Extroverts With Social Anxiety: A Rare Sighting?

This article by Katie Tyrrell first appeared on eCounseling.com on February 1, 2021. I love sharing posts about personality and mental health, and I’m so happy to have the chance to share this one about how social anxiety affects extroverts. It reappears here with permission of eCounseling. If you’d like to read an article about introverts and social anxiety, you can click here.

Social anxiety occurs when a person experiences anxiety symptoms in social situations or large groups. It is commonly considered to be an issue for people who are more introverted by nature. An introverted person may be someone who prefers to be alone and stay away from groups. An extrovert is seen as someone who enjoys being around other people and socializing in groups. It would seem obvious that only an introvert would experience social anxiety due to their preference of being alone. But what about extroverts? Do they experience social anxiety? 

Extraversion vs. Intraversion

Extraversion is a personality trait commonly associated with outgoing, social, and loud people. Introversion personality traits are associated with people who are quiet, reserved, and often keeps to themselves. These two concepts are viewed as absolutes in modern society, meaning a person is either an introvert or an extrovert. But is that true?

While there are only two groups for extroverts and introverts, each person has varying characteristics within those categories. Extroversion traits are not universal! People who consider themselves extroverts may have different comfortability in social situations than other extroverts. 

The traits fall along a spectrum from the most outgoing or social person to a very isolated or reserved individual. People tend to lean towards extroversion or introversion and have varying degrees of comfortability in different social situations. It is common that people have tendencies that would be attributed to both extroversion and introversion.

Some facets of extroversion include being sociable, warm, assertive, active, excitement-seeking, and having positive emotionality. Every extrovert’s scores in these facets will vary and are important to note as they account for the differences in extrovert personalities. 

For example, a person may love going out to a party but hate public speaking. This person would likely score high on the sociable and excitement-seeking spectrum but lower on assertiveness. Another extrovert may feel completely at ease in front of a crowd but struggle to make conversation at a party.

One way to evaluate if you lean towards extroversion or introversion is to consider what brings you joy and energizes you. For example, if you prefer to go out for drinks with friends after a hard day at work and enjoy the social life, you may lean towards extroversion. If you prefer to go home and relax on the couch in comfy clothes, you may lean towards introversion. Everyone likely enjoys these activities at different times; however, this simplified example may help you determine which way you lean on the spectrum.

family cooking a meal together

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations usually associated with the fear of others’ judgment. Social anxiety disorder often leads to a person’s avoidance of social situations. When social situations are unavoidable, anxiety symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, shaking, or shortness of breath may occur. 

Social anxiety is a disorder that develops over time and is thought to result from environmental and genetic factors such as a bad social experience, early childhood trauma or family history of mental health issues. It is typically treated by seeking out a psychotherapist, with CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] believed by many to be among the more effective treatments.

Extroverts with Social Anxiety

So, the question remains, do extroverts struggle with a social anxiety disorder? The answer is yes. Any person, regardless of personality traits, can develop a social anxiety disorder. Extrovert-leaning people tend to be drawn to social interactions more than introvert-leaning people; however, this does not keep them from developing anxiety in social situations.

While extroverts do struggle with social anxiety disorder, they may be less likely to develop social anxiety than introverts. Studies suggest that extroverted individuals are less likely to develop social anxiety disorder if they have high scores in the positive emotionality facet of extroversion. 

Positive emotionality is the tendency towards positive mood states such as happiness, excitement, confidence, and joy. This facet of extroversion is linked to lower levels of social anxiety and depression. Positive emotionality appears to be a protective factor reducing the risk of developing social anxiety.

Interestingly, extroverts tend to have higher positive emotionality levels, meaning they score higher on happiness assessments, positive social relationships, and emotional regulation than introverted individuals. These traits seem to serve as buffers guarding against social anxiety disorder.

How Common is It?

While it may be just as possible for extroverts to develop social anxiety disorders, it appears there are protective factors that extroverts possess more easily than introverted individuals. However, when social anxiety symptoms are present, they may be more debilitating for extroverts as they struggle to engage in the social environment. 

