Is introversion/extroversion even a real thing?

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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
This morning was a morning where I was hoping that perhaps the intro/extro distinction isn't real. I found this from @Rev. Todd Ruddell in an old thread:

"I would also like to give a hearty Amen! to the concept of not letting modern psychological constructs define us. Many of those who claim to be psychologists have an unbiblical view of proper anthropology. Such labels as introvert, extrovert, etc. may be helpful in identifying temporary trends in our desires and comforts, but these are not definitive, nor necessarily permanent."

I'm wondering if someone might be able to flesh out the worldly anthropology that plays into these categories like intro/extro as compared to Biblical anthropology, or the Meyers Briggs assessments, and where maybe these hard distinctions break down Biblically.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Though many involved in psychometric research might not have a biblical anthropology, personality distinctions are undeniable. I fall in the camp that believes one's personality at its core is in fact definitive and permanent.

Here is an interesting/entertaining test to take on various personality types: https://www.16personalities.com/

What was it that drove your morning hope that the intro/extro distinction isn't real?
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Wouldn't this be akin to the different gifts or parts of the body Paul often speaks about? We aren't all created the same and some of us have personality traits that are better suited for some tasks than others. A particular construct may not be absolute, but it can be useful.

I'm definitely introverted. I am comfortable around people, but I don't feel energized: it's work for me. Yet I know others who absolutely thrive off it. My idea of a good evening on a work trip is reading a book in my hotel room alone. Some of my more extroverted co-workers wonder how I don't get lonely.

So while I don't let my introverted nature become an excuse, I do recognize that it's a part of me that I can't change. I can't make myself love to be constantly engaged with people 16 hours a day.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Obviously these personality characteristics are not infallible and cannot be used as an excuse for sin, but in my experience they provide the context for conversations that help us to know ourselves and others better, which can also lead to loving others better. For example, in a recent test, the analysis suggested that I had a high tolerance for working in chaotic circumstances. I had never thought about that before, but on reflection it seemed like an accurate assessment. I once had half a closet stuffed with children's toys as my office and didn't find it distracting at all. That observation also led me to notice the fact that not everybody is like me in that respect: some people need an orderly desk and workspace in order to thrive. I never even thought about that during the years we were home-schooling our children, but it would have been a good question to have been asking them. Of course, if I use that aspect of my personality to look down on others that would be sin.

As far as extrovert/introvert goes, it was helpful to me to learn to think about those characteristics in terms of what energizes and what drains me, as Logan suggests. As an introvert, being with people drains me. When I was a pastor, I still had to spend a lot of time with people, but my wife knew that I also needed some disconnected time to recharge. My wife, on the other hand, is an extrovert. Loving her meant finding and supporting ways to help her get out of the house to be with some people after she had been alone for a while. So, while these are not biblical categories, they are a convenient label for real phenomena. How we use this knowledge can be to bless or to curse others, but that's more of a problem with us than the categories.
 

therussellhome

Puritan Board Freshman
I have found the various anthropologies helpful in understanding myself and others. But that is where I draw the line - I do not let them define me.

As @Logan points out, the Bible clearly states that God created us to have different gifts and, by extension, personalities. Paul calls out how those spiritual gifts are to be used for the body of Christ. But personality types are not addressed beyond our common sinful state and ongoing regeneration through the work of the Holy Spirit.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Time has shown "introvert and "extrovert" to be labels that help us understand ourselves and others. This helps us care for each other, so we can use these labels for godly purposes. The tendencies they represent seem real enough, though surely it's good to understand that people are complex and not all extroverts, for example, are going to be extroverted in every way—nor should they feel they're supposed to be. The labels are not God's law. We are not created to conform to the labels; rather, the labels are a tool to describe us.

There's always a danger with our labels that they will take over. We might start to feel we are fated to fit the label completely and forever, or we might start to view our core identity through the label. But let's say I'm an introvert. This should not mean I have an excuse to avoid greeting a new family at church. My core identity is not "introvert" but rather "Christian," and Christians practice hospitality. I need to go over and say hello. It fits who I am, even if a personality test has also labelled me an introvert.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I am, and have always been an introvert, but as Logan described above, I've been able to overcome my natural taciturn nature to get along in social situations. I also find it draining, and need to 'recharge' following such get togethers. It is an effort for me to socialize at church following the worship services, or to attend other social events at same. I do love my brothers and sisters in the Lord, but socializing and smalltalk is just something that doesn't come natural to me.

Contrasting that with a friend of mine who obviously feeds on socializing and the contrast is quite evident. OTOH, I do agree with Reverend Ruddell, "Such labels as introvert, extrovert, etc. may be helpful in identifying temporary trends in our desires and comforts, but these are not definitive, nor necessarily permanent."

I am far more open to placing myself in these social situations, at church, or within my community, than I was in my younger days. We are told to 'be transformed by a renewing of our minds, and just as we have to put off the old man, we have to make an effort to put on the new man. Even when it is outside of our comfort zone.
 

