Throughout life, you are given variations of personality testing, and for the longest time you may have thought you were either an introvert or an extrovert because that’s what the results said, right? But because you possess qualities of either personality trait, doesn’t mean you are strictly on one end of the spectrum.
There are factors that come together to determine which dimension you gravitate more toward. Plattsburgh State Psychology Professor William Gaeddert has been teaching a personality course for many years.
“It’s more useful to understand introversion and extroversion as a continuum. That’s how it is always measured and conceptualized in psychology,” he said. “There aren’t very many people who are going to be highly extroverted or introverted. Most of us are going to be somewhere in the middle.”
But what is this so called “middle”? According to an article on lonerwolf.com, a blog focusing on society and culture, author Mateo Sol said, “Jung and Briggs (personality psychologists) proposed that everyone has both an extroverted side and an introverted side, one having more predominance than the other.”
The lesser known term for the people who rest in the middle of the continuum is “ambivert.”
Mariam-Webster’s dictionary defines an ambivert as “a person having characteristics of both an extrovert and introvert.”
The Myers-Briggs type indicator test consists of 70 questions to aid one in the discovery of self- analysis. It is an assessment tool and essentially intended to determine whether a function is introverted or extroverted — not a person. This was based on the studies and theories of psychologist Carl Jung.
Senior Counselor at the PSUC Health Center Carol Shuttleworth said, “It is an interesting way of looking at people and how they view the world.”
Shuttleworth described the main idea behind the continuum as not necessarily character traits but rather way in which those individuals recharge or obtain energy. The more introverted folks might recharge by going on a walk or reading a book, while the more extroverted folks might recharge by being around a lot of people in a high-energy environment.
Senior anthropology major Victoria Appelbaum said she considers herself an introvert.
“I am very quiet, but I respect the time to myself.” Appelbaum said she possesses some ambivert qualities when she is with friends and during her day-to-day life, but in larger group settings she tends to be more introverted.
“We all need time to be in our own mind,” she said.
Senior public relations students Mike Mitchell would consider himself an extrovert because of how comfortable he is around people and his ability to open up and discuss his life experiences.
“Being extroverted makes it easier to connect with people and be more empathetic,” he said. “It is easier to work with people because you’re adjusting to everyone in your group.”
People can and do change over time. In the college environment, personality types and characteristics could affect someone in a negative or positive way.
“People are going to choose the kinds of situations they put themselves in to match their levels of introversion/extroversion,” Gaeddert said. “Someone who might be more highly introverted would be more distracted by noise when they’re studying. Someone who is highly extroverted may desire a higher level of stimulation.” For example, if students are more introverted, the computer lab during finals week might not be the most efficient study location.
Group work is inevitable in college courses. Some people may be more comfortable working in such a setting.
“It is likely that a person who is highly extroverted would be more comfortable in that situation,” Gaeddert said. “It doesn’t mean that someone who is introverted will not be able to manage that, but they may be less comfortable.”
For students like Appelbaum, it is likely they will think longer about what they need to say in class discussions or group work. Shuttleworth said, “Extroverted individuals do a lot of processing by talking out loud and with other people.”
If students are interested in finding out which personality type they identify with closest, the Career Development Center offers an abbreviated version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Gaeddert said it is seldom that a primary trait really characterizes a single person. “Most all of us are better described by a constellation of traits.”
Email Jessica Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.