Social anxiety may interfere with the activities and events that bring extroverts pleasure, impacting their mental health more intensely than introverts. An introvert struggling with social anxiety can still engage in the reserved and quiet pastimes that bring them pleasure, despite the social anxiety struggles. 

It is not a rare sight for people with extroversion tendencies to experience a social anxiety disorder, though it is less likely than people with introversion tendencies. It seems more likely for people with introverted tendencies to experience social anxiety disorder exaggerated by their natural tendency for isolation.

About the author: Katie Tyrrell, MS, LPCC, is a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC). She has a passion for healing trauma using body-based somatic therapy. Katie believes that healing trauma and restoring physical and emotional health comes from healing the body and nervous system.

Featured image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How To Start A Deeper Conversation With Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type

This pandemic might have us stuck at home and/or keeping our distance from other people. But that doesn’t mean we have to go without conversation. We humans are social creatures, and even the introverts need other people sometimes. And so we head online to talk with people on social media, or pull out our phones and call a friend, or join one of the Zoom hang-outs that people are organizing to stay in touch. If we’re still leaving our homes, we might have the chance to talk with customers and co-workers in-person as well.

But what do you talk about?

Assuming you want to move beyond the weather and other small-talk, then you’ll need to find a topic that the other person is interested in as well. When trying to draw others into conversation, it can help to know what things different personality types like to talk about.

I recently published two posts about how to tell which Myers-Briggs® type you’re having a conversation with: How Do You Know If You’re Talking with a Feeling or a Thinking Type? and How Do You Know If You’re Talking with an Intuitive or a Sensing Type? Figuring out which personality type someone has is going to involve talking with them quite a bit, so if that’s part of your goal then you’ll already be having a conversation with. Once you know someone’s type, or have a good guess which type they might be, then knowing how to start a deeper conversation with each personality type can help you move past small-talk to connecting on a more meaningful level. Read more

Going Crazy Stuck at Home? Here Are an Introvert’s Tips for Making the Most of Social Distancing

As an introvert who works from home, I’m used to being socially distant from people for the better part of each week. For most of us, though, the coronavirus quarantine is way outside our normal way of life. Even many introverts are discovering they miss being around people more than they thought they would. Humans are social creatures, and we all need other people to a certain extent.

For me personally, I know from a week spent house-sitting that I don’t do well if I’m completely isolated for more than a couple days. Thankfully I live with family, so I’m not too terribly lonely even with the quarantine. But I know there are many people who live alone, or who are stuck in situations where the people they live with aren’t safe to be around, or who are so extroverted that just having a couple other people in the house isn’t enough to keep them from going stir-crazy.

Thankfully, your introverted friends have been preparing for just this sort of situation. We’re full of good ideas for how to spend your time when you can’t (or don’t want to) be around other people. Since we’re stuck at home anyway we might as well make the most of it, so here are an introvert’s best tips for how to put your time in social isolation to good use.

Keep In Touch

As I’ve said before, introverts need people too. We all (to varying degrees) need a certain amount of human interaction to keep mentally and even physically healthy. Thanks to modern technology, there are plenty of ways to do that without actually being in the same room as the other person.

Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch. I used to hate the phone, but now I’ve changed my mind just enough that I’m happy to spend hours talking with a few close friends. If you really want to communicate with someone calling is a faster way with more immediate feedback than text or email. But if phones aren’t your thing (or, like me, there are only a very few people you feel comfortable calling), then write a letter or send an email or shoot someone a text.

Read A Book

Reading has long been a favorite at-home activity for both introverts and extroverts. If you have not been hoarding books like the apocalypse is coming and you might be the last library left in the world (I have 1,100+ books on my shelves), then you can order some online, download ebooks, or turn to our local library. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, and ISTP Types Live-In-The-Moment People Who Can’t Commit?

Most of us tend to oversimplify Myers-Briggs® personality types. Even the types we think of as more complicated and which some writers treat as almost otherworldly (like the INFJ) gets reduced to stereotypes. Some types are painted in broad strokes as boring traditionalist, others as logical geniuses, and still others as innovative daydreamers.

