Imagine a person who:

  • Mostly prefers written communication (email, instant messaging) to making phone/video calls or seeing face-to-face
  • Hardly ever watches videos on the internet. Prefers reading
  • At college/uni, instead of attending lectures/seminars, would successfully study things on their own using the recommended materials, and would always pass the exams
  • Would rather sort things out themselves instead of asking for help/directions
  • Are great at working from home
  • Generally does not socialise and are very happy to stay on their own / keep to themselves
  • Avoids living in cities and prefers rural low-to-zero populated areas
  • Does not hate people but just finds most of them rather boring or being nuisance
  • Despite all the above, are very positive and friendly when communicating face-to-face and are very valued within their professional circle

I have been trying to find a term to describe such a person but so far all terms that I found seem to bear a negative connotation or identify a disorder. There is no negativity or disorder here as the person does not feel stress or disability and are very happy with what they are.

Examples of terms that are close but do not match for reasons explained:

  • Autism spectrum and Asperger syndrome are both defined as "disorders" with "difficulties". The person does not have any difficulties: they do appear socialising and communicating just fine — when they need it for some purpose other than socialising/communicating itself;
  • Misanthrope actually hates people (which makes the term regarded as rather negative). The subject person does not. They simply avoid seeing people unnecessarily;
  • Recluse is a very close call, but it describes a person who does live that way without conveying anything of whether they want to live that way. A very social party goer may hide away and be a recluse if a gang is after them. Conversely, the subject person who, despite their preference, lives in a big city and participates in social drinks at work just because it secures their career cannot be called "recluse";
  • Loner is another good word but it is not sufficiently neutral. As the linked article says, "the modern term "loner" can be used with a negative connotation in the belief that human beings are social creatures and those that do not participate are deviant."
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. As you are looking for a definition which is nothing to do with psychological or neurological disorders, I think this question would be more suited to English Language Learners or English Language Usage. I would also suggest giving examples of words you think don't fit your criteria and why. How do they bear a negative connotation? $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2019 at 5:29
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers the definition I am after may not have anything to do with disorders but it certainly has a lot to do with psychological or neurological considerations. Say why does the subject person find uni lectures boring and studies more efficiently on books? $\endgroup$
    – Greendrake
    Sep 5, 2019 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ "Reserved" could be the word you are looking for? $\endgroup$
    – Tony
    Sep 5, 2019 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ I think some of the traits you are asking about may not necessarily be as linked as it may seem, for example many people prefer low-population areas but like face-to-face conversation, especially with people close to them rather than strangers. As far as "why does the subject person find uni lectures boring and studies more efficiently on books?" - this topic is usually addressed in educational literature in terms of learning styles and also need not necessarily fit with all the other traits you describe. It sounds like you are describing a person. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 5, 2019 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ See also psychology.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2374/… $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 5, 2019 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


I agree with @AlwaysConfused that this sounds very like someone with Asperger's.

However, if you want a more "neutral" term, would Introvert help?

Such a person - an Ixxx on the Myers-Briggs scale - typically finds their "energy levels" drain when in groups of people, and recharge when they are on their own.

  • $\begingroup$ Whenever I study about ASD, Narcissism and Introversion i can quite easily distinguish the 3 as very much different conditions though they may co-occur at a combination and also may superficially look the same but the conditions are basically very different. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2019 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ Given that the OP denies any affect over everyday functioning, I think introversion is pretty close, and MBTI types that include introversion such as INTJ or INFJ or INTP or INFP is very close match. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2019 at 17:45

The description strongly matches with Autism, Autism spectrum disorder and Asperger syndrome.

See also:

  1. Asperger syndrome

  2. Autism spectrum condition

  3. Autism

Classically, Asperger syndrome was characterised by no obvious delay in language development, and in some cases Aspergers tend to have a very vast vocabulary.

I did not understand what is meant by a neutral term.

Autism is not a bad word at all. Many autistics consider autism as their identity, or the right term to explain who are they and what does the typically developing people require to know about them.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks but those are all "disorders" with "difficulties". The subject person does not have any difficulties with what they are. $\endgroup$
    – Greendrake
    Sep 5, 2019 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Greendrake I believe that is addressed in the update? In addition, no such diagnosis would be given unless the symptoms (and others you do not describe) inhibit 'normal' everyday functioning (thus, it becoming a disorder). You are likely to find autistic traits in everyone. I agree with Chris you might perhaps be more interested in English Language Use SE. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Sep 5, 2019 at 7:57
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris the point is that you don't label someone with a word that names a diagnosable condition, unless you have a diagnosis. $\endgroup$
    – hobbs
    Sep 5, 2019 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @hobbs yes. Somewhat what I was implying, no? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Sep 5, 2019 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Greendrake There is one very important aspect regarding disorders: A disorder is some anomaly of a person that causes suffering. That means that part of the definition, there is suffering. It is not the anomaly in itself. That means that an aspect of a person that is different from normal is not in itself a disorder. Many things are that are described as disorders may be perceived as normal for some people, without causing any suffering whatsoever. In this case, it is clearly not a disorder! It is named disorder only because it becomes subject to medicine only in the cause it causes suffering $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2019 at 11:11

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