Why do some people seem to enjoy social contact more than others? Does genetics play a role? And, is it better to be an introvert or an extrovert? Find out in the following article.
Written and verified by the psychologist José Padilla.
Last update: 16 May, 2023
Some people are extroverts and others are introverts. But, what factors lie behind these two personality types? And, is there a reason that explains the differences between them?
Extroversion and introversion are both subject to the interaction of different components. For example, genetics and neurobiology greatly influence behavior, as do environment and culture. We’re going to explore how each of these variables makes some people sociable and others less so.
Extroversion and introversion
Both of these terms refer to dimensions of personality that describe and help in the understanding of how individuals relate to themselves, the world, and others.
According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, extroversion encompasses traits such as sociability, assertiveness, positive emotions, and impulsivity. Extroverts are extremely active and friendly and enjoy being with others.
On the other hand, introverts arereserved, quiet, and calm. They tend to have few friends and enjoy quality time alone.
However, not all of us are extroverts or introverts. In fact, some people are located in the middle of the spectrum. They’re known as ambiverts. They express traits of both personalities. For instance, they might like having company and socializing but also enjoy solitude.
You might also like to read Ambiverts Are Equally Extraverted and Introverted
Why are some people extroverts?
Extroversion is the result of the interaction of certain biological, environmental, and cultural factors. We can only understand its complexity by analyzing the integration of its different components. Indeed, there’s no single cause that explains why some people are extroverts.
Neurobiology and genetics are linked with extraversion. But, they don’t dictate that an individual is an extrovert, they simply predispose them to this personality trait. It means that extroversion is constituted by the interaction between biology and the environment.
Genetics are linked to personality. Moreover, they’re an important factor in its development. An article published in Translational Psychiatry claims thatthe big five personality traits, of which extroversion is one, are between 40 and 60 percent heritable. Although this is a large percentage, it’s not entirely decisive.
Research reviewed by Scientific Reports on the link between dopamine genes and extroversion found that a higher rate of dopaminergic genes is linked to sociability. These results indicate that a highly functional dopamine system is associated with behavioral traits of the extrovert personality.
The release of dopamine also increases exploration and the search for new experiences. This is mentioned in a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. It claims that extroverts exhibit this kind of behavior. Indeed, they’re often characterized by being adventurous.
In addition to genetics and neurochemistry, brain structures have a crucial impact on extroversion. In 2015, researchers Lei, Yang, and Wu, from Southwest University in Chongqing (China), studied personality from a neurobiological perspective.
According to these authors, extroversion is related to the activation of various brain regions. For instance, the anterior cingulate cortex, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the median temporal gyrus, and the amygdala.
Personality depends on biology and the environment. Extroversion is influenced by culture, family, and individual and social experiences. All of these factors shape the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional patterns of this way of being.
At present, culture, especially the Western one, distinguished by individualistic and business values, tends to favor extraversion over introversion. In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain claims that it’s hardly surprising that the development of this personality is seen as more desirable.
Alongside culture, the family also exercises its role. For example, children who are raised by extroverted parents tend to be like them. This is because they learn by observation and imitation and behave like their attachment figures.
Similarly, social experiences affect personality shaping. So, if an individual is constantly exposed to interaction with others and participates in social activities, it’s likely that they’ll develop extroverted traits. This is because the context favors and reinforces that kind of personality.
By itself, no single biological or environmental factor is sufficient to form an extroverted personality. Its development requires the integration and participation of different variables.
Why are some people introverts?
The etiology of introversion is multifactorial. Its origin is found in the interaction of different environmental, biological, and psychological components. Therefore, its causes are different for each individual, in the same way as extroverts.
Research published in Medical Hypotheses suggests a possible association between the ABO AB phenotype and introversion. The study indicates that the ABO B allele in the ABO AB group is the driver of introversion. However, further investigation is required to confirm this relationship.
Neurobiologically, introversion is correlated with increased blood flow in the frontal lobe and anterior thalamus, according to an article published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. In addition, increases have been observed in Broca’s area, the insular cortex, and the right temporal cortex.