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Junior
This morning was a morning where I was hoping that perhaps the intro/extro distinction isn't real. I found this from @Rev. Todd Ruddell in an old thread:

"I would also like to give a hearty Amen! to the concept of not letting modern psychological constructs define us. Many of those who claim to be psychologists have an unbiblical view of proper anthropology. Such labels as introvert, extrovert, etc. may be helpful in identifying temporary trends in our desires and comforts, but these are not definitive, nor necessarily permanent."

I'm wondering if someone might be able to flesh out the worldly anthropology that plays into these categories like intro/extro as compared to Biblical anthropology, or the Meyers Briggs assessments, and where maybe these hard distinctions break down Biblically.
I'm no expert but I don't think Meyers Briggs would claim these are definitive, and must be permanent. That's all they simply are meant to do, identify trends in our desires/personalities.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I prefer the idea of cognitive functions along with some of the insights from the so-called "Objective personality" model. It is an improvement on MBTI, and it is both descriptive and allows for personality change. Introversion and extraversion are defined in terms of how one's cognitive functions relate to the outer (extraversion) or inner (introversion) world, and each person has both introverted and extraverted functions.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Introversion and extraversion are defined in terms of how one's cognitive functions relate to the outer (extraversion) or inner (introversion) world, and each person has both introverted and extraverted functions.
Interesting and sounds accurate. I have traits of being an introvert--I can enjoy hours of solitude without external aids. I like doing things or reading by myself, but I can be quite content without anything but my senses and thoughts.

But when I'm among people, I tend to be the life of the party. I ask people about their thoughts. I tell stories. I try to learn what I can from everyone. I have to consciously reign myself in lest I become over-exuberant.

When I go home, though, I'm usually exhausted.
 

jw

Administrator
Interesting and sounds accurate. I have traits of being an introvert--I can enjoy hours of solitude without external aids. I like doing things or reading by myself, but I can be quite content without anything but my senses and thoughts.

But when I'm among people, I tend to be the life of the party. I ask people about their thoughts. I tell stories. I try to learn what I can from everyone. I have to consciously reign myself in lest I become over-exuberant.

When I go home, though, I'm usually exhausted.
I'm less life of the party and more class clown. Other than that, I feel like you stole my thoughts and put them into your post.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Much to reply to here. Thank you all for the input.

@B.L. I found that 16 Personalities test to be quite helpful. I'm flattered to be an Architect, and found the description of myself to be stunningly accurate. To answer your second question, most of that reason has to do with what Dr. @iainduguid and @JimmyH brought out; it has an impact on how you do church life, and I've just been wishing I could turn off some aspects. Along with @Logan , socializing is an effort.

I am who I am, and who God made me to be, and the replies have helped me; but still there's a downside to this personality style, and I've been seeking alleviation. Ruddell's comment intrigued me because I wonder if, as @Jack K said when using these labels, we subconsciously box ourselves in, as though this is the box from which we're not coming out. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think you can't be any other way, of course you're going to become more nervous, and you will be less social. Perhaps, to this point, I've known just enough to be dangerous. There's freedom though in thinking there's no box. @JTB.SDG in that respect thinking of them only as trends is helpful.

@Afterthought could you explain more? Objective personality model?

@arapahoepark I suspect that more than one Puritan would be classed in the Introversion temperament.

@VictorBravo why not? A guy who builds airplanes in his spare time tells the best stories :)
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I found that 16 Personalities test to be quite helpful. I'm flattered to be an Architect, and found the description of myself to be stunningly accurate.
[/QUOTE]

Last time I took it, I was Logistician. I certainly felt a lot of truth to both the strengths and weaknesses listed on the site!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member

Is introversion/extroversion even a real thing?​


All of us introverts know it is a real thing. However, all those extroverts are too busy partying to think about it.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Much to reply to here. Thank you all for the input.

@B.L. I found that 16 Personalities test to be quite helpful. I'm flattered to be an Architect, and found the description of myself to be stunningly accurate. To answer your second question, most of that reason has to do with what Dr. @iainduguid and @JimmyH brought out; it has an impact on how you do church life, and I've just been wishing I could turn off some aspects. Along with @Logan , socializing is an effort.

I am who I am, and who God made me to be, and the replies have helped me; but still there's a downside to this personality style, and I've been seeking alleviation. Ruddell's comment intrigued me because I wonder if, as @Jack K said when using these labels, we subconsciously box ourselves in, as though this is the box from which we're not coming out. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think you can't be any other way, of course you're going to become more nervous, and you will be less social. Perhaps, to this point, I've known just enough to be dangerous. There's freedom though in thinking there's no box. @JTB.SDG in that respect thinking of them only as trends is helpful.

@Afterthought could you explain more? Objective personality model?

@arapahoepark I suspect that more than one Puritan would be classed in the Introversion temperament.

