Table of Contents
Extraversion is one of the five personality traits of the Big Five personality theory. It indicates how outgoing and social a person is.
A person who scores high in extraversion on a personality test is, more often than not, the life of the party. Extraversion is characteristic of exuberant individuals, sociable and energetic, who have no problem getting themselves remarked in a gathering or group of people (social dynamism). They enjoy being with people, participating in social gatherings, and are full of energy.
People who score low on extraversion are perceived as shy, quiet and very formal who usually adopt a passive and reserved attitude (introversion). A person low in extraversion is less outgoing and is more comfortable working by themselves.
Social dynamism versus Introversion
Social dynamism (extraversion) is characterized by breadth of activities (as opposed to depth), surgency from external activity/situations, and energy creation from external means. The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy interacting with others and are often perceived as full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves. Extraverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting.
Introverts have lower social engagement and energy levels than extroverts. They tend to seem quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. Their lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as shyness or depression; instead, they are more independent of their social world than extroverts. Introverts need less stimulation and more time alone than extroverts. This does not mean that they are unfriendly or antisocial; rather, they are simply reserved in social situations.
Common Extraversion Traits
Each of the Big Five personality traits is made up of six facets or sub traits. These can be assessed independently of the trait that they belong to in a personality test.
The sub traits of the extraversion domain are:
High extraversion characteristics
Low extraversion characteristics
- Prefers solitude
- Feels exhausted when having to socialize a lot
- Finds it difficult to start conversations
- Dislikes making small talk
- Carefully thinks things through before speaking
- Dislikes being the center of attention
Causes of Extraversion
The exact reason why people tend to be more extroverted or more introverted has been the subject of considerable debate and research in psychology. As with many such debates, the question tends to boil down to two key contributors: nature or nurture.
Extroversion clearly has a strong genetic component. Twin studies suggest that genetics contribute somewhere between 40% and 60% of the variance between extroversion and introversion.
Personality traits are heritable, and genetic variation in the production and uptake of neuromodulators such as dopamine may play some role. Dopamine activity has been experimentally linked to differences in personality traits through various methods. Yet, the relationships between genes regulating dopamine activity and global personality phenotypes have been less than consistent. This may be because a large vector of environmental factors (e.g., parental support, negative life events, resource availability) also affect the development of personality traits, resulting in different phenotypes despite similar genotypes depending on the environmental circumstances. This is commonly termed phenotypic plasticity. Taken one step further, this implies that different genotypes may respond differently to environmental factors, resulting in a pattern of genotype by environmental interactions. Studies have shown that in demanding climates, dopamine genes are linked to Extraversion and Neuroticism traits manifestation.
Careers and extraversion trait
It has been argued that how a person’s career unfolds is increasingly affected by their own values, personality characteristics, goals and preferences. See what the best-suited careers for the extraversion (and introversion) trait are
Different jobs require different levels of extraversion. A high level of extraversion may be useful for jobs that require a great deal of interaction with other people, like public relations, social media, teaching and sales. Due to their talkativeness, friendliness and desire to work with and interact with others, extraverted individuals will excel in jobs that involve interactions with others, such as managers, sales personnel or roles in law.
Extroverts will also excel in management, team leading roles and event planning because they have the ability to negotiate and argue with others. Similarly, due to an extraverts desire and enthusiasm to work with others, they may also excel in social, politics and non-profit roles such as youth or aid work.
Due to their reserved and withdrawn nature, introverts tend to excel more in individualised and solo work. Introverts often make good scientists because the work is often quiet and solo, or at least in small groups. Similarly, other solo jobs, such as graphic designers or authors, are better suited to introverts because they often do not emphasize socialising.
However, bad news for introverts – studies have actually shown that extroverts are generally more successful than introverts. Perhaps, this is because an extrovert desires to succeed and interact with others, meaning that they will become popular and thus work their way to the top roles with more ease.
Extraversion & Introversion Book Recommendations
Continue expanding your knowledge on the subject of introversion and extraversion traits by reading the best books we have selected for you:
- John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big-Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (Vol. 2, pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford Press.
- Tellegen A, Lykken DT, Bouchard TJ Jr, Wilcox KJ, Segal NL, Rich S. Personality similarity in twins reared apart and together. J Pers Soc Psychol.
- Laney, M. O. (2002). The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive In An Extrovert World): How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World. Thomas Allen & Son Limited, pp.28
- Fischer R, Lee A, Verzijden MN. Dopamine genes are linked to Extraversion and Neuroticism personality traits, but only in demanding climates. Sci Rep (2018)
- Friedman H, Schustack M (2016). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research (Sixth ed.). Pearson Education Inc.
- Plomin R, Daniels D. Why are children in the same family so different from one another?. Int J Epidemiol. 2011