If you feel like everyone around you is an extrovert, think again. (Photo: Stocksy/Simone Becchetti)
Does it seem like *everyone* in your inner circle is more outgoing than you? Chances are, your view of the world is just a little distorted.
According to new research from Dartmouth College, extroversion is less common than we may believe. “What our paper shows is that extroversion is over-represented in one’s social network,” co-study author Daniel C. Feiler tells Yahoo Health. “There’s the starting point where there’s all the people in the social environment. Then over time, you become friends with some of them, and the ones who become part of your social network tend to be more extroverted than the people in the social environment on average. And so by contrast, you may start to think, ‘Wow, everyone else is so outgoing and maybe I’m not keeping up.’”
As a result, this false impression can spur feelings of inadequacy — which could have profound effects on job performance, relationships, and self-esteem.
Let’s face it — many of us wonder if we’re “normal,” but as Feiler points out, the fault with this question lies in the definition of normal. “There’s this assumption that our beliefs about what’s normal comes from the people we see, the people around us,” he explains. “So on average, if the people in our social network are more extroverted than the social environment as a whole, then people in general will think others are more social then they actually are. But our research shows that you’re probably more normal than you think.”
So do the introverts (who derive energy from alone time) and ambiverts (those who are both introverted and extroverted) also have a skewed opinion of society? “This happens at all levels, to some degree,” Feiler explains. “Ambiverts are in the middle on this issue. While extroversion is still over-represented in their network, it’s not as extreme as the extroverts.”
But it’s the ones who prefer solitude who tend to have a more accurate reading of the world since their social circle contains a mix of all personality types. “Introverts will become friends with introverts since people become friends with others who are like them,” says Feiler. “Yet extroverts are more social by nature, so introverts will also become friends with them. So those two effects balance out when you become friends with people within the whole range.”
So how are you supposed to know if you’re a true extrovert? “Like most psychological concepts, extroversion is truly a continuum and not a ‘this’ or ‘that’ categorization,” states Feiler. “There are introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts with shades of gray between.” However, there are three big factors that can help you decipher which category you fall in. They are:
The Talkative Factor: “Extroverts end up spending a lot of time talking, and as a consequence, aren’t very good at listening,” Feiler explains. “On the one hand, introverts are very good at listening, but don’t express themselves verbally too much. And ambiverts balance these two things effectively, giving them an advantage in things like sales, where both traits are important.”
The Social Assertiveness Factor: “Extroverts will start conversations without yet knowing their common ground with the other person,” says Feiler. “They’ll also insert themselves into ongoing conversations. Yet an ambivert might talk to someone if they know they have common ground with them.” As for introverts, Feiler says they’re less likely to approach anyone at a social gathering. “And an introvert will almost never jump into a conversation.”
The Sensory Stimulation Factor: “Extroverts seek out situations with more sensory stimulation, meaning lots of activity, sounds, sights, etc.” explains Feiler. “However, introverts are more prone to overstimulation in, say, a party setting, causing them to want to go somewhere quiet to recover.” But contrary to popular belief, both introverts and extroverts find social interactions to be positive experiences. “It’s not that introverts don’t like socializing — it’s that they can get over-stimulated,” he explains. And as expected, ambiverts enjoy a party atmosphere that contains a balanced blend of both situations.
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