World Introvert Day: Introversion In-depth

Posted 28 December 2023 by
Melissa Summer, The Myers-Briggs Company

1 minute read

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Introverts: they’re socially awkward, they’re loners, they’re shy, and they definitely despise any type of socializing. And if you’ve done your homework (or if you’ve studied personality psychology at all), you know these harmful stereotypes are far from the truth. 

“There are a lot of misconceptions about what Introversion and Extraversion are – the idea that Introverts always spend their time quietly in the corner. But it's not about social confidence. It's about where we get our energy from. People who prefer Introversion get their energy from an inner world of thoughts and feelings, and that's where they focus their attention." 

In this episode of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast and in honor of World Introvert Day, we’re joined by John Hackston, chartered psychologist, and Head of Thought Leadership for The Myers-Briggs Company

Scroll down for episode transcript

Full of tips, interesting statistics and personality-related insights, John’s 30+ years experience with MBTI type and psychology makes this episode a must-listen for anyone who has introverted preferences, think they might be an Introvert, or interacts with anyone with an Introversion preference, or just wants to understand their fellow human beings better. For example, John shares this analogy of one way to think about these personality differences:

“Here’s an analogy we sometimes use to talk about Extraversion and Introversion: imagine, if you will, two toy robots. There