A study in The Journal of Sleep Research indicates that “introverts demonstrate higher levels of basal activity within the reticular-thalamic-cortical loop, which produces greater tonic cortical arousal than in extroverts”. In other words, introverts have higher levels of arousal and alertness.
Although these findings improve the understanding of this personality type, more studies are required. In fact, introversion is so complex and multidimensional that it can’t be reduced to a small number of biological components.(Video) 10 Ways Introverts Intimidate People
The family is essential in the formation of personality. For example, if an individual grows up with parents who don’t reinforce or encourage sociability, they may not have the opportunity to strengthen their social skills. One of the consequences would be feeling uncomfortable when being with others since they don’t have enough resources to interact.
However, we must stress that the above is just an explanation, not an absolute truth. As a matter of fact, introversion may not be the result of relationship difficulties, but rather a learned pattern shaped by the presence of introverted parents.
It could even be possible that the introvert simply likes to be alone, despite possessing good social skills. Indeed, many introverts know how to make friends and keep them, but prefer to spend time alone.
Introversion can also be linked with traumatic experiences. In fact, it’s common for victims of harassment, abuse, and rape to distance themselves from others out of fear, mistrust, and self-protection. In such circumstances, introverted behavior arises as a kind of defense mechanism.
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Why are some people extroverts and others introverts?
Everyone has their own story and multiple reasons for being the way they are. For this reason, it isn’t correct to generalize the contextual explanations offered here. After all, everyone has their own life trajectory. Without a doubt, this is the reason why some people are extroverts and others are introverts.
Based on the above, it could be said that people are extroverted or introverted because environmental and biological variables interact with each other in particular ways. This gives rise to a behavioral, cognitive, and emotional pattern characteristic of a specific personality style.
Finally, if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you might want to reflect on the environmental elements that may have shaped the way you are. After all, it’s useful to “know thyself” as the Oracle of Delphi once said.It might interest you...
The degree to which you are introverted or extroverted is influenced by genetics. Out of all the personality traits that have been studied, introversion/extroversion is one of the most strongly hereditary ones. Nonetheless, a lot of environmental factors—like how you're raised—influence it too.Why are some people extroverts and others introverts? ›
Part of this difference is genetic, resulting from the way our genes shape and develop our brains. Other results confirm that dopamine function is key to this – so, for example, genes that control dopamine function predict personality differences in how much people enjoy the unfamiliar and actively seek out novelty.Why are some people so introvert? ›
Causes of Introversion
Researchers have found that introverts have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobe than extroverts do. This part of the brain helps you remember things, solve problems, and plan ahead. Introvert brains also react differently to dopamine than extrovert brains do.
The term extroversion describes an aspect of a personality that is often characterized by expressive and outgoing patterns of behavior. People who are extroverts tend to be very talkative, sociable, active, and warm. Jung defined an extrovert as someone who feels energized by the external world and social interactions.Why do people like extroverts more than introverts? ›
Someone who finds social time invigorating is more likely to seek it out. As a result, extroverts often have wider social circles. As well as this, extroverts are also deemed more popular, because they hold traits that are socially rewarding.Why are some extroverts shy? ›
Contrary to popular belief, Extraverts aren't always good at socializing. Shy Extraverts are people who thrive off of social experiences but who don't necessarily have the skills they need to socialize effectively. Some shy Extraverts may find social situations awkward and try to avoid talking to new people.Are there people who are both introverts and extroverts? ›
These people (a.k.a., the vast majority of us) are called ambiverts, who have both introverted and extroverted tendencies. The direction ambiverts lean toward varies greatly, depending on the situation.Do introverts suffer from anxiety? ›
Introverts tend to experience more anticipatory anxiety and anxiety disorders than extroverts. Anxiety typically means your stress response is constantly activated, even if there's no clear cause for it.Why are some people so quiet? ›
They are self-reliant.
