Extrovert: 15 traits & 5 benefits of extraversion
Extrovert people often appear more attractive, smarter and are more popular at work. But the open character does not only have advantages. We’ll show you which character traits go hand in hand with extraversion, what advantages and disadvantages there are, and how to tell if you’re an extrovert.
If you tend to draw your energy from meetings with more people, you’re probably extroverted. You’ll feel worse if you’re alone for an extended period of time.
Definition of "extrovert" – What extraversion means
The adjective extrovert means outwardly directed and easily susceptible to outside influences. The word extrovert is an approximation of the original term extraverted.
Both words, extrovert and extraverted, have the same meaning and are considered correct spellings. Synonyms for extrovert or extraverted, words with the same meaning, are:
Extrovert, introvert, and ambivert
The adjective extrovert or actually extraverted is the adjective formation to the term extraversion. The counterparts to the terms are introvert and introversion.
The counterpart pair introversion and extraversion describes a stable personality trait. The terms were first used in 1921 in Carl Jung’s Theory of Personality Types.
According to Jung’s theory, a person’s psychic energy is directed either outward (extrovert) or inward (introvert). In each case, this orientation relates to the person’s perception, intuition, thinking, and feeling.
Most people, however, cannot clearly assign themselves to one pole, but lie in between. These people are referred to as ambivert.
The term extraversion is composed of the Latin words "extra" (outside) and "vertere" (to turn). Introversion, on the other hand, is made up of the Latin words "intro" (inside) and "vertere" (turn).
These word meanings suggest that introverts and extroverts tend to have different behaviors and characteristics.
Extroverts tend to be active, sociable, and enjoy being around people. They love company, whether in their personal lives or at work.
In contrast to extroverts, introverts tend to appear serious, thoughtful and quiet. On the job, they prefer to work in a concentrated manner and on their own. Instead of being the center of attention, introverts often take on the role of observers in larger groups.
They recharge their batteries in solitude or in deep, detailed conversations with people they are familiar with. In addition, they often tend to avoid direct conflicts or give in more quickly.
Extraversion in the Big Five Model
The Big Five model refers to a model of personality psychology. According to this model, there are five basic dimensions of personality. With the help of these dimensions, a person’s traits can be measured on a scale. These five dimensions are:
- Open-mindedness to experience (open-mindedness)
- Conscientiousness (perfectionism)
- Extraversion (sociability)
- Compatibility (thoughtfulness)
- Neuroticism (emotional lability and vulnerability)
In the dimension of extraversion, people move accordingly between the poles of extraversion and introversion. People with high extraversion are therefore extroverted and people with low extraversion introverted.
Traits of extroverted people
First of all, it is necessary to clarify what character traits are. Character traits refer to the traits of a person that, when combined, make up his or her personality.
The interaction of the character traits of different people and thus the personality of each person is individual and different.
One part of an individual’s character is determined by hereditary factors. The other part is shaped by environment and experiences. These two factors, genes and environment, interact with each other.
In short, then, some of our character traits are innate and not fundamentally changeable, while others can be transformed over time by, for example, education and social environment-and these traits can reinforce or weaken each other.
Generally, however, it is assumed that a person is introverted, extroverted, or even ambivert from birth.
Extraversion therefore has genetic and biological causes. The influence of the environment on the development of this personality dimension is rather subordinate.
Compared to introverts, extroverts lack the internal stimuli that are necessary to achieve an optimal level of excitement in the brain. Thus, they have a greater hunger for stimuli and need external stimuli to achieve this level of arousal.
Accordingly, the following characteristics emerge that are typical of an extroverted person:
As an extroverted person, you enjoy being around people. You fill up your energy reserves in contact with other people. You draw your strength from being together and talking with other people. When you are alone for long periods of time, you feel uncomfortable and become restless.
You love meeting new people. It’s not a problem for you to get into a situation where you don’t know anyone, as you immediately approach people and make new contacts.
You like to have conversations often. You find it easy to start conversations, even with strangers. In conversations, you are often the driving force and take the lead.
You don’t rack your brains over upcoming decisions, but act on your gut. You don’t think about the consequences of your actions.