@VictorBravo why not? A guy who builds airplanes in his spare time tells the best stories :)

For cognitive functions, which are basically the next order approximation to measure personality and a more objective measure than MBTI tests (like the 16 personalities website); MBTI online tests are the zeroth order approximation, see here for a description of the theory (the function stack results in the letters, rather than a series of test questions): https://www.typeinmind.com/type-theory (this is another nice but non-technical intro: https://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-pr...pe-read-this-an-intro-to-cognitive-functions/)

The cognitive functions describe and predict behaviors. They do not speak about who one really is, neither will they solve any life problems nor say what should or ought to be. All they will do is give you an idea of how you or others might behave in different scenarios and what weaknesses you have and therefore might try to work on (or leave alone) or might need to deny yourself when prone to certain sins. An advantage of this though is that the questions of morality or essence of personality will be left to the religion and philosophy of the person who uses the system, making it amenable to use within a Christian worldview.

The theory can get quite complex and rich: development of different functions is allowed, prediction of behavior in different scenarios is made, and there are systems that theorize we actually have all the cognitive functions (not just the dominant four), but the main four (the ones we usually think of as the MBTI personality) are the functions we use most, along with the shadow four that we use when under a lot of stress. One can also theorize within the model, e.g., some might say that instead of us having all the cognitive functions, we are able to simulate the other functions making use of our dominant four, e.g., one can use Ne to generate possibilities and Ti to narrow them in order to predict the future and thereby simulate Ni (In my experience, there seems some truth to the idea that we can simulate other cognitive functions by use of our dominant ones; I have Ni as a shadow function, and its use to predict negativity is a very different experience than when I forecast in my everyday experience).

The Objective personality model can be found on this youtube channel (search for the introductory videos; coarse language and profanity warning in the videos): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWWwQlDFnYbX_dgDP8lJ09A

It is an attempt to objectively measure a person's personality--using the cognitive function model--without letting self or other biases get in the way. As a result, it has resulted in an insane number of personalities that really make it useless (in my opinion), and I am not convinced they succeeded in finding something objective. However, some of their insights are useful to add to the cognitive function model, and they do a good job of explaining what the different functions are and how they behave in interaction with the other functions. Making use of some of these insights with the cognitive function model results in something I have (anecdotally) found to be both predictive and useful.
 
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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior

Is introversion/extroversion even a real thing?​


All of us introverts know it is a real thing. However, all those extroverts are too busy partying to think about it.

It’s a real thing. I feel it from the bottom of my small intestine.

After a few rounds of socialization since writing the OP I was confirmed, "Yeah, it's real."

For cognitive functions, which are basically the next order approximation to measure personality and a more objective measure than MBTI tests (like the 16 personalities website); MBTI online tests are the zeroth order approximation, see here for a description of the theory (the function stack results in the letters, rather than a series of test questions): https://www.typeinmind.com/type-theory (this is another nice but non-technical intro: https://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-pr...pe-read-this-an-intro-to-cognitive-functions/)

The cognitive functions describe and predict behaviors. They do not speak about who one really is, neither will they solve any life problems nor say what should or ought to be. All they will do is give you an idea of how you or others might behave in different scenarios and what weaknesses you have and therefore might try to work on (or leave alone) or might need to deny yourself when prone to certain sins. An advantage of this though is that the questions of morality or essence of personality will be left to the religion and philosophy of the person who uses the system, making it amenable to use within a Christian worldview.

The theory can get quite complex and rich: development of different functions is allowed, prediction of behavior in different scenarios is made, and there are systems that theorize we actually have all the cognitive functions (not just the dominant four), but the main four (the ones we usually think of as the MBTI personality) are the functions we use most, along with the shadow four that we use when under a lot of stress. One can also theorize within the model, e.g., some might say that instead of us having all the cognitive functions, we are able to simulate the other functions making use of our dominant four, e.g., one can use Ne to generate possibilities and Ti to narrow them in order to predict the future and thereby simulate Ni (In my experience, there seems some truth to the idea that we can simulate other cognitive functions by use of our dominant ones; I have Ni as a shadow function, and its use to predict negativity is a very different experience than when I forecast in my everyday experience).

The Objective personality model can be found on this youtube channel (search for the introductory videos; coarse language and profanity warning in the videos): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWWwQlDFnYbX_dgDP8lJ09A

It is an attempt to objectively measure a person's personality--using the cognitive function model--without letting self or other biases get in the way. As a result, it has resulted in an insane number of personalities that really make it useless (in my opinion), and I am not convinced they succeeded in finding something objective. However, some of their insights are useful to add to the cognitive function model, and they do a good job of explaining what the different functions are and how they behave in interaction with the other functions. Making use of some of these insights with the cognitive function model results in something I have (anecdotally) found to be both predictive and useful.

Wow, thank you. Seems like a good field of study if you are in any kind of people-intensive work.

What are these shadow four that you refer to?
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Wow, thank you. Seems like a good field of study if you are in any kind of people-intensive work.

What are these shadow four that you refer to?
It can be somewhat useful in leadership, communication, and motivation. Since the functions reflect values, if one can figure out the dominant function of another person, one can consciously communicate and motivate better in accordance with their strength.

The shadow four functions are ones that come out in negative situations (such as stress) and are used in a negative way. If you ignore the weird philosophy of Jung, here is an explanation (also some videos on Objective Personality have some explanation): https://www.psychologyjunkie.com/2017/11/10/introduction-shadow-functions/
 
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