Introvert versus Extrovert

by Andrea Elizabeth

While driving to Sts. Constantine and Helen Saturday afternoon for a Christian burial inservice and distracting myself from my already week-long intense anxiety about public speaking, I listened to the last half of NPR’s “A Way With Words“. The call that got me thinking since then regarded google’s choice definition of the word, introvert: “Introverts tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people.” Or,

From Google:
“A shy, reticent person; a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.”

From Cambridge Dictionaries Online:
“Someone who is shy, quiet, and unable to make friends easily.”

The caller took umbrage with this negative and narcissistic definition and proposed an alternative that said that introverts are more sensitive to stimuli. Looks like the campaign probably is originating from Psychology Today. ” “An introvert is someone who has a preference for minimally stimulating environments, due to a difference in the way sensory input is processed in the introvert’s brain.”

I believe this alternative is much more correct. The introvert senses things, probably negative things, more deeply than an extrovert. An extrovert can shrug negative things off more easily than an introvert. He is instead receiving positive stimuli in more crowded situations. Introverts are probably more critical and extroverts are more opportunistic, imo. But that’s probably my critical nature coming out. The therapy for introverts is to talk themselves out of negatively interpreting things, but it is a battle. The few friends they have, by choice, not inability, understand and work with them through this interpretive process. Hopefully the opportunisitic ones are also open to examining their own motives and would explore whether they do enjoy and get jollies from taking advantage of social situations for power and control. Perhaps the introvert’s method of gaining power and control is to withdraw. But the withdrawal is probably due to the more negative response when they seem to lose. Their hold on feeling they have the upper hand is more tenuous. I don’t think they trust that they actually have it as much. And this doubt makes them more vulnerable to losing it.

The upper hand is not all bad. One feels more confident and thus is more attractive. The person will reach out more in anticipation of a positive experience. The problem is enjoying winning more than one’s fair share. As in everything, there must be balance.

Back to the google definition. I think introverts are probably more preoccupied with the thoughts and feelings of others than extroverts are. Extroverts assume a lot. Actually so do introverts. Like I said, extroverts assume more positively. I’m trying to be more agnostic. Unless someone is really good at convincing me.