The introverted personality is one of the most interesting in the fields of differential and applied psychology as well as in popular culture. Many people feel identified with the category of “introverts” based on the value they give to the way they relate to their surroundings and to others.
But… what exactly does being an introverted person consist of beyond that notion that it has something to do with shyness? Let’s see it by starting, first of all, with the most basic question of all.
What is introversion?
Introversion is a concept originally coined by Carl Jung, known among other things for being one of Sigmund Freud’s disciples who ended up distancing himself from his master. Jung created the categories of introversion and extraversion to refer to a duality of mutually exclusive psychological traits (although every introverted person has some extraversion and vice versa) and that were based on one main idea.
This idea was that introverts tend to focus their psychological activity on private mental processes and only related to the environment in an indirect way, while introverts tend to look for external stimuli in the present, constantly.
Over time, the psychodynamic paradigm from which both Jung and Freud started out gradually lost its strength, but in the second half of the 20th century, using a psychometric approach, the researchers of differential psychology maintained the introversion-extraversion dialectic because they saw that it described well the way in which a part of the human personality distinguishes us and explains the tendencies of our behaviour .
Specifically, both Raymond Cattell and Hans Eysenck, two of the main references in the field of differential psychology, have used this category in their personality models. And they are not the only ones.
Your relationship with shyness
Although it is very easy to confuse introversion with shyness, and in practice it is very easy for these two characteristics to occur at the same time in people, technically they are not the same, and it is not uncommon to find introverted people who are not shy, although the opposite is true.
The main difference between introverted people and shy ones is that the former do not have to feel concerned about giving a bad image , and neither do they have to have a certain respect for the situation of relating to people they do not know. Their link with the “private” sphere of their own mind is not the result of fear, but rather of the way in which they process information in real time.
Characteristics of introverted people
When describing the typical traits of introverted people, the most common are the following.
1. They avoid being constantly in changing and complex environments
Introverted people feel an important psychological wear if they have to be constantly involved in events that take place around them and that present a relatively high degree of uncertainty. For example, if they have to carry out work facing the public full time.
That’s why they need to “refuel” away from those kinds of contexts.
2. They need time alone
Another characteristic of introverted people is that they actively seek to reserve time and place for themselves. This not only has to do with the need to rest, but, because of their way of being, a good part of the activities they consider more motivating and stimulating are based on introversion and therefore they try to have environments that do not present distractions .
This is something that especially affects relationships, and something that can cause problems if it clashes with the expectations of the other person, who may interpret this as a distancing or as a sign that the love bond is weak.
3. Tendency to relate to few people
This is another consequence of the way these people’s minds work. As they especially look for stable environments and do not appreciate too much situations where there is uncertainty , introverted people prefer to relate to a rather small circle of friends, and not depend on many other face-to-face interactions with those outside that set.
As a result, they are not usually very talkative or assertive, as they prefer to keep a low profile in their social relationships so as not to lengthen them too much and keep them simple, without complications.
4. They prefer the practical to the flashy
For introverts, social capital does not have much value beyond those people with whom they have a strong emotional bond. Therefore, the idea of wanting to attract attention does not make much sense to them , and this even tends to be reflected in their way of dressing, chosen not so much for its striking aesthetics but for practical use criteria, such as comfort.