Most of the time you directly take a superior position in contact with other people. You already express your dominance with your body language: through an erect posture, a confident appearance, an impenetrable mimic. You take rights for yourself that you don’t grant to other people.
As an extrovert, you are adventurous and like to experience exciting things. You like to face new challenges, are constantly on the move and are not afraid of unknown and unfamiliar situations.
You don’t need much thinking time to make resolutions. Your actions follow sudden impulses. Even with upcoming ventures, you don’t plan grandly, but follow your inner impulse directly. If someone asks you on short notice if you would like to do something, you say yes directly without having to think about it for a long time.
You have sudden inspirations which you follow immediately. You act accordingly quickly and are perceived as a temperamental person. Your actions are accordingly honest and natural, but also rash.
You are daring and tend to risky undertakings. You are aware of the possible negative consequences of your actions, but you consciously accept this. The pressure of avoiding mistakes spurs you on and makes the situation attractive to you.
You give expression to your feelings and thoughts, both through your mimic and gestures. In conversations, people can clearly read your emotions from your face. When you’re conversing, you use your body language, specifically your hands, to express what you’re saying.
You have clear intentions and specific goals in mind, and you are willing to prioritize and make sacrifices to achieve them. Once you make a decision, you remain steadfast and stick to your intentions even when difficulties arise.
You are an energetic person and do not hesitate to take action when certain goals require it. You can stand up to others. Often your behavior is perceived as lacking empathy.
You set fairly high goals and apply yourself with a lot of perseverance and discipline to achieve those goals. As an extrovert, you prioritize and put other things on the back burner until you succeed. You don’t settle for small successes; you want to achieve the best possible.
You can get quickly excited about things. Accordingly, you often develop passions and stand up for things with conviction. You manage to carry other people along so that they get excited about these things as well.
As an extrovert, you act and are active yourself instead of just watching others do it. You don’t just tolerate situations, but use your power and exert influence to change them according to your ideas.
Test: Are you an extrovert?
Perhaps you have already been able to classify yourself as an extrovert based on these characteristics. If not, you can complete a small test in the following to create clarity.
Note that very few people are purely introverted or purely extroverted, but mostly lie in between and have a tendency in one direction or the other.
Below we list some statements that apply to extroverts. Think about the statements and decide which apply to you and which do not.
If you can identify with more than half of the statements, you are more likely to be an extrovert. If you disagree with the majority of the statements, you are more introverted.
- You like to make small talk.
- You make friends easily.
- You find it difficult to be alone for long periods of time.
- You prefer to meet in large groups rather than individually with friends.
- You prefer oral conversations to written conversations because you can express yourself better that way.
- Your goals are clearly defined and you put a lot of effort into achieving them.
- You decide from the gut, without long to weigh different outputs.
- It gives you no problem to be the center of attention and you sometimes even enjoy it.
- You prefer group work to individual work.
- In large group discussions, you easily represent your point of view.
- You do not withhold your own opinion, even if that increases the potential for conflict.
- You often take the lead.
- Unforeseen situations are no problem for you.
- You like to go to social events.
- Your hobbies are daring and action-packed.
- You are very spontaneous.
Advantages and disadvantages of extraversion
Many characteristics of extroverts help them in certain life situations. Other traits, on the other hand, can present problems and obstacles.
If you are aware of these advantages and disadvantages of each character trait, you may find it easier to adjust your behavior in certain situations to benefit from them.
Advantages of extraversion
Extroverts can especially benefit from their sociability and ambition. Below we list some situations in which extroverts have an advantage with their traits.
As an extrovert, you approach strangers openly, can start and carry on conversations easily, and make new contacts quickly.
This will benefit you if your social environment changes frequently, for example if you change your place of residence and job more often or are constantly surrounded by new people for other reasons.
As an extrovert, you don’t find the unfamiliar situation stressful, but actually appealing and a chance to meet new people and friends.
Sovereignty at work
Extroverts are talkative, expressive and enthusiastic. These traits help you tremendously, especially on the job, as you can easily master interactions.
In job interviews, presentations or similar, you remain easily and can convince your counterpart of you and your views through honesty and authenticity.