Introverts are self-sufficient, and it's why they're so quiet. A quiet person's personality is inward, which means they naturally search themselves for comfort. Since they keep a small circle, they develop the habit of self-reliance by finding ways to cater to their needs.
The brains of introverts look and react differently than the brains of extroverts. The key differences: The prefrontal cortex. Introverts have a thicker prefrontal cortex than extroverts, which means they have more tissue in the area of the brain associated with deep thought and decision-making.
Introversion isn't totally genetic. It gets influenced by your environment at a young age, and our genes allow a certain amount of flexibility in response. This happens through “set points,” which are the upper and lower limits of how much extroversion your brain can handle.Are extroverts more confident? ›
People who are extroverts tend to feel excited about spending time with other people. They have a lot of social confidence and tend to have high self-esteem in general. Other people often describe them as sociable, friendly, and talkative.Can introverts be talkative? ›
Not all introverts are the same.
Whenever we think of introverts, we usually think of someone with a shy nature, who is not quite chatty or talkative. Yet, some introverts seem to be pretty talkative. Still, this kind of introvert needs personal time to recharge their batteries.
Angry Introverts are in a sensitive state, and they can easily become overstimulated by too much social contact. Interestingly, Introverts won't usually respond to their anger by leaving altogether.Do introverts overthink more than extroverts? ›
Introverts tend to be more prone to overthinking than extroverts, but it's possible for anyone to fall into this trap. Being an introvert means you have a tendency towards self-reflection that can take its toll if you're not careful.Why do introverts like to be alone? ›
Introverts rely on alone time to recharge their social batteries, self-reflect, and process the experiences they have with others. Without proper amounts of alone time, introverts can begin to experience irritability, fatigue, poor sleep, and trouble concentrating.What is a quiet extrovert personality? ›
Dr. Bushman says shy extroverts instead enjoy people watching and are totally cool with silence. They don't feel the need to be constantly talking to fill up space which allows other people to take up the conversation. Luckily for them, this actually makes them more likable because it means they're great listeners.Why do extroverts feel lonely? ›
Extroverts often thrive on social interactions and may feel that they are not fulfilling their social obligations when they are alone. They may also feel that they are missing out on social opportunities, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.Can extroverts lack confidence? ›
By society's standards, gregarious outgoing individuals who are the life of the party seem to have it all together. However, in reality these individuals can also suffer from low self-esteem, which results in self-destructive behavior that is concealed by their vivaciousness.What is an Omnivert? ›
Omniverts are people who experience extremes in introversion and extraversion. Unlike ambiverts, omniverts have trouble balancing outgoingness and shyness. As a result, they can seem like they have a dual personality depending on the situation they're in.
Current tests consistently rate extroverts higher on the happiness scale than introverts. However, many of these tests measure degree of happiness using activities like socializing and interacting with the outside world, both of which extroverts need to thrive!Is it rare to be introvert or extrovert? ›
According to estimates, extroverts outnumber introverts by about three to one.1 Introverts often find that other people try to change them or even suggest that there is something wrong with them. While introverts make up a smaller portion of the population, there is no right or wrong personality type.What do introverts fear most? ›
One of the biggest fears of an introvert is being caught off guard and being asked to say or do something that they aren't prepared for. Having people stare at you whilst you are framing your sentences and preparing yourself to speak can often feel intimidating and uncomfortable.Are introverts scared to talk? ›
Unlike shy people, Introverts are not necessarily bound by fear. If Introverts choose not to speak, it's because they prefer not to rather than because they are afraid. The other side of that coin is that there is nothing basic to their makeup that stops Introverts from talking as much as they like.Do introverts have low self esteem? ›
Introverts Don't Have Low Self Esteem
Another common misconception about introverts is that they are quiet and reserved because they have low self-esteem or lack self-confidence.
