pretentious Assholes: Believe they should be exempt from interacting with others in the workplace because they find others draining and intellectually inferior.
Extroverts: Work best in fast-paced, interactive environments where they are able to bounce ideas off others and work cooperatively as a team.
Obnoxious Assholes: Want to forcefully dominate the workplace, without taking into account the needs, opinions or individual differences of others.
In A Relationship
Introverts: Enjoy one-on-one time with their partner, but will make a point to become acquainted and friendly with the people who are important to their partner.
Pretentious Assholes: Believe they are not responsible for making an effort to get to know the people in their partner’s life, as meeting people drains them of energy.
Extroverts: Maintain a thriving social life outside their relationship, but also put significant time and energy into developing an intimate one-on-one relationship with their partner and forming friendships with the people who are important to their partner.
Obnoxious Assholes: Are only interested in dating someone who will make them look good to others, and aren’t particularly worried about their partner or the health of the relationship itself.
As A Friend
Introverts: Prefer to spend time with a close group of friends but are friendly and polite towards those who are outside their circle.
Pretentious Assholes: Refuse to associate with anyone outside of their immediate circle, as they don’t deem them ‘worthy’ of their company.
Extroverts: Maintain a wide circle of acquaintances as well as a small group of close friends. Are proactive about regularly expanding their social circle.
Obnoxious Assholes: Maintain a wide circle of acquaintances but have trouble maintaining close friendships, as they constantly want the focus to be on them.
Making Small Talk
Introverts: Dislike it, but make it when necessary because it’s a method of being polite and making others feel comfortable.
Pretentious Assholes: Feel as though they’re ‘above’ small talk and avoid situations in which they may have to make it.
Extroverts: Dislike it, but make it when necessary because it’s a method of being polite and making others feel comfortable.
Obnoxious Assholes: Ignore pleasantries and move immediately to dominating the conversation, without considering whether or not the person they’re speaking with is comfortable with the topic.
Introverts: Prefer to think carefully about a topic before voicing their opinion on it. Listen to opposing arguments and withdraw to consider other points of view before responding.
Pretentious Assholes: Develop opinions in a vacuum and refuse to hear opposing arguments, assuming theirs to be superior.
Extroverts: Form opinions through respectful discussions and intellectual debates.
Obnoxious Assholes: Loudly proclaim their opinions to be facts, and put down or talk over anyone who tries to suggest otherwise.
Introverts: Learn best through introspection and solitary study.
Pretentious Assholes: Seek out information that will make them seem intellectually superior to others, and use it to internally affirm that they are better than their peers.
Extroverts: Learn best through discussion, application and hands-on experience.
Obnoxious Assholes: Hate learning because it takes time away from being drunk.
Introverts: Prefer to look before they leap, and feel most comfortable acting once they’ve calculated the risks and rewards of doing so.
Pretentious Assholes: Analyze instead of acting, and judge others for the things they refuse to try themselves.
Extroverts: Prefer analyzing after acting, as they learn through doing. Are prone to leaping before they look, but are conscious of and learn from their mistakes.
Obnoxious Assholes: Act recklessly and impulsively, never pausing to consider the impact their actions have had on themselves or others.