I’m an Extrovert

Who knew? I don’t think anyone would have guessed it before I figured it out. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but I’ve been procrastinating, because I know it will be fairly long.

Let’s back up and give you some background. When I was much younger–four or five years old, probably–my family all took the Enneagram personality test. The Enneagram typing system, briefly, has nine numbers that stand for different personality types. 1 is the Perfectionist, 2 is the Helper, 3 is the Achiever, etc. According to the Enneagram typing system, you are primarily one of these numbers, with part of an adjacent number as your “wing.”

As I’ve had more time to think about it–three quarters of my life, technically–I’ve come to not like it very much, but at the time, it inspired in me a love of personality typing. (The reason I don’t particularly like–though don’t dislike–the Enneagram system is that it is a measure of the obvious; that is, it tells you what your behaviors are. Its types are also broad enough so that I tend to overlap in many of them, making it more difficult to believe I was a certain type simply because I may have answered one question differently to get that type.)

Fast forward some time–I didn’t keep track of how long; I didn’t know I’d be writing this blog post–and my brother discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It uses four binaries to create sixteen personality types. In other words, the types are four letters, each letter can be one of two: I or E, S or N, F or T, and J or P. An advantage–in my mind–MBTI has over the Enneagram system is that it is based on Jungian cognitive theory; that is, it tries to type how people think at their core, but not their behavior, necessarily. That will be important later.

Though my brother has since come to deplore it–though I’m sure he would use lesser language–at the time, he was fascinated with it. Our whole family took tests, and I came out as ISTP. The important part to understand about this is that the first letter can either be an I or and E, standing for Introvert and Extrovert respectively.

At the time, it seemed to fit my personality quite well. I recall one of the descriptions of ISTPs being that they were a bit of a mercenary, and I, being the young, foolish boy I was, saw that and ignored the rest. Whether or not I would have realized anything then had I looked further I don’t know. I doubt I would have realized I was an extrovert, but maybe I would have seen that I was an N rather than an S like I did when…

When I went to public high school–after being home schooled prior to that–they had all the students take a MBTI test (which was horribly built, but I won’t go into that), and I came out as INTJ. I knew I was an ISTP (Ha!). I definitely wasn’t an INTJ (Heh). Then my mom suggested I retake the test at home with one of the tests I trusted. What do you know, I came out as INTP. After looking at various descriptions of the INTJ and INTP and ISTP (LETTERS!!), I decided that I actually was an INTP, so the school test wasn’t all wrong.

At no point had I questioned my introversion. I didn’t like talking to people. I didn’t like going out with friends. I didn’t like being the center of attention. Of course, you know there’s a “but” coming.

But then I went to college. I made several friends in the dorm I was in–sorry, “residential hall”–and in the InterVarsity chapter (as I’ve discussed before). I still didn’t like being the center of attention, and I definitely tended to be the quietest person in the room when there more than my two roommates around. Even when it was just us three I was quiet unless the INFJ was talking to me–I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I love INFJs before, so there you go. They’re awesome.

So I’m an introvert wrong? Since you’re smart enough to remember the beginning of this post, you know the answer is no. See, all the MBTI tests I’ve taken say I’m an introvert. How I act says I’m an introvert. So let’s tear those two points apart.

First is the MBTI tests. Early on this Summer, while I still thought I was an INTP, I was texting with my brother about MBTI and we mentioned–I don’t remember which one of us brought it up–how the MBTI tests seemed to be testing shyness vs. outgoingness rather than introversion vs. extroversion. The difference being that shyness vs. outgoingness is a measure of fear in social interactions, while introversion and extroversion are, simply, where you get your energy, either by being alone or by being with others respectively.

Of course, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t an introvert, just because the tests tend to test the wrong thing. So then we turn to how I act. While at college, I didn’t talk a lot, especially in larger groups of people (and we’re talking more than four or five people; it didn’t take much). However, I still enjoyed being around them, even if I was only listening.