They speak less and listen more, which gets people interested in them. What makes introverts attractive is their ability to observe beyond the words people speak. They pay close attention to details and are extremely prudent. Introverts are also genuinely concerned about others, which shows their empathic natures.Why are quiet people powerful? ›
Their silence allows them to take more time to process what's happening and take in more information. This is why, when faced with a problem, they will often take time to think things through– enough time that they can come up with a strategy.Why are quiet people intimidating? ›
Their objectivity and the ability to be less likely to be affected by certain emotional cues make an introvert to appear intimidating to other people and make them likely to be manipulated or swayed.Are highly intelligent people introverted? ›
In fact, more than 75 percent of people with an IQ above 160 are introverted.What type of intelligence do introverts have? ›
However, our research at Bandelli & Associates has found that introverts often possess greater levels of Relational Intelligence than extroverts do. Relationally intelligent introverts are often highly self-aware, observant, and are excellent listeners.
In regard to introverted thinking, the dominant functions are ISTP's and INTP's. The commonality is that they are each able to explain processes and locate the “why.” Each personality type has its own dominant and sometimes auxiliary functions.What makes introvert happy? ›
Independence. Unique and fiercely independent, introverts are more inclined to let their own inner resources guide them than follow the crowd. We do our best work — and are our happiest — when we have the freedom to explore ideas, spend time alone, and be self-directed and independent.What is the love language of an introvert? ›
Introverts are generally more attuned to expressing love in nonverbal ways and don't tolerate sentimentality. They also need more time to express their affection, so patience is very important at the beginning of the relationship.Can trauma cause introversion? ›
Yes, emotional trauma can cause a person to become a lot more introverted. Along with something as small as a loud noise more traumatic events can clearly change the way that someone acts.What are extroverts best at? ›
Extroverts thrive in dynamic, social situations and enjoy being the center of attention. They feed off the energy of others and are usually good at engaging in conversation and working in teams. Extroverts thrive in dynamic, social situations and … are usually good at engaging in conversation and working in teams.Can extroverts have high IQ? ›
On average, introverts and extroverts are the same in terms of intelligence. But statistics show that around 70% of gifted people are introverts. People are considered "gifted" when they exhibit above-average intelligence or a superior talent for something, such as music, art or math.Are successful people extroverts? ›
Please enter a work email. Public emails are not accepted. A recent study from the University of Missouri found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that extroverts and people who exhibit proactive behavior are more likely to find career success.Why do introverts love rain? ›
Rain creates white noise that often attracts introverts, because of the opportunities it brings to seek solitude. Its calming effect also helps introverts derive pleasure from it as they can turn inwards and escape within themselves for the time being.What are introverts better at? ›
Introverts are good at understanding their emotions and regulating their behavior. They're also particularly skilled at reading other people, an emotional intelligence skill that serves them well in relationships.Do introverts prefer silence? ›
Introverts prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments, while extroverts need higher levels of stimulation to feel their best. Stimulation comes in all forms – social stimulation, but also lights, noise, and so on.
- “You're so quiet.” ...
- “Be more assertive.” ...
- “Speak up more.” ...
- Any words that interrupt us (since we've put a lot of thought into what we're going to say). ...
- “You're so boring.” ...
- “Aren't you lonely?” ...
- “Be more outgoing.” ...
- “Job qualification: Extroverted.”
