Introverts are perhaps the most misconstrued people in this world. They are usually perceived as dull, boring, and at times arrogant. They are also, often believed to be rather dry, lackluster, and lacking in enthusiasm. For this they are at the receiving end of quite a lot of criticism and endless advice and suggestions.

This, of course, is not really what introverts are about. These are many of the misconceptions and misperceptions that usually people have about them. Such opinions held by others and their constant advices to introverts make them irritated and lead them to avoid others.

Contrary to popular belief, introversion is not only about being shy, quiet, and not being very sociable. This is true, to an extent, but this is not the only thing that is related to introversion.

According to Carl Jung, introverts orient their thoughts inwards, to their inner self. They are more concerned with their inner feelings. In other words, introverts are more self-reflective and introspective. They are highly self-involved and tend to explore their own inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Compared to introverts, extraverts (extrovert and extroversion being the more common spellings) are quite the opposite. Extraverts orient themselves towards their outer world. They are less concerned about their inner feelings and are more oriented towards their surroundings rather than themselves.

Since introverts are more concerned with their inner feelings, they prefer to be self-involved rather than being in social gatherings. They like to spend a lot of time with themselves rather than being with others. This is why they have very few friends. They tend to be more focused and do not like to be distracted. Extraverts, on the other hand, being oriented towards their outer world, like to be in social gatherings and do not like to be alone.

Carl Jung also suggests that every individual has both introversion and extraversion, but one of them is dominant. In case of introverts, introversion is more dominant compared to extraversion. This means that introverts have some traits of extraversion also and though they are not very sociable, they can make the necessary adjustments when required.

If an introvert is not very sociable, it simply means that he/she does not want to be like that. But when it is required, then an introvert can become sociable, for that particular moment, though not as active as an extravert. Therefore, an introvert can be sociable, but only when he/she wants to be or has to be.

There are other reasons for why introverts are like the way they are. Hans Eyesenck gives a biological basis for introversion and extraversion. According to him, it is the biological temperament that determines whether a person is an introvert or an extravert.

Each person has a certain level of arousal within their central nervous system (specifically, in the part of the brain known as the ascending reticular activating system). Introverts have a high level of arousal. They have a low threshold for social stimulation. A low threshold for stimulation means that introverts get easily aroused by their surroundings and they do not have to go out of their way to generate a certain level of enthusiasm.

This low threshold of stimulation makes an introvert to be self-involved. Since they have a high level of arousal, being self-involved is enough for them to stimulate themselves in a highly satisfying manner.

Compared to introverts, extraverts have a very low level of arousal and a high threshold for social stimulation. This is why an extravert is very active and highly sociable. Since they have a high threshold for stimulation, they have to be outgoing and involved in many tasks to satisfy their level of arousal. In other words, they have to go out of their way to generate a certain level of enthusiasm to satisfy themselves.

The kind of excitement that an extravert may have by being with many friends and by being highly active, an introvert generates the same amount of excitement by simply reading a book or by being alone and being involved in his/her own thoughts.

Introverts, having a high level of arousal, get easily aroused and that is why they do not need to be very active and sociable. Extraverts, on the other hand, having a low level of arousal, do not get easily aroused and because of that they need to be highly active and very sociable. This is why introverts tend to be more contemplative and thoughtful and extraverts tend to be more spontaneous and impulsive.

Introverts, in the same manner, can be differentiated with people who are involved in adventure sports, who have more of a sensation seeking personality (they are not exactly like extraverts). People with a sensation seeking personality have an extremely low level of arousal. They have an extremely high threshold for social stimulation.

To satisfy their level of arousal, people with sensation seeking personality need to be involved in adventurous activities. They need to be involved in things like bungee-jumping, paragliding, or river-rafting.

An introvert does not have to do all this to satisfy their level of excitement. For them, reading a book of their interest generates the same amount of excitement that a person with a sensation seeking personality might generate by bungee-jumping.

Introverts, having a low threshold for stimulation, generally get uncomfortable in a situation that can be highly stimulating for them. For an introvert, being around with many people, being involved in too many tasks, or for that matter bungee-jumping, can be highly stimulating and too much for their comfort level. These situations do not match with their biological temperament and thus causes discomfort. This is why introverts tend to be shy and prefer to be with very few people.

In the same manner, extraverts become uncomfortable when being in a situation that is not highly stimulating for them. When alone, extraverts go out, get involved in something, and be with many friends to decrease their discomfort. Being alone and inactive does not match with their biological temperament. They become so uncomfortable in low stimulating situations that they just have to be involved in something or the other.

Carl Jung and Hans Eyesenck give a completely different picture of introversion. Their views give a better understanding of introverts. Introverts behave in a particular way because they orient their thoughts towards their inner self and have a high level of arousal.

It is not that introverts are dull and lack in enthusiasm. They are enthusiastic in their own way, which may be different from others. They get excited and generate their enthusiasm by doing different kinds of things. Those things might be boring for others but not for introverts. Similarly, the things that excite others, like being in social gatherings, do not create any kind of interest for introverts.

Rather than indulging in criticisms, there should be a respect and acknowledgment for individual differences. Introverts have their own good qualities. They are different from others, because they are simply like that. Just like others behave in a particular way, introverts also have their own way of behaving.

Introverts like to live in their own world. They like to be self-involved, are self-reflective, and prefer to be with very few people. Instead of trying to change them and making them like others (or rather like extraverts), they should be left by themselves. They are best when left to enjoy living in their own world.

Author's Bio: 

Saif has a PhD in Psychology, in the area of Intimate Relationships and Mental Health, from the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, India. He has had experience in teaching Psychology to students of Bachelor of Arts. He also has experience in counseling as well as construction of Psychological Tests (Achievement and Personality Tests).

Saif is also involved in a number of independent researches in varying areas such as Loneliness, Educational Psychology, Culture, Health Psychology, and Parapsychology. He also conducts workshops and awareness programs on careers, personality, and communication, in schools and colleges. He is also involved in e-counseling.

He has made a number of paper presentations in various national and international conferences. His papers have been published in national and international journals. His articles have been published in magazines and websites associated with Psychology. Currently, he is also working on a book on relationship issues of adolescents and young adults.