Then there’s the matter of text vs. speech. Text is a lot easier for me, to the point that, in a private group chat with friends, such as a Facebook group for my D&D group, I am at least 90% more likely than anyone else to be the one that initiates something. In the case of the D&D group, I’d be the one asking about the next meeting or posting random things I thought they would appreciate. In texting my (majority INFJ) friends, I’m almost always the one that initiates it.

I’m not an introvert. I’m a shy extrovert.

Well. I was.

See, when I finally figured out I was an ENTP in the middle of August, I started noticing some changes in my behavior. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if not, I take karate lessons while I’m home from college. Continuing my trend from above, I wasn’t particularly outspoken (understatement of the century). Then, after I decided I was an ENTP, I noticed myself talking more. When I would usually keep my mouth shut because of what I suppose was anxiety, I spoke freely. When I would usually not be the first person to say anything, I was speaking up.

It was very disconcerting. I hadn’t done anything to make this change except change what I was calling myself. Where I had expected I would need to work hard to act myself–a.k.a. extroverted–when I went to college, I was now doing it naturally; accidentally.

This coming year will be interesting. I’ve really only had opportunity to test my extroversion at karate, which is only for an hour at a time. It will be interesting how I do in a setting that is much more often catering to extroversion. Hopefully it will help me get out of this state of blah I’m in that I attribute to lack of peopling (which, surprisingly, is a word, but sadly, does not mean what I want it to mean).

Toodles. (No. Don’t let me ever say that again. Again. I’m pretty sure I’ve already told you that. Which means you failed. Because I just said it. Again. Which I told you not to let me do. I think. You might be in big trouble. Not that I’m going to check.)

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3 thoughts on “I’m an Extrovert”

  1. 1. I don’t think I was the one who discovered the MBTI. Aimee may have.

    2. You are right that I would use lesser language. It may even be a derived distaste–from a distaste for psychoanalytic theories in general (or, in my more sympathetic moments, pop-psychoanalytic theories).

    3. I don’t think we saw it as measuring social anxiety–I believe I used the phrase “felt need for social stimulus” which is different from measuring anxiety in the face of it. It is the difference between hunger (felt need for food) and anxiety in the face of food (from fear of food as fattening)–one may be hungry, yet fear food. Likewise, one may have social anxiety while feeling an intense need for social interaction. Granted, it would be a catch-22. Nevertheless, you may well be right to categorize yourself as shy (under social anxiety), and the reclassification of yourself as “extraverted” may have a therapeutic effect (in that we live into narratives about who we are).

    4. It is not clear to me that E/I is the term you’re flipped on. It may be T/F. E/I is supposed to be direction of interest–toward subjective objects/values versus toward objective objects/values. T/F is supposed to be about orientation towards objects versus values. It is not clear to me that either distinction clearly maps to any form of desire for interaction, but I’ve only read the one chapter of Jung.

    On E/I from Jung “The relation between subject and object, considered biologically, is always a relation of adaptation, since every relation between subject and object presupposes mutually modifying effects from either side. These modifications constitute the adaptation. The typical attitudes to the object, therefore, are adaptation processes. Nature knows two fundamentally different ways of adaptation, which determine the further existence of the living organism the one is by increased fertility, accompanied by a relatively small degree of defensive power and individual conservation; the other is by individual equipment of manifold means of self-protection, coupled with a relatively insignificant fertility. This biological contrast seems not merely to be the analogue, but also the general foundation of our two psychological modes of adaptation, At this point a mere general indication must suffice; on the one hand, I need only point to the peculiarity of the extravert, which constantly urges him to spend and propagate himself in every way, and, on the other, to the tendency of the introvert to defend himself against external claims, to conserve himself from any expenditure of energy directly related to the object, thus consolidating for himself the most secure and impregnable position.” (http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Jung/types.htm) Is that about peopling? Interestingly, Hegel argued for this natural difference between those who consume and those who create as a defense for his low output–but I am less suspicious of it coming from Jung. (The defensive/expending distinction would more accurately track the biological difference noted across species in favor of HSPs–so either I/E and HSP/non-HSP collapse into one, or else Jung is not talking about what we now mean by I/E).