And then there are the SP types. They’re the live-in-the-moment adrenaline junkies and hedonists, who love to make art and party and never commit to anything. But is that really a fair stereotype? Or is it just as overly simplistic and unfair to these four personality types as are the myths surrounding other Myers-Briggs® types?

Roots of the Stereotype

When David Keirsey published his own personal take on the Myers-Briggs® personality types, he paid particular attention to the SP types. He’s the one who decided to categorize them together and labeled them the “Artisans.” He also called them the “hedonist” types and said they are looking for a “playmate” in relationships. Though he didn’t really use function theory to describe type, he mainly focused on the Extroverted Sensing side of their personalities to the exclusion of other factors.

This oversimplification of the SP types is one of the main reasons why I don’t like the way David Keirsey talked about personality types. He skips over their inner motivations (a problem that Lenore Thomson talks about in her book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual) and leaves us with the hedonistic stereotype that has come to be so much a part of the definitions we use for ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, and ISTP types (especially the extroverts). Read more

Everyone Has Layers, Including Introverts and Extroverts

I recently read an article that made the claim extroverts will never understand that an introverted personality has multiple layers. I’m not going to link to this article because it’s not my intention to attack the writer, but I mention it to highlight a common misconception among introverts — that our personalities are more complex than extroverts.

The truth is, all people have layers. And we all — both introverts and extroverts — have a tendency to assume that how we see people act initially is how they act all the time. We meet someone who seems chatty and friendly, we assume they’re generally a talkative and friendly person. We meet someone who’s quiet and reserved, we assume they’re generally a private, quiet person.

But just as introverts don’t want people to assume they’re nothing more than a quiet person who doesn’t speak up much in crowds, extroverts don’t want people to assume there’s nothing more to them than the life-of-the-party social butterfly. We’re all complex, layered people with nuances to our personalities.

The Masks We Wear

Introverts often talk about how we wear different “masks” in different situations. We have our social mask that we put on when hanging out with a group or meeting new people. In this mask, we can be so engaging and talkative that sometimes people might even mistake us for extroverts. And we might have other masks, too — the professional one we put on for work, the polite one we wear interacting with retail workers, the “don’t talk to me” one we wear when in a public place and we don’t want disturbed.

We don’t usually think of the version of ourselves we show the world (especially new acquaintances) as a complete picture of who we really are. Introverts tend to be private people who keep a large part of their personalities hidden. We take time to open up to people and let them see behind any of our masks.

The thing is, extroverts do this too. Even the most social extrovert has layers to their personality that they don’t share with everyone. Extroverts also wear masks to fit in with different social situations and groups, just like introverts do. Depending on their personality type and individual preferences, some extroverts might be even more private than introverts regarding their personal lives.

Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: What’s The Rarest Personality Type?

As an INFJ, I often see people talking about how it’s the rarest personality type. According to every type distribution I’ve seen this statement is true. However, I’ve also seen quite a few INFJs treat this rarity as if there’s a huge gap between how rare we are compared to the other personality types. Some also treat this rarity as meaning that we INFJs are so rare no one else can relate to us and/or that it makes us extra special.

While INFJs are the rarest type overall, there are other types that are almost as rare. And when we break type distributions down by gender, INFJ is not the rarest type among women (though it is among men). You can see the Estimated Frequencies of the Types in the United States Population in this chart:

Personality Type Myth-Busting: What's The Rarest Personality Type? | LikeAnAnchor.com

Relative Rarity For Each Type

As you can see from the type distribution chart at the start of this post, most of the Intuitive types each make up less than 5% of the population. The estimates from Center of Application for Psychological Type cover a pretty broad range, though. The Myers-Briggs® Foundation offers more specific estimates in addition to the ranges. These percentages pin-point INFJ at 1.5%, ENTJ 1.8%, INTJ at 2.1%, and ENFJ at 2.5%. They’re all pretty rare. Read more