Myers–Briggs literature uses the terms extraversion and introversion as Jung first used them. Extraversion means “outward-turning” and introversion means “inward-turning”. These specific definitions vary somewhat from the popular usage of the words. Note that extraversion is the spelling used in MBTI publications.
The preferences for extraversion and introversion are often called “attitudes”. Briggs and Myers recognized that each of the cognitive functions can operate in the external world of behavior, action, people, and things (“extraverted attitude”) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (“introverted attitude”). The MBTI assessment sorts for an overall preference for one or the other.
People who prefer extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their motivation tends to decline. To rebuild their energy, extraverts need breaks from time spent in reflection. Conversely, those who prefer introversion “expend” energy through action: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. To rebuild their energy, introverts need quiet time alone, away from activity.
An extravert’s flow is directed outward toward people and objects, whereas the introvert’s is directed inward toward concepts and ideas. Contrasting characteristics between extraverted and introverted people include the following:
- Extraverted are “action” oriented, while introverted are “thought” oriented.
- Extraverted seek “breadth” of knowledge and influence, while introverted seek “depth” of knowledge and influence.
- Extraverted often prefer more “frequent” interaction, while introverted prefer more “substantial” interaction.
- Extraverted recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverted recharge and get their energy from spending time alone; they consume their energy through the opposite process