    5. I’ve heard that it is common for INTPs to desire to be heard by a wider audience, thus leading some to become more popular philosophers, for instance (I think I’ve heard this was the case with Dan Dennet? But don’t quote me on that).

    6. If we look at desire for active engagement with people and tendency to talk (or even monologue), I can come across as an extravert (ask the gadflies).

    1. 1. It makes little difference, I would think.

      2. Hyperbole to affect.

      3. Very well. However, “felt need for social stimulus” still falls under the measurement of behavior rather than cognitive process in my eyes. The simple explanation of I/E has always been lacking. More on that below.

      4. Tried to keep it simple in the post, so I didn’t go into the cognitive functions, but here we go. Myers and Briggs simplified Jungian theory in order to make it more accessible for the public. I doubt the modern interpretation of cognitive functions is exactly what Jung came up with, but it’s what I’m used to, so it’s what I will be describing. There are eight cognitive functions, made up of S, N, T, and F and either e or i. For example, Ne or Fi. The S, N, T, and F are basically the same as they are in MBTI, and the e or i say in what direction they are focused, either objective (e; outward) or subjective (i; inward). (I know you know these things, Ben, but in case someone who doesn’t wants to read this). According to Jungian theory, each person has conscious access to four functions–one for each capital letter–and the other four are in the unconscious. These functions are ordered, not according to strength, necessarily, though I’m having trouble coming up with a way to describe it. The function in the first position is the one that is most naturally influential in a person’s life. The function in the second position is sort of the backup. The third position, by default, is neither good nor bad, but can sometimes result in a negative feedback loop between it and the first position. Finally, the fourth position is the one that you consciously and distinctly have trouble using.

      In the case of an INTP, the ordering is Ti, Ne, Si, Fe. INFP would be Fi, Ne, Si, Te. ENTP is Ne, Ti, Fe, Si.

      Let’s first look at why INTP is wrong for me. We’ll start with the negative loop that results from Ti/Si. As I’m not familiar with it, let’s call in an expert (read, “someone else”): “Given enough negative reinforcement, as TiSi loop sets in, the INTP may even develop a habit of avoiding the very situations and mindsets that his personal growth requires most in order to move forward. Utterly convinced that the deck is stacked unfairly against him, he may devolve into bitter cynicism about the coldly inconsistent nature of the harsh, stupid, and illogical universe around him. Sensitive about his failures in the social arena, especially, he may convince himself that the only people worth interacting with are those who feel ‘safe’ in that they espouse the same kinds of views with which he is already familiar: locked into a self-serving loop of subjective logic and subjective reinforcement of the kind of experiential data that supports it, he may simply resign himself to the fate of being alone and unappreciated, comforting himself with grandiose and romantic ideals of being ‘the only one with any real integrity’ or ‘the only one who really cares about The Truth.’ ” (Found on http://personalitycafe.com/intp-forum-thinkers/68076-ti-si-loops.html) I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this very strongly; certainly not more than the ENTP loop that I’ll discuss later.

      Second on INTP is that the ordering doesn’t fit me. Ti before Ne would mean that Ne would be feeding Ti lots of ideas, and then Ti would filter them out and would eventually put one or two of them out into the world, where as Ne before Ti has many many ideas being formed, checked with Ti quickly, and then releasing many of the ideas. Finally, Fe is in the fourth position. If that were the case, I would have much greater difficulty with my emotions than I do.