Success in different areas of life
Because of their enthusiasm, extroverts often develop passions or beliefs that they hold. Their ambition leads them to set specific goals.
In a professional context, this could be a promotion; in a personal context, for example, it could be a desired weight.
Because they are strong-willed and energetic, they do everything they can to achieve this goal and at times make it their priority. They are not discouraged by setbacks and so are often able to achieve success, which in turn motivates them to aim higher.
Extroverts do not simply let problematic situations sit. They follow their inner impulse and act immediately, without agonizing for long.
This active attitude leads to tackling practical problems directly and solving them as quickly as possible.
As an extrovert person, you do not think long about possible consequences, but act immediately and intuitively. Sometimes the existing risk makes situations really interesting for you.
This has the advantage that you face new challenges and situations more often and rarely stand in your own way.
Disadvantages of extraversion
However, depending on the context and the degree, exactly these or other characteristics can also be a disadvantage for extroverts. The following situations often prove to be disadvantageous for extroverts.
Your openness and sociability as an extrovert can be perceived by others as unpleasant and intrusive.
While you enjoy being around people and constantly making new contacts, other people sometimes prefer to be on their own or content with their usual social environment.
Additionally, this person may be somewhat reserved and may not want to or be able to tell you directly to your face that they are not interested in talking to you.
So make sure that the person you are talking to also wants to interact with you, and avoid talking mainly about yourself and not letting the person you are talking to get a word in edgewise.
You act purposefully and straightforwardly to achieve your goals. In doing so, you may suppress or let others fall by the wayside with the priorities you set.
For example, if you use your energy to push through against others or disregard the interests of others in order to get your way, you run the risk of putting those people at a disadvantage.
So be sure to curb your impulsiveness in such cases and put yourself in the shoes of those around you before you act.
Your impulsiveness and risk-taking do prevent you from getting in your own way by worrying too much and slowing yourself down. However, in some situations this behavior is reckless and it is important to be aware of the possible consequences beforehand.
Especially if your actions could have serious consequences for you and others. So in these situations, weigh whether the stimulus and the possible outcome justify this risk.
While introverts recharge their batteries and engage with themselves in quiet, many extroverts notice that they become restless when they are alone for too long or not engaged in an exciting activity.
They lack external stimuli to reach their optimal arousal level. They become jittery, uncomfortable, and crave social contact and adventure.
In addition, extroverts are bored more quickly. They need a certain amount of adventure and risk to get enough stimulation. Planned-out, repetitive and forward-looking activities are not exciting enough for them.
Especially in a friendship or relationship with an introvert, this can cause problems. Introverts are content with more relaxed and less exciting activities, which extroverts often can’t relate to.
In this case, have understanding for the other person, try to find a compromise, or find friends who want to do these activities as much as you do, instead of pushing someone to do them.
Become an extrovert
As mentioned earlier, extraversion or inversion is innate and cannot be greatly influenced. However, to a certain extent, a certain behavior can be trained to adapt to certain life circumstances.
Thus, an introvert person can also partially train extrovert character traits – and vice versa – in order to draw advantages from this behavior in certain situations.
Especially at work, some characteristics of extroverts are advantageous. Dominance, expressiveness, and ambition, for example, convey a confident demeanor and expertise.
They are necessary in some situations to gain respect and persuade others. If these traits don’t come naturally to you, you can train them specifically.
Well-known examples of influential introverts are Germany’s former chancellor Angela Merkel and former President Barack Obama. Their introversion is certainly a decisive factor for their competencies, but only certain extrovert behaviors enable them to communicate with confidence.
For example, if you want to become more outgoing, put yourself in situations where you are surrounded by strangers as often as possible. Observe how other people approach new people.
Pay attention to their body language, mimic, and what they say. If it’s easier for you, you can accompany an extroverted friend and watch them do this.
Remember these approaches and decide which methods you are most comfortable with. For example, what facial expressions you can naturally adopt and what sayings or conversation-opening topics appeal to you. Then set specific realistic goals like "Tonight I’m going to approach a new person."
When the time comes, all you have to do is gather your courage. Once you’ve done it, you can set your sights on multiple or deeper conversations next time.