An introvert hangover includes social fatigue, mental and physical exhaustion, and burnout felt by introverts after they have spent too much time socializing with others. This feeling occurs because introverts are drained by interactions with others and need time alone to recharge.Why are introverts considered weak? ›
Just as they enjoy the quiet time to get themselves, they're most likely an introvert to a certain extent. Being an introvert is often considered weak. They aren't quite as good as the extroverts, who just seem to breeze through life. But that's not true, there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.Are introverts looked down upon? ›
Introverts are sometimes looked down upon for being shy and timid, however, one should not be ashamed of being an introvert. In fact, being comfortable with self and enjoying being alone can be looked at as a strength.Are introverts mentally strong? ›
“Being an introvert is actually a strength because they do take that time to process and filter their responses,” says Owens. “And they tend to be better active listeners and strategic thinkers.”Are introverts more prone to mental illness? ›
Mental health issues are more common among introverts because it is hard to find completely isolated environments, according to Dr. Rice. Introverts often feel things deeply, and without proper settings for self-care, this can lead to mental health issues.Why is it hard for introverts to make friends? ›
One of the main reasons that introverts have a hard time making friends is that they are often seen as shy. People may not approach them because they seem uninterested or aloof. Introverts themselves may feel uncomfortable approaching a random stranger. They may feel awkward or out of place in large groups.What is introvert burnout? ›
Introvert burnout, in this context, is a state of all-consuming exhaustion in most that can arises from experiencing social situations without enough time alone to recharge and recuperate.Do introverts prefer being single? ›
Introverts love alone time and need it to recharge. If an introvert is not looking for a relationship and prefers to be single, it's important for others to respect that.What is a Omnivert person? ›
Omniverts are people who experience extremes in introversion and extraversion. Unlike ambiverts, omniverts have trouble balancing outgoingness and shyness. As a result, they can seem like they have a dual personality depending on the situation they're in.
Introversion isn't totally genetic. It gets influenced by your environment at a young age, and our genes allow a certain amount of flexibility in response. This happens through “set points,” which are the upper and lower limits of how much extroversion your brain can handle.What is an Ambivert personality? ›
An ambivert is someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion, and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals. Ambiverts have also been called: Outgoing introverts: An introvert who can be outgoing in certain situations, around certain people, or when they absolutely need to.What turns an extrovert into an introvert? ›
Yes, it's true, many types of emotional trauma can cause a person to become more introverted. Even something as small as loud noise can change the way that someone acts. Roland Bal says, the culture and the society you grow up in, and the character of your parents and siblings, certainly play a role.Are ambiverts bipolar? ›
Dr Deepali Batra, psychologist at PALS (Psychological Academic Learning Services for Children and Adults), says “In bipolar disorder, the socio-occupational activities of a person are affected whereas ambiverts are just normal people who experience mood swings and are still functional.” Ambiverts are balanced and ...Are ambiverts rare? ›
Grant estimates that between 50% and 66% of the population are ambiverts, why not give this short quiz a try and discover where you lie on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.What are the 4 types of introverts? ›
In 2011, research by psychologists Jennifer Grimes, Jonathan Cheek, and Julie Norem broke introversion into four main types: social introvert, thinking introvert, anxious introvert, and restrained introvert.Is introversion a trauma response? ›
Yes, emotional trauma can cause a person to become a lot more introverted. Along with something as small as a loud noise more traumatic events can clearly change the way that someone acts.Are ambivert talkative? ›
There is no single way to define an ambivert — but perhaps the best way to think about this personality is as a blend of introverted and extroverted characteristics. For example, an ambivert might be somewhat talkative, relatively assertive, and not exceptionally sociable or excitable.Is an ambivert shy? ›
An ambivert is someone who exhibits qualities of both introvert and extrovert. They cannot be labeled as pure introverts (shy) or extroverts (outgoing).What are the 4 types of extroverts? ›
- Extroverted Sensors (ES) Extroverted sensors enjoy being stimulated by the information they pick up on the physical world that surrounds them. ...
- Extroverted Intuitors (EN) ...
- Extroverted Feelers (E_F) ...
- Extroverted Thinkers (E_T)
Extraverts may also envy introverts' capacity for self-sufficiency and self-rootedness. The capacity to be alone with one's own thoughts and even more—to enjoy doing so—is less natural in extraverts (especially extraverted sensors).Was Albert Einstein an introvert? ›
Not only is Einstein one of the most famous scientists in history, but he was also a known introvert. Leaning into his introverted nature, Einstein believed that his creativity and success came from keeping to himself. He said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”Why am I becoming more introverted as I get older? ›
As we age, it is common for individuals to become more introverted. The shift towards introversion can be due to a variety of factors, such as increased wisdom and self-awareness, decreased energy for social interactions, and a greater appreciation for solitude and time alone.