Tatyana Deryugina (Twitter: @TDeryugina)

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Introverts and Extroverts

Posted 10 Jan 16 by arbelos

Over the past few years, I've noticed an interesting pattern on my Facebook feed - lots of my friends were sharing articles about how to handle/understand introverts. I was surprised because I didn't think introverts were so rare that there was a need for special instructions about how to deal with them and because some of the people posting did not seem like introverts to me. So I decided to ask my friends (a) if they thought they were an introvert/extrovert and (b) if they thoughts their FRIENDS/FAMILY considered them an introvert or extrovert. A few days ago, I posted a SurveyMonkey questionnaire with those two questions on my Facebook feed.

Of course, lots of caveats apply to my discussion of the results. I'm not a psychologist and this is not research. I didn't define extrovert/introvert either in the questionnaire or in this post, so presumably people just went with their own ideas of who these types are (you can read about the "official" differences here). The people who completed the questionnaire are almost certainly not random. From the two questions, it was probably pretty obvious what I was trying to get at. This post is NOT peer reviewed and may be duplicating existing efforts. Etc, etc.

Anyway, here are the results. Of the 74 people who took my survey, 48 (65%!) considered themselves introverts. This is quite high! The best stat I could (quickly) find says that about half the U.S. population can be classified as an introvert. So this either means that my friends are different (this link claims that people with higher IQ are more likely to be introverts, so maybe my friends are just smart) or that people tend to identify more with the idea of being an introvert, even if an official test would not classify them as an introvert. I also consider myself an introvert, so maybe I'm just more likely to befriend introverts. That's not the interesting part of the survey anyway.

The interesting part is that only half (24) of the self-identified introverts thought that their family and friends would classify them as an introvert. The rest either didn't know (11 people) or thought that their family would classify them as an extrovert (13). So if you extrapolate from this, at least a quarter of all introverts think that they're misclassified by their loved ones. Maybe that's why they were posting all those news articles in the first place!

Now what about the extroverts? There were 23 of them (a few people who took the survey didn't know whether they were introverts or extroverts). A whopping 22 said their family and friends also consider them extroverts and 1 person didn't know. Not a single extrovert said that their friends/family thought they were an introvert!

This is roughly in line with what I was expecting, at least qualitatively. And maybe you're also not surprised, but I think it's nice to confirm ideas with data (subject to many caveats). Thanks to everyone who took the survey!

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