A Short Guide to Better Understanding The Ways of The ‘Introvert’

“A wise man once said nothing.” ~ Proverb

Many people are unaware that their personality style fits with being more introverted, especially if they are not susceptible to anxious tendencies. Despite the growing conversation around this topic, many with tendencies to introversion still feel misunderstood and guilty for wanting to spend long periods of time in solitude. Having such a tendency however, isn’t just about spending time alone. It is defined by whether a person is losing energy from being around others, even if the company of friends and family gives them pleasure[1]. ‘Introverts’ are not necessarily shy – they are people who just need a bit more time than others to turn off and recharge alone[2]. Conversely, ‘extroverts’ are the people who gain energy by being around others and therefore crave long periods of social interaction.

Whether you are tend to introverted behaviours or know someone who is, here are six interesting facts that will help you to understand this personality style in greater detail. People who are more introverted:

1) Take longer to process interactions and events because it is more complicated to do so. They have longer neural pathways that are associated with long-term memory and planning[3]. As information is processed in the brain, introverts carefully attend to their internal thoughts and feelings at the same time[4].

2) Are often perceived as quiet, and sometimes mistaken as being rude or anti-social. This is not the intention of the introvert; they for better or worse, often have to negotiate around a constant inner dialogue of thoughts. This is because they often reach back into their long-term memory and compare new and old experiences when making a decision, ultimately slowing the conversation down quite a bit.

3) Need time to recharge because they are easily over stimulated by social interaction and being around large groups of people. They therefore require less dopamine to feel happy or content and often find pleasure in simple and quiet activities such as reading a book or walking in the park. It is therefore less likely to see a group of introverts going skydiving together – introverts feel less excitement from surprise or risk compared to extroverts.

4) Have brain pathways which treat social interaction with the same level of intensity as it treats encounters with the surrounding environment. There is often too much detail to process at the one time, especially in a crowded environment. In other words, introverts are often distracted which is why many people continue to misinterpret introverts as to being rude by not paying attention.

5) Are likely to alternative between phases of work, solitude and social activity. A balance in these phases is important to an introvert, however when they over-exert themselves with too much socializing and busyness – they can get stressed and need to come back to themselves[5]. This may manifest as going through periods of heightened social activity that is then balanced out with a period of inwardness and solitude[6].

Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to an introvert. As mentioned previously, when there is a tendency to introversion, there is a need to recharge. When a more extroverted person is left home alone, many will find themselves bored or irritated, where someone who is more intraverted will likely treasure the down time. More introverted individuals may also feel that they can achieve a great deal more by being alone, and will often feel guilty or anxious about being away from their habitat for too long.

Do you recognise any of these characteristics in you? Being aware of your personality style and related behaviours can help you Be less self-critical, manage your stress and interactions with others, and give yourself some space to recharge.


Six Illustrations That Show What it’s Like in an Introvert’s Head. Liz Fosslien. Last Modified 2016. http://www.quietrev.com/6-illustrations-that-show-what-its-like-in-an-introverts-head/.

Caring For Your Introvert. Jonathan Rauch. Last Modified 2003. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/302696/.

23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. Carlolyn Gregorie. Last Modified 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.

[1] 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert, Carlolyn Gregorie, Last Modified 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.

[2] Caring For Your Introvert, Jonathan Rauch, Last Modified 2003, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/302696/.

[3] Six Illustrations That Show What it’s Like in an Introvert’s Head, Liz Fosslien, Last Modified 2016, http://www.quietrev.com/6-illustrations-that-show-what-its-like-in-an-introverts-head/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert, Carlolyn Gregorie, Last Modified 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.

[6] Ibid.

Message from Dr Cate: I wish to acknowledge the wonderful work of my son Alex, only 24yo, but very caring and empathic, who is now helping me to research and draft material for these. I have many competing demands, and this help is greatly appreciated. Well done and thank you!

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