There are three main personality types when it comes to social style—introvert, extrovert, and ambivert. Which are you?
Are you an Extrovert, an Introvert or Somewhere in Between (Ambivert)?
Think of the last time you went to a party. How did you behave? Did you work the room, chat with all kinds of people and love every second? Or, did you hide in the corner, scrolling through your phone and wondering how much longer you should stay?
Your party style is a good clue as to your personality type, whether you are more of an “introvert” or an “extrovert.”
These terms came from psychologist Carl Jung, who concluded in the 1920s that people fall into one of these two categories. In his research, Jung found that introverts get energy by being alone, and extroverts get energy by being with others.
What Jung failed to acknowledge, however, is that these types are two extremes.
“Some people do fit clearly into the description of introvert or extrovert. But psychologists now know that there is also a blending of the two types,” says Patricia Farrell, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist in New York City.
There’s a term for this third personality type—ambivert. If this is you, most likely you can relate to both behavior styles at the party, or perhaps you can slip into one or the other depending on the situation and your mood at the time.
Introvert, extrovert, and ambivert, broken down
To help you understand the introvert, extrovert, and ambivert personality styles—and which one best describes you—here are some ways the personality types behave in certain scenarios.
In social situations:
Extroverts love to socialize. For them, parties can never be long enough. They are more socially-present than introverts, and they thrive on the energy of those around them. Most extroverts enjoy being the center of attention.
Introverts tend to be the exact opposite, more reserved and withdrawn. Some are so uncomfortable socializing that they avoid social situations altogether. But introverts have their social strengths, too. “Introverts can be easy to be with and fun to talk to,” says Patricia Ashley, PhD, LPC, psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado and author of Letters to Freedom. They are phenomenal listeners and give thoughtful answers when asked to give their opinions. “But they need to minimize the time they spend socializing,” Dr. Ashley says.
The third type, the ambivert, does well in social settings and alone. If they get too much of either, their energy dips, and they need to recharge. At the party, an ambivert probably won’t dominate a conversation (as an extrovert might), but she will jump in with a quick comment to fill a lull, or speak up if she has something important to say.
In work settings:
At work, introverts tend to focus on one project or task at a time, finishing before they move on to the next. They prefer to stand back and observe before they jump in, and they shy away from public speaking whenever they can. Pensive and introspective, introverts consider all viewpoints—their coworkers as well as their own—as they decide how to proceed. Good careers for introverts include creative jobs, those in the sciences, writing, and art.
Extroverts are natural leaders, the group leaders, presidents and CEOs. They are usually cheerful and optimistic, which makes them resilient. They are swift thinkers and make decisions quickly and decisively. They are generally good public speakers and enjoy talking in front of a crowd.
Ambiverts are flexible and good problem solvers at work. They strike a good balance between optimism and realism and can help motivate an introvert or bring an extrovert back down to earth. Ambiverts can pivot and adjust their work styles on a case-by-case basis. If you need someone to step in at the last minute or make an impromptu speech, look to the ambivert on your work team.
Which way do you swing? Here’s a quick checklist from Dr. Ashley to help you see if you are an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between:
You’re most likely an introvert if you:
- Get energized by ideas and thoughts inside your head
- Prefer to do things alone or with just one or two other people
- Need time to reflect before you make decisions
- Sometimes like the ideas in your head better than reality
- Are quieter and more reserved
- Feel totally comfortable being alone and doing things by yourself, like eating at a restaurant
- Prefer keeping your social circle small
- Are a good listener
- Sometimes fade to the background instead of taking action or speaking up
- Are a very loyal friend
You’re most likely an extrovert if you:
- Get energy from involving yourself in many different activities and events
- Feel excited when you’re around people
- Are a social butterfly
- Enjoy taking action and making things happen
- Talk through problems and listen to what other people think about solutions
- Like working in groups
- Have lots of friends
- Enjoy taking with people you do not know
- Sometimes act too quickly, without thinking things through
- Start projects before getting all the details
You’re most likely an ambivert if:
- You can relate to moderated versions of both introverted and extroverted characteristics and can switch back and forth between both, depending on the situation
Introvert, extrovert, and ambivert–all three personality types have their strengths. “If you feel like you fit into one of the extreme ends of introversion or extroversion, think about how you can soften those traits,” Dr. Farrell says. As exercise does for a muscle, you can flex a personality trait to strengthen it. “If you have trouble talking to strangers, practice going into stores and striking up a conversation with others in the checkout line,” Farrell says. “If you’re an extrovert and find yourself interrupting, make it a point to slow down and really listen to what others say,” she says. Overall, the better you understand your own personality style and the styles of others around you, the better you will be able to engage with all kinds of people in your life.