The Different Types of Introverted Behavior

05 June, 2020
Academics, such as Jonathan Cheek and Jennifer Grimes, have identified different types of introverted behavior and shown that there's a wide variety of preferences and types of behavior. From their research, we can see that the classical definitions are very imprecise.

The definition of introverted behavior goes far beyond the attitudes a person adopts in their socialization.

We can see this by having a look at the 10-item introversion-extroversion test on Susan Cain’s site, The Quiet Revolution. The characteristics of introversion described in the test show us that the definition of introversion has, fortunately, been updated.

Research on introversion has long since gone beyond the typical comparisons such as “I like to be alone/ I like to be with people“. Introverted behavior can have as many, or even more, nuances than extroverted behavior.

Introverts may have certain preferences for their socialization that aren’t usually available. Thus, for that reason, they may prefer to stay at home.

They may enjoy the company of other people, but in a different way to the extrovert. And, above all, their preference for certain activities may vary over time, as much as it does for other people.

A woman smelling a sunflower.

Introverted behavior and its different forms

In the 1920s, Carl Gustav Jung created the introverted/extroverted distinction. Despite its existence, it wasn’t until the 1940s that it began to be used in psychology more extensively.

They began to conduct research mainly in the field of personality. Jung also identified a third personality type, although he never categorized it.

Today, we have the term ambivert. It falls right in the middle of the introverted-extroverted plane. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds. They’re able to draw on the strengths of the introverted and the extroverted, depending on the circumstances.

Many experts, such as Jonathan Cheek and Jennifer Grimes, have spent time studying and identifying the different types of introverts. The first type is the one that will sound most familiar: social introverts.

1. Social introverts

This is the profile that most resembles the widespread view of introversion. These are people who value reading at home more than going out.

A social introvert values their living space and their closest relationships very much, preferring to go out for a drink with their lifelong friends rather than go to a music festival.

Although people may consider them to be the same as shy people, there’s a crucial difference. While shy people feel anxiety when they’re the focus of attention (or there’s a chance they will be), social introverts feel better in smaller groups where the level of stimulation and change may not be as high.

2. Introspective introverts

Another type identified by Cheek and Grimes is what they call the “introspective introverts”. This focal point of this type of introvert is more internal. Unlike social introverts, introspective introverts have no problem socializing.

This main characteristic of this type of introvert is that they’re people with a vast inner world. They’re capable of getting lost in fantasy worlds, and their imagination enables them to be very creative.

Professor Cheek stated that these introverts are “capable of getting lost in an internal fantasy world; not in a neurotic way, but rather in an imaginative and creative way”.

One example Cheek gives is Luna Lovegood, the Harry Potter wizard. Her inner madness, which makes her both mysterious and deranged, perfectly defines an introspective introvert.

Luna Lovegood.

3. Reserved introverts

The third type of introvert that Jonathan Cheek has proposed is defined more by their actions than their thinking. The “reserved introverts” think about doing things at a slower pace than other people. Also, they carry out those actions in a more conscious and considered way.

Reserved introverts prefer to think before speaking or acting, and may take longer to get started. Professor Cheek says, “I’ve never thought about introversion in this way before, and so I’m interested to see what future research tells us about reserved introversion and how it correlates with the other types”.

They take their time before they do anything, plan everything they’ll do during the day, and like to have situations under control. Unlike anxious introverts (see the following category), they don’t necessarily have to feel insecure in any way. They’re simply people who analyze the world carefully and don’t act impulsively.

4. Anxious introverts or social anxiety?

Professor Cheek points to another type of introvert, the anxious introvert. They may make statements such as: “I feel self-conscious when I’m around strangers”, or “Even when I’m in a group of friends, I feel very lonely and restless”.

With people like this, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between those who are introverted and those who suffer from social anxiety.

Reflections on introversion

Introverts are people who enjoy solitude and usually have an active inner life. They take a more deliberate approach to personal growth and feel exhausted by over-stimulating environments.

Depending on the person, the typical characteristics vary in their prominence, but, in general, they all have quite similar personalities.

The surprising thing about the different varieties or components of introversion is how enriching they can all be. Extroverts have always tended to benefit from the assumption that their way of living life was the most psychologically healthy way.

However, researchers such as Cain and Dembling have shown us with their research just how varied and adaptive introverted behavior can be.