The author here claims:

A great leader knows that making room for both extroverts and introverts to share their thoughts could be the key to whether or not their next project succeeds or fails.

This document purports:

Carl Jung and the authors of the Myers–Briggs provide a different perspective and suggest that everyone has both an extraverted side and an introverted side, with one being more dominant than the other. Rather than focusing on interpersonal behavior, however, Jung defined introversion as an "attitude-type characterised by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents" (focus on one's inner psychic activity); and extraversion as "an attitude type characterised by concentration of interest on the external object" (the outside world)

The commentator writes:

The distinction between introvert and extrovert is shallow psychology. They are sometimes used condescendingly by angsty individuals at either side of the imaginary spectrum. The truth isn't even that most people fall somewhere in between. There is no gray area, because these matters are not black and white. Their use leads to generalization and over-simplification of delicate subject matter. Introvert vs. extrovert is always a sledgehammer where a scalpel is required.

My question is: What is the evidence to suggest that the introvert/extrovert distinction is a shallow distinction?

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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify what constitutes evidence for a shallow distinction. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ A model based on a study that shows there are other factors involved in the observation where people categorise the evidence as a black and white distinction between 'introvert' and 'extrovert'. $\endgroup$
    – hawkeye
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ The introvert-extrovert dichotomy spans an amount of theories and measures too large to cover on SE. Any meaningful answer to this question would require a literature review and meta-analysis. It can be answered if you narrow your question down to a specific measure. The problem may simply be that, as used in the original article, introvert-extrovert is actually shallow psychology in the sense that the author doesn't seem to understand what those words cover. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


I think it is safe to say that in psychological research on personality differences, extraversion (vs. introversion) is one of the most important personality dimensions. In fact, extraversion (along with neuroticism) has been included in "virtually all major dispositional models" (see Watson, Clark, & Harkness, 1994; Zuckerman, Kuhlman, Joireman, & Teta, 1993; as cited in Watson et al. 1999). Extraversion can be reliably measured with personality questionnaires (e.g. Costa & MaCrae, 1992), it is a heritable trait (e.g., Jang et al. 1996) and it meaningfully predicts other important variables such as trait positive affectivity (Watson et al. 2009) or job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002) to pick two arbitrary examples.

Of course, neither does this mean that it is useful to categorize people into introverts and extraverts (personality research has long moved away from "type" approaches to investigate gradual differences) nor does this mean that extraversion is the only personality difference that matters (it is an important one, but there are others).

In conclusion, extraversion-introversion is a robust and widely replicated personality dimension that features in almost all models of personality.


Costa, P.T.,Jr. & McCrae, R.R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Jang, K.; Livesley, W. J.; Vemon, P. A. (1996). Heritability of the Big Five Personality Dimensions and Their Facets: A Twin Study. Journal of Personality 64 (3): 577–591.

Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Mount, M. K. (2002). Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 530–541. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.87.3.530

Watson, D., Wiese, D., Vaidya, J., & Tellegen, A. (1999). The two general activation systems of affect: Structural findings, evolutionary consider- ations, and psychobiological evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 820–838.

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    $\begingroup$ Very nice. I think you could easily venture a stronger conclusion than "it seems premature," like "extraversion-introversion is a robust and widely replicated personality dimension that features in almost all models of personality." +1, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the suggestion. It was a failed attempt to spoof the typical exaggerated academic understatement. I like your take on it better and have changed the answer accordingly $\endgroup$
    – user7759
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ Failed attempt? I bought it hook line and sinker, I just thought non-academics might think you were equivocating. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 7:52

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