I had some interesting discussions with local extroverts and introverts in response to my post last week, “Why I Don’t Believe in Ambiverts?, and I have crystallized the rest of my theory on personality categories.
Basically, there is a gradient, from the extraverted-side of things to the introverted-side, with four categories between them. Here is how I picture it:
The Social Extraverts are your “classic” extraverts: they like people for people’s sake, they like being the life of the party, they like talking to a lot of people, and their needs for people are very high. I don’t know that they are afraid of being alone more than the other groups—even an introvert can be afraid of going through life without anyone—but Social Extraverts need to interact with a lot of people (they are probably the ones who invented big parties in the first place, who like going to places where a lot of people are, and get bored when they are by themselves).
Companion Extroverts, like Social Introverts, are the ones who seem to get lumped into “ambiverts.” They both need people, but Companion Extraverts don’t like being alone as much. They don’t get energy from it, and being with people constantly doesn’t tire them. In fact, they can get depressed if they are alone too long (whereas Social Introverts will just get lonely and want to find some company, possibly through a good book). They won’t want to take walks by themselves, unlike Social Introverts, who sometimes do. They won’t want to do things by themselves: if possible, they’d rather recruit a like-minded individual as company. Even if they can complete the task by themselves, they’d rather do it with someone.
Social Introverts need people, but only some of the time. The rest of the time, they need their space—to be alone, to think, to recharge. (My earlier post covered this category in depth.) I think one of the big differences between Companion Extroverts and Social Introverts is what they need people for. Companion Extroverts want people around for company—much as Companion Introverts do. They don’t need to socialize, they don’t need to talk. They just need to be around. But Social Introverts need people for the sake of socializing: talking, exchanging and sharing ideas, refining schemes, expounding theories. They are a bit like Social Extraverts in this, but once they are done, they’ll want to be alone, their need for company fulfilled for the time. When they work on a task, they usually want to do it by themselves…preferably, without others in the same room.
Companion Introverts are the “classic” introverts: they aren’t quite hermits, but they don’t need people to make them happy. In fact, apart from their immediate family, Companion Introverts don’t always need anyone else, or, if they do want to visit with others, they will want to keep it short and small in numbers, and when it’s over, they’re done. However, like Companion Extraverts, they need company…people who are just there, with them, sharing the journey of life.
So there is my theory. I’d be happy to hear what the rest of you think. Have I missed a category? What category do you fall into? Since it’s a gradient, I’m assuming there can be people on the borderline, but I don’t believe that people can gain energy from both people and solitude—if they could, they’d never be tired, unless they became emotionally tired through stress or physically tired. If they could, they’d deserve the term of ambiverts. But maybe I’m wrong?
Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren