Easily the most fascintaing and illuminating comparison of introversion and extroversion I’ve ever seen:

The fact that introverts’ brains are buzzing means that introverts are likely to:

  • Be absorbed in thought
  • Avoid crowds and seek quiet
  • Reflect and act in a careful way
  • Lose sight of what others are doing
  • Not show much facial expression or reaction
  • Get agitated without enough time alone or undisturbed
  • Proceed cautiously in meeting people and participate only in selected activities
  • Reduce eye contact when speaking to focus on collecting words and thoughts; increase eye contact when listening to take in information
  • Surprise others with their wealth of information
  • Shy away from too much attention or focus on themselves
  • Keep energy inside, making it difficult for others to know them
  • Appear glazed, dazed, or zoned out when stressed, tired, or in groups

The dominance of the long acetylcholine pathway means introverts:

  • Hesitate before speaking
  • May start talking in the middle of a thought, which can confuse others
  • Have a good memory but take a long time to retrieve memories
  • Can forget things they know very well — might stumble around when explaining their job or temporarily forget a word they want to use
  • May think they told you something when they just have thought about it
  • Not offer ideas freely; may need to be asked their opinion
  • Are clearer about ideas, thoughts, and feelings after sleeping on them
  • May not be aware of their thoughts unless they write or talk about them

The activation of the parasympathetic nervous system means that introverts:

  • May have trouble getting motivated or moving; might appear lazy
  • May be slow to react under stress
  • May have a calm or reserved manner; may walk, talk, or eat slowly
  • May need to regulate protein intake and body temperature
  • Must have breaks to restore energy

Traits of introverted children:

  • Watch and listen before joining an activity
  • Concentrate deeply on subjects of interest
  • Enjoy time alone in their room, energized by introspection
  • Speak after thinking things through
  • Have a strong sense of personal space and dislike people sitting too close or coming into their room without knocking
  • Be private and may need to be asked what they are thinking and feeling
  • Need validation; may have irrational self-doubts
  • Talk a lot if the topic is interesting, or if they are comfortable with the people

On social anxiety:

Rather than being self-centered, introverts are often really the opposite. Our ability to focus on our internal world and reflect on what we are feeling and experiencing allows us to understand the external world and other human beings better. What appears to be self-centeredness is actually the very talent that provides the capacity to understand what it’s like to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Introverts aren’t unsocial — they are just social in a different way. Introverts need fewer relationships, but they like more connection and intimacy. Since it takes a great deal of our energy to engage with other people, we are reluctant to need to spend too much energy on socializing. That’s why we don’t enjoy idle chitchat. We prefer meaty conversations, which nourish us and energize us. Energy conservation is also why we are very interested in other people but sometimes prefer to observe others rather than join them.

From the outside, many introverts give no hint about the mental gears grinding and meshing inside. In social situations their faces may look impassive or uninterested. Unless they are overwhelmed or they are really disinterested (if the topic is too lightweight), they are usually just thinking about what people are saying. They will share their thoughts if asked. People in the group may start to exclude introverts if they don’t keep eye contact and don’t give clues that they are listening.

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