Just recently, a very good friend of mine posted a quick blurb about how hard it is being an ambivert.
And my head blew up. “Ambivert? What?! How have I not heard of this?”
Being the knowledge junkie that I am, I was immediately plunged into several weeks of deliriously delicious research, scouring every source I could find on the subject, covering both the reputable, and… well, shall we say the “less so” ones. The search took me so deep into the sea of modern research, speculation, and theorems, that I thought I might never emerge. But the after three days and three nights in the dark bowels of the ocean, the whale of newfound information threw me up on the beach of reality, with this unfortunate duty made firm: I have to argue that there is no such thing as ambiversion.
Please forgive me! Don’t stop reading! Don’t throw your tablet out the window! (It’s, like, really expensive!)
Please know that I am not dismissing the idea, and with it the strong feelings of my good friend and her compatriots, without a great deal of emotional duress. Still, in the murky waters that are behavioral science, it would appear there is a more accurate, and really, beneficial understanding of what these persons are experiencing.
Seems simple, right? It is the idea that there is a third trait in between the commonly known extroversion/introversion traits. A type of person that is neither one nor the other, but is in fact both. Most people who identify as ambiverts state that they need alone time to recharge, but really long to be around people to be happy, although there are some who feel the inverse too. (Recharging with people, but only being happy alone.) And, since, as we all know, introverts are quiet, timid little people, and extroverts are outgoing, never stopping, energy machines, these people must be a new type.
Except they aren’t.
What most people don’t realize is that the extroversion/introversion scale is, like nearly everything else in psychology, ridiculously complex. When Jung coined the terms introvert and extrovert in his work Psychologische Typen, he did not typecast introverts as mice and extroverts as lions, but rather described the process of energy expenditure and rejuvenation in different types of people.
Fast forward nearly a hundred years, and many of us (me included) are still over simplifying the scale. We see our social preferences as linear, like this:
Truth is, there is very little about us that is linear. And when it comes to something as complex as socialization, simplifying our personality to a mere A or B question is going too far. Really, a closer model would look like this:
I know. Gregarious Introverts?! Shy Extroverts?! Heresy!
Yet, it’s true. The traits that make us outgoing or shy (self esteem, self image, education, love of people) really have little to do with our socialization preferences (method of energy recuperation).
So, while some of individuals may identify as absolute extroverts (gregarious extrovert), or absolute introverts (shy introvert), many, many others fall into what might be argued to be the more balanced medium: what they might think of as ambiversion, but what is really just an outgoing introvert, or a shy extrovert at various levels. This too, explains the indifference of many people to the E/I scale in the first place, while we absolutes find it the most incredible bit of information we have ever found.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What are your thoughts? How do you identify? Talk to us in the comments section below!