It’s fairly easy to tell if you’re an introvert. By definition, introverts need time by themselves to recharge and avoid becoming emotionally drained (World Heritage Encyclopedia, n.d.). But according to research by Dr. Jonathan Cheek, a psychology professor at Wellesley College, there are four different types of introverts. These types take into account the varied personalities of introverts and acknowledge that introversion is a spectrum. With that being said, here are the 4 types of introverts:
1: Social Introvert
Social introverts are both the most outgoing and the most private of the four types. They don’t feel shy or anxious in social settings and may even enjoy them, but they feel emotionally drained if they stay out for too long. While social introverts like spending time alone, they still want a few close friends they can depend on, and they tend to be the most social when they’re among this group of friends (Cheek, 2014). Someone who doesn’t know them might even assume they are an extrovert if they meet them when they are hanging out with their close friends. But social introverts won’t share much about themselves to anyone other than their closest friends.
2: Thinking Introvert
Thinking introverts also don’t mind socializing, but this is because they are lost in their own little world. They often find themselves daydreaming and may seem aloof to those who don’t know them. Thinking introverts are also very introspective and therefore more in tune with their feelings than the average person (Grimes et. al., 2011). Other people may have a hard time connecting with thinking introverts because they have a unique thought process and prefer to experience their thoughts rather than taking the time and energy to explain them to others.
3: Anxious Introvert
Perhaps a better label for the anxious introvert is the shy introvert, to differentiate anxious introversion from anxiety disorders. Anxious introverts crave solitude even when they are with their close friends (Cheek et. al., 2014). They are extremely uncomfortable in new or large social situations and analyze, or ruminate, on their behavior whenever they are in public (Grimes et. al., 2011). For example, they might replay social encounters in their head and think about what they said or did and what they could’ve done differently.
In extreme cases, this aversion to social situations may develop into social anxiety. Although any personality type (introverts, extroverts, or ambiverts) can experience social anxiety or other anxiety disorders, if you find yourself avoiding necessary social situations because you have strong physical reactions such as shaking, increased heart rate, or nausea during them, this is a sign of social anxiety and not shyness (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.).
4: Restrained Introvert
The last type of introvert is the restrained introvert. Restrained introverts are thoughtful and don’t like change (Cheek et. al., 2014). They get uncomfortable if they feel rushed into situations, especially social ones. They will go out if they’ve planned for it far enough in advance, but they would rather be relaxing by themselves: bingeing their favorite shows, reading, or doing yoga. Restrained introverts find comfort in their routine and may also find it difficult to get their mind and body moving right after they wake up (Cheek et. al., 2014).
If you’re an introvert, which of these four types did you relate to? Let us know in the comments below. If you think you are an introvert but didn’t relate to any of these four types, you may be ambiverted or closer to the extrovert side of the personality spectrum. Learning more about your personality type can help you communicate your needs to people with different personality types, strengthening your interpersonal relationships. Share this with an introvert you know to find out what type they are!
- Cheek, J.M., Brown, C.A., & Grimes, J.O. (2014, Sept.). Personality scales for four domains of introversion: Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Restrained Introversion. Preliminary Research Manual, Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA. Retrieved 23 July from https://www.academia.edu/7353616/Four_Meanings_of_Introversion_Social_Thinking_Anxious_and_Inhibited_Introversion.
- Grimes, J.O., Cheek, J.M., & Norem, J.K. (2011, Jan.). Four meanings of introversion: Social, thinking, anxious, and inhibited introversion. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved 23 July from https://www.academia.edu/7353616/Four_Meanings_of_Introversion_Social_Thinking_Anxious_and_Inhibited_Introversion.
- National Institute of Mental Health (n.d.). Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness. Retrieved 23 July from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml.
- World Heritage Encyclopedia (n.d). Personality type. Retrieved 23 July from http://ebooklibrary.org/articles/eng/Personality_type.