Extroversion -- along with its counterpart, introversion -- refers to an integral part of the human personality. These terms, made popular by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1970s, describe where people obtain and expend their intellectual energy. To understand the dynamics of extroversion, it is necessary to address its origins, the myths surrounding it, and its essential characteristics. It is also vital to remember that personality types exist on a spectrum; the most common characteristics used to describe extroverts will not be applicable to every extroverted individual.
Tendencies toward extroversion exist deep within the brain. The rear parts of extroverts' brains, which are stimulated by external events, are most active, according to researcher Dan Buettner in his article for Psychology Today, titled "Are Extroverts Happier Than Introverts?" This suggests that even at the earliest ages, individuals display relevant characteristics. While some develop personalities that fall on the extreme ends of the personality scale -- highly extroverted, for instance -- it is noteworthy that most people land somewhere in between. For example, many extroverts enjoy occasional solitude.
Myths and Misconceptions
A multitude of myths and misconceptions surround the concept of extroversion. Some people believe that extroverts are poor listeners, for instance, and that they are always happy. Extroverts can actually be effective listeners because their social abilities allow them to ask open-ended and insightful questions, according to Margarita Tartakovsky in her article for Psych Central titled, "7 Persistent Myths About Introverts & Extroverts." Furthermore, Buettner contends that extroverts may enjoy energized and stimulating activities, but this is not always indicative of happiness. Instead, happiness depends on factors such as a healthy perception of oneself and a trustworthy network of support.
Energy and Sociability
Because extroverts are energized, social individuals, they thrive in active environments. According to information distributed by the Myers & Briggs Foundation, which specializes in psychological and personality assessments, extroverts often enjoy fast-paced careers and prefer to talk through their problems instead of thinking through them. They are also likely to interact comfortably with a wide variety of friends and acquaintances. Overall, extroverts are enthusiastic, friendly, optimistic and persuasive. Every extroverted person is unique and complex, however, so it is important to remember that some may be private and shy as well.
Extrovertion Versus Introversion
Introversion is commonly considered to be the opposite of extroversion. Extroverts gravitate toward groups of people, while introverts are soft-spoken and particular to solitude, reports registered nurse Pat Kaier in an article for Main Line Health titled, "Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?" Generally, when introverts do engage with others, they prefer in-depth conversations instead of the light and easy interactions by which extroverts are amused. Kaier also states that extroverts tend to exercise more than introverts, while introverts may be preoccupied with avoiding accident or injury. Similarly, introverts can anticipate problems and learn from their mistakes, while extroverts are likely to take risks and make impulsive decisions -- increasing the likelihood of error.
Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.