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Summary Article: Introversion-Extraversion
from The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science

Carl Jung coined the terms introversion and extraversion to refer to two different psychological attitudes. By introversion, Jung meant a turning inward of the libido (psychic energy), whereas extraversion referred to a directing outward of the libido. Note that either term can be spelled with an “o” or an “a” (that is, either as above or as intraversion and extroversion). Although inconsistent, introversion and extraversion are the spellings used with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®(MBTI®) instrument, which is a popular personality assessment tool based on Jung’s type theory.

An introvert’s mind, emotions, attention, and so forth are turned inward toward himself or herself. Jung believed that the introvert directs the libido inward because of inferiority feelings, an idea reminiscent of Alfred Adler. Particularly during stressful periods, introverts tend to withdraw into themselves, to avoid others, and to be self-absorbed. With a bent toward self-sufficiency, the introvert’s essential stimulation is from within, from his or her inner world of thoughts and reflections. Introverts are frequently reserved and difficult to get to know, tend to bottle up their emotions, and need privacy. Introverts find that interacting with others drains their energy; for extraverts the opposite is true.

Extraverts orient primarily to the outer world, focusing their perceptions and judgments on people and things. Extraverts draw energy from other people and external experiences; tend to express their emotions; need relationships more than privacy; and are usually friendly, talkative, and easy to get to know. Extraverts may seem shallow to introverts, whereas introverts may seem withdrawn to extraverts. Both attitudes are present in all people, but usually one is preferred over the other.

On the MBTI®instrument, the E-I or Extraversion- Introversion index is one of four dichotomous scales. The other three are Sensing-Intuition (S-N), Thinking-Feeling (T-F), and Judging-Perceiving (J-P). The J-P scale was an addition by the test authors, as Jung did not directly identify this dichotomy.

See also

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBT).

Suggested Readings
  • Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological types. In The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 6), Bollinger Series XX. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. .
  • Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI Manual: A guide to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. .
  • Myers, I. B., & Myers, P. B. (1980). Gifts differing. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. .
  • B. MICHAEL THORNE
    Mississippi State University
    Copyright © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.

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