Have you ever watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and thought, “Why am I watching this movie by myself? I should be out with friends, hijacking a parade float”? Maybe that exact thought never occurred to you, but if you feel akin to Ferris, you’re probably an extrovert.
In general terms, an extrovert is a person who is motivated by external stimuli. Extroverts tend to really like people and socializing and to have outgoing, vocal personalities.
But there’s more to being an extrovert than talkativeness and wanting to party. Read on to learn more about extroverted personality traits and what it really means to be an extrovert.
The introvert/extrovert divide has been around for about 100 years. In 1921, Carl Jung classified personality into two basic types: introvert and extravert.
Jung chose the spelling “extravert” because it made sense in Latin, but we can’t help but notice “extra” is also a good way to describe these outgoing folks. Over time, the spelling changed to “extrovert” and psychologists found there was a lot more nuance to personality types than Jung originally prescribed.
Some personality traits are common for a majority of extroverts, but not all these traits apply to all extroverts. Personality is a wide spectrum, and everyone has a different mix of traits.
1. They’re energized by a crowd
One of the most common characteristics of an extrovert is that they’re energized by people. They go to a gathering, meet a bunch of new people, and talk to old friends, and all that social interaction gives them a full battery to keep on partying (as opposed to introverts, who often find that social gatherings drain their energy).
This doesn’t just apply to fun hangouts with friends. Extroverts tend to prefer working in groups to working alone. They like to talk out their ideas with co-workers and find greater happiness and energy in doing things as a team.
2. They’re the life of the party
Since extroverts get energized by other people, it’s no surprise they’re often the life of the party. That might not mean every extrovert is wowing a crowd with their keg stand abilities, but their outgoing, friendly nature tends to draw attention and forge new friendships.
While extroverts genuinely enjoy being the center of attention and spending time with a variety of people, don’t confuse them for drama llamas who need the spotlight for validation.
Extroverts don’t necessarily need acclaim and adulation — they simply thrive on social situations. To put it simply, extroverts aren’t out to steal the spotlight, but they often end up at center stage just by being themselves.
3. They have a lot of friends and acquaintances
“A stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met.” — “Streetcar! The Musical,” as performed by “The Simpsons”
Friends abound for extroverts! Connection with other people is incredibly important, and extroverts cherish the many people in their lives.
The need for friends is biological. One study found that extroverts had a higher response to seeing human faces than introverts. Simply seeing another human stimulates an extrovert’s brain.
4. They love to talk it out
Just as introverts are known for being on the quiet side, extroverts are known for being talkative. Instead of processing thoughts and emotions internally, extroverts like to use talking to sort out their ideas.
That doesn’t mean they have a constant external monologue of emotions, but they prefer to talk things out with others. Whether it’s a disagreement, a project at work, or a Netflix series they’re obsessed with, extroverts will seek conversation to work out all the details.
Basically, extroverts think, “This email should have been a meeting.”
5. Their version of “me time” is actually “you and me time”
When an introvert is scrambling to their room for some alone time, an extrovert is hopping in the car to meet up with friends.
Generally, extroverts need less time alone and find less comfort in quiet time. Of course, everybody needs to be alone sometimes, but you won’t often find your extrovert friends canceling plans for a night in.
6. They’re less afraid of risk
The blackjack table has high dopamine potential for extroverts.
One study found that extroverts got a hit of dopamine (the happiness hormone, in very general terms) when a risk paid off, specifically when gambling. And a 2007 study found that extroverts were biologically motivated to look for novelty (new or different experiences).
This doesn’t mean every extrovert is hanging out at the casino 24/7, but there is a biological incentive for extroverts to go out and grab life by the horns.
7. They like to take the lead
In addition to being socially active and outgoing, extroverts often enjoy leadership roles.
Whether they’re the friend who sends out cute email invitations for brunch every week or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an extrovert probably likes the attention and action that leadership brings.
8. They like to look on the bright side of life
The best news about being an extrovert? They’re usually more optimistic and less inclined to have anxiety, and they’re often happier.
It sounds odd that one personality group could be happier than another, but a 2013 study found that extroversion was regularly linked with being happier. Another study found that even when people just pretended to be extroverts, they were happier!
Obviously, there are nuances here. Introverts and extroverts can both be happy, sad, and everything in between. Which brings us to…
Whenever you classify things in black and white (introvert or extrovert — nothing in between!), you’ll find some stereotypes and exaggerations. Here are some extrovert myths that need to be debunked.
1. All extroverts are confidence machines
Since extroverts are often outgoing and friendly, people assume all extroverts are extremely confident or even cocky. Not true. Anybody can have issues with confidence, even people with lots of friends.
2. Extroverts can’t be alone with their thoughts
You may hear that extroverts can’t handle being alone. Allow us to debunk this stereotype.
One study found that extroverted behavior led to happiness and fatigue. Three hours after their extroverted excursion, participants felt tired from the interaction. This was true regardless of personality type.
Everybody likes to be alone sometimes, and even extroverts need time away from the crowds to recharge.
3. Extroverts are rude
When a person is really talkative, they may be accused of talking over others or gabbing it up just because they like the sound of their own voice. Though some people may be that way, most extroverts are *not* rude talking machines. Reminder: They use talking to process their thoughts, not to shut other people up.
4. Extroverts aren’t as creative
Since creativity is typically thought of as an internal process (“I need to be alone with my thoughts,” said the artist), some people might assume extroverts are less creative.
But creativity comes in many forms, and it’s not exclusive to people who hole up in a room to create their masterpiece. Anyone can be creative — it has nothing to do with personality type.
5. Introverts and extroverts can’t get along
Like oil and water, cats and dogs, or Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, introverts and extroverts just can’t get along. Luckily, this is far from true.
These different personality types often complement each other and make for wonderful working or social relationships. As Paula Abdul said, opposites attract. And when has MC Skat Kat ever lied to you?
Extroversion is a sliding scale, not a yes-or-no question. Most people have a mix of introverted and extroverted traits — that’s why one label can’t possibly cover anyone’s entire personality.
Many actors who seem like textbook examples of extroversion are actually introverts, even though they literally seek the spotlight. Introverts can lead companies and speak in front of thousands of people. It’s all a spectrum of personality.
A personality label isn’t meant to pigeonhole you. It’s simply meant to help you understand yourself and how you relate to others. See which traits best describe you and use them to understand and care for yourself in the best way possible.