Nowadays, if you identify as an introvert or an extravert, the internet is a wonderful resource for you to affirm your sense of self, find a community of similar individuals and celebrate the personality trait that strongly influences your social life. But what about the people who cannot place themselves squarely into either of the two categories made popular by psychologist Carl Jung?
If you are not the textbook example of an introvert or an extravert, do not fear. You might be an ambivert!
Knowing where you fall on this introversion-extraversion spectrum is not a trivial fact that you could maybe bring up during dinner if you felt like it. Being aware of which environments you flourish in can help you improve your relationships with others, choose a satisfying career and search for the right life partner.
1. Your friends have a hard time classifying you as an introvert or an extrovert
This is probably one of the best signs that you might be an ambivert. Often times, we can manipulate our thoughts into making ourselves believe we possess a desirable personality trait. Your friends may even know you better than you know yourself, especially when it comes to judging how you tend to behave socially. If they’re confused, you could very well be an ambivert.
2. Your energy isn’t drained when you’re alone, nor do you feel exhausted after lots of socialization (or maybe you tend to be drained by both equally)
One of the most popular ways of defining introverts and extraverts is the fact that introverts can be social but are drained by that use of their time, whereas extraverts feel drained of energy after spending too much time in solitude. Personality psychologist Brian Little explains that ambiverts have the best of both worlds.
Compared to introverts and extraverts, Little says, “Ambiverts are in that nice zone, in that sweet spot, where they’re able to act out of character as a pseudo-introvert or a pseudo-extravert, without paying the nervous system costs.”
If you do not think there is much of a difference between the energy you spend talking to people at a cocktail party and what you spend reading a book in bed, you could be an ambivert.
3. You are usually satisfied with your weekend plans
Whether you have been invited to a large party or you’ve decided to eat in and watch movies with a close friend, you are satisfied, and even happy. This may have to do with you being a happy person in general, or it could be your body making it much easier for you to feel that way. Being an introvert or an extravert means more than just being sociable or not being sociable, it also affects how easily you are aroused by external stimuli (or your threshold for stimulation).
In this infant study, developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan performed an enlightening experiment to confirm that introverts have low thresholds for stimulation, meaning that they are affected by the weakest of stimuli and hence tend to seek out calm and quiet places, while extraverts have high thresholds for stimulation, so it takes a lot of extra chaos for them to feel stimulated. Ambiverts, unlike introverts and extraverts, do not have very high or very low thresholds for stimulation, allowing them to feel comfortable in almost all environments, in this case during any weekend plans.
4. During conversations you know when to keep quiet and when to talk, and you do them both relatively easily
An introvert might know when to talk, due to their hypersensitivity in social situations, but may not feel like speaking out in a large group of people. An extravert, on the other hand, might not realize when to stop talking. Ambiverts are right in the middle, so they are more intuitive than extraverts when it comes to knowing when their input is required, and less likely than introverts to keep quiet in social contexts. Again, to clarify, introverts can also speak up and extraverts can keep quiet, but the ease that ambiverts possess while performing these tasks is not possessed by the other two kinds of people.
If you find that making the right decision in social situations is relatively simple for you than it is for your introvert and extravert friends, you could be an ambivert.
5. You are emotionally stable during a concert, a yoga session and everything in between
Introverts discover that they are emotionally stable in quieter places, while extraverts generally flourish in louder, more lively places. An introvert in a loud environment will find it difficult to remain emotionally stable, while an extravert will feel emotionally unstable in quiet places. Ambiverts have the benefit in most situations because they are highly adaptable, which also makes them emotionally stable during a wider range of experiences – from the earsplitting loud music at a concert to the quiet bliss of a yoga session.
6. You don’t relate completely with posts about introverts and extraverts
This is probably the first sign that you may not be an introvert or an extravert, but it is definitely not foolproof. Some people who lean towards being one trait may not necessarily relate with every single point about that personality trait, but if you have a feeling you are in the middle, you might be. Also, you may not be able to relate completely with friends who confidently call themselves introverts or extraverts.
7. You can’t empathize with people who are not able to sit through loud social gatherings or are uncomfortable with time spent alone
You probably sympathize with such individuals and acknowledge that it is possible for them to have trouble in these situations. But that’s as far as you can go. Because you have the ability to navigate both situations without struggle, you aren’t fully able to understand what it might feel like to desperately desire time alone or time with people.
8. You meet more people who are like you
This may have to do with the fact that we choose friends who we relate to, but it could also have something to do with the fact that the number of ambiverts in the human population is just higher. The number of self-described introverts is lowest, the number of extraverts is a bit higher and the number of ambiverts beats them both. Many people respond to descriptions of ambiverts with, “Wait, aren’t all people like this?” No, not all people are ambiverts, but in general, most people are.
9. You are shy or stable and hence mistaken about your introvert or extravert status
Shyness and stability are personality traits that are separate from those of introversion and extraversion. However, because both traits influence people’s social lives in similar ways, the presence of one can influence the perceived presence of the other. In other words, you could be a shy ambivert but swear that you are an introvert, or you could be a stable ambivert and feel like more of an extravert.
Even psychological assessments like the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) may place you as either an introvert or an extravert, but the real reason your answers make you seem like one or the other is because of your shyness or stability. If you are shy, insecurities or the worry of being negatively judged are what keep you from being as sociable as you would like to be, which is different from being an introvert, for whom the possibility of being more social may seem appealing. But actually being social when they don’t need to doesn’t make them feel satisfied, or it instead makes them feel worse.
10. Right now, you feel like me after watching the first episode of “The Mindy Project”
You may have never noticed the emptiness in your soul from never reading an article that addressed your personality trait, and after reading this one, you have realized that emptiness. It’s just like how I hadn’t realized the lack of (counter-stereotypical) Indian-American television and film characters had affected me until I watched “The Mindy Project” and felt so unbelievably proud of Mindy Kaling, almost like being Indian made us sisters. If you are finally feeling a similar gratitude of being represented on the internet, congratulations, you are an ambivert! (And we’re sorry it took so long.)
So how did you do? Did you relate to all 10 signs?
You’re probably an ambivert!
But keep in mind that human beings are never 100% anything. Psychologist have made divisions of this introvert-extravert spectrum, but there really is no distinct line that divides introverts from ambiverts and ambiverts from extraverts. Some people can distinguish themselves, because they are close enough to the extremes. You could be an ambivert, or just slightly introverted or extraverted. You could be a shy extravert or a stable ambivert, a shy ambivert or a stable introvert.
The final take away? Try being more self-aware, keep track of what experiences make you happy and which ones you would feel happier doing without. Taking tests and reading articles to measure your personality traits definitely help, but they are not final, indisputable assessments of your personality. Only you can truly figure out where and when you feel most fulfilled.