      On to INFP, their ordering being Fi, Ne, Si, Te. Here the problem is the direction of Fi and Te, primarily Fi, as well as the position of Te. Fi would be an inward emotional richness, rather than with the Fe of XNTP, where the emotions are outward, looking to how other people feel in order to make decisions. Te would be directed outward, into rationalizing and ordering the outside world, whereas Ti is directed inward, rationalizing and ordering the inner world. My categories are a way not of ordering the outside world, but a way of ordering my feelings on the outside world. Then we have the problem of Te’s fourth position. That would mean that I have much more difficulty with rational thought than I do, and I think you would agree that that isn’t true. Finally, we might as well cover the Fi/Si loop. This loop causes INFPs to obsess over past events, trying to process them with Fi, fails, and then goes back into the memories and repeats the process. That’s not me. I’ll tell you what’s me soon.

      So now we come to ENTP, ordered as Ne, Ti, Fe, Si. As I said above, Ne before Ti fits me better than the alternative. Also, with Fe in the third position, it neither causes problems, nor is it often the deciding factor in things (usually). Si is now in the fourth position, and this makes sense. After all, the thing I have the hardest time writing is the sensory things. What does a room look like? What sounds and smells are there? My Ne can tell me exactly what feeling I would get from the room, but I have great difficulty breaking that down into the senses. The loop is Ne/Fe. Unlike the above loops which are inwardly focused, an ENTP’s loop is focused outward. Someone in a Ne/Fe loop places more value on external validation than their own judgement, something Ti would handle in a healthy ENTP. When the big resulting symptoms of this loop is–drum roll–social anxiety.

      So that’s why I’m an ENTP.

      5. That may be true. Good for them?

      6. Indeed. You may well be an extrovert, or maybe your second function is being brought out by certain situations more often. Who knows. You would have to look at the functions, though, as I was too busy being annoyed with said monologues when you lived at home to pay much attention to what MBTI type you were, plus you’ve since grown. Technically Introvert vs. Extrovert isn’t about where you get your energy, it just tends to manifest as such, thus why it is described that way, so don’t hold too strongly to that.

  2. “Myers and Briggs simplified Jungian theory in order to make it more accessible for the public. I doubt the modern interpretation of cognitive functions is exactly what Jung came up with, but it’s what I’m used to, so it’s what I will be describing.” This may just be my love of complexity, but this sounds problematic. If Jung was right, then a simplification of his theory should fail to accommodate a variety phenomena. A simplification for the sake of sucking people in is fine–one teaches act-utilitarianism before rule-utilitarianism for a reason. As we zoom in on a categorization system, if the system is trying to be true to life, then we should find a variety of complex factors being discussed (Perhaps there are?).

    “There are eight cognitive functions, made up of S, N, T, and F and either e or i. For example, Ne or Fi. The S, N, T, and F are basically the same as they are in MBTI, and the e or i say in what direction they are focused, either objective (e; outward) or subjective (i; inward).” What are S, N, T, and F? Particularly if we can’t go to Jung for the definitions (which undermines the point in favor of the type-function system of being based in Jung’s work, though to what extent depends on how much it is different).

    We can get a connection between Jungian F and emotionalness if we take emotions to be something like concern-based construals of the world, but then the direction of primary concern is modified by e/i. In that case, Fe would be emotionality affected by externals (someone got hurt), whereas Fi would be emotionality affected by inwards (my way of interacting with the world is at risk). I suppose Fi would fit me better than Fe on that distinction. At any rate, I’m not sure we can get to “emotional richness” from there (nor what we would have to get to to have gotten to “emotional richness”–the lack of precise language bothers me, too–how concrete-wanting of me).

    I have only the slightest clue what N/S is supposed to be–Jung’s seems to be something like metaphorical/concrete ways of seeing things. Beats me where I should be located on that spectrum (I tend to test N, but it’s been awhile).

    I’m suspicious of most of the distinctions central to MBTI–inward/outward, concrete/abstract, values/objects, perceptive/active (granted, this last you haven’t cited). Granted, people can clump in ways ungrounded by how things actually are. I am also suspicious of categorization schemes presented without argument. That one can locate anyone in a categorization scheme means pretty much nothing about its validity. I think I have mentioned that this is the source of my dissatisfaction with MBTI and other categorization systems. I need to understand why it works, not just see that it can be applied productively.

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