Ratio of Introverts

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The following is a guest post by Natalie. You can see more about her at the bottom of the post.

INTROVERTS ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD

There are more introverts than you might think. You may have read that Introverts are 25% of the population. This introvert / extrovert ratio has been copied all over the place. Including many ‘authoritative’ books and websites.

It is based on an old estimate from the early 1960′s by Isabel Myers of the Myers-Briggs organization. It was just a personal guess with no real statistical data behind it.

She estimated that 25% of the population of the United States were introverts and 75% Extroverts.

This off the cuff guess has grown a life of it’s own. It’s spread exponentially with the growth of the Internet. That favorite hang out of introverts. Unfortunately the Internet increases the spread of misleading information as much as it does for valuable knowledge.

The actual ratio based on the first official random sample by the Myers-Briggs organization in 1998 showed Introverts 50.7% and Extroverts 49.3% of the USA.

According to the 1998 National Representative Sample, the
breakdowns by preference are:
E- Extroversion, I- Introversion
Total Males Females
E 49.3%, I 50.7% E 45.9%, I 54.1% E 52.5%, I 47.5%
Source:
Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI Manual: A guide to the development and use of the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
(3rd ed.). Palo Alto,
CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

How can introverts accept it’s 25% when it’s actually 50%? Well, it’s all depends on your point of view. Most introverts asking about this ratio are very distinctively introverted. If you are ever on the very far end of something, even moderates look effectively the opposite to you.

So, just like someone who is short believes even those of average height are ‘tall’. Those who are very introverted think the ‘average’ people – are extroverted. I am very introverted and when I talk to people about the preferences of introverts, even those I think of as solid extroverts say they are introverted too! It occasionally boggles my mind.

Also our American culture favors extrovert characteristics. That is being ‘friendly’ and ‘outgoing’ is the way to succeed in life. I think many people put on a front in public so they are not seen as ‘loners’.

Understand that the characteristics of introvert and extrovert overlap, flow and merge with no real absolute difference between one point and the next. The differences are only detectable without a test when the gaps are wide, as in opposites. Just like color shades in a color bar merge and fade with only those far apart being highly distinctive.

Color Continuum

I won’t go into all the differences between introverts and extroverts. There are plenty of examples of that in these pages. But introversion and extroversion are only one aspect of personality. And remember there are more of us than you think.


Natalie writes about and shares her personal experience overcoming shyness, building self-esteem and making positive changes in your life at Thoughtful-Self-Improvement.com.

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38 Comments

  1. Natalie, thanks for writing this great post. In the last couple of years I’ve started to notice all the introverts around me – many who are a lot closer to the middle of the continuum than I am. They may initiate meetings a lot more readily than I would (because to me a meeting is a last resort :) ) and not seem like what we often think of as “introverted” at all, but the way they energize themselves is still through contemplation and thinking – alone, not by talking and being around other people.

  2. Natalie, I love this blog post! Thank you for posting it.

    According to the majority of personality tests I’ve taken online, I am an “extreme extrovert.” I love striking up conversations with random people, embarking on a new adventure without pre-thought or destination, I thrive in big crowds and public gatherings, plus I get extremely energized around other extreme extroverts. (It’s almost like a drug!) However, you’re right, I believe personalities come in different shades like in your color bar example.

    On the other hand, I have read so many negative stereotypes about extroverts that it really makes me sad to discover that some people think of us as loud, obnixious a-holes. It’s an unfair stereotype, yet I see where it comes from because I find myself getting annoyed with annoying people, extroverted or otherwise, who think they need to be the center of attention.

    Yes, it is possible that some extroverts are emotionally immature, and therefore believe everybody wants to hear them talk or see them acting crazy. But from the extreme extroverts I’ve know in my personal life, it’s not the norm. I might even go so far as to say someone who exhibits such intolerable behavior may not be a true extrovert because being an extrovert means you love being around people ‘who charge your batteries.’

    Anyway, it’s good to know the scales aren’t so slanted. Keep up the good work!

    - Jake

  3. Woah! Had no idea it was that even and that in fact introverts were a larger percent of the population. It does make sense however, what you’re saying about more introverted people seeing everyone “less” introverted than them as extroverts.

    I know I’ve personally also experienced this blending of the spectrum you mention. At times, I can be very much a loner and want to be private. Other times I’m very outgoing – like a performer. Perhaps it’s in part a lash-back of being so private at times and desiring attention/connection. In any case, someone who saw me in the quiet times would think very differently of me than in the outgoing times.

    Very interesting article…
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  4. About 15 years ago we were asked to take the Myers-Briggs at work, and from the answers I gave I was rated an extrovert. I will admit that I may be more introverted now than I was then, but if you consider that introverts are drained around others and extroverts gain energy around others, I have always been in introvert. I have always felt that I was putting on an act for the people around me. If the Myers-Briggs failed to assess me properly, how could we really know the incidence of introverts as compared to extroverts?

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  6. Hi Natalie, It is a very nice post by you. As you have written that the number of introverts are more than extroverts, this thing is really a critical issue because if a person is an introvert, then this won’t be in the favor of the future of his career.
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  11. I doubt these findings, why would a society favor outgoing, social, and communicative qualities if most people are in fact the opposite? Most people that take this personality test are people who most likely are wondering about their differences from the supposed acceptable behavior in society (extroversion).

  12. I doubt these findings, why would a society favor outgoing, social, and communicative qualities if most people are in fact the opposite? Most people that take this personality test are people who most likely are wondering about their differences from the supposed acceptable behavior in society (extroversion). The behavior’s of extroverts are just too prevalent for introverts to in fact be the majority.

  13. Joseph,
    It is only recently that society has changed to favor extroverts. The shift in internal preferences occurs much more slowly than the changes in our external societies.

    It came with the industrial revolution and the move from farming communities to big cities. Being an introvert out on a farm was an advantage. You were alone so much of the time that large gatherings were a welcome treat. Introverts don’t want to be alone ALL the time. Besides, everyone knew everyone and their families. They didn’t chat with strangers and go through our current ritual of getting to know others. Often their largest gathering was at church, where they still new everyone. If fact, the desire to interact with strangers might actually have been a detriment. Strangers can be dangerous after all.

    But when population moved to cities where most of your interactions are with strangers and large crowds are the norm, crowd tolerance and being able to make friends easily became more important.

    No mater which one you are, you are valuable. ‘Introverts are the Thinkers and Extroverts are the Doers’, which I know is a big generalization, but it has a grain of truth in it.

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  17. Thank you! I was looking all over the internet for the introvert/extrovert ratio for my thesis, and finally something based on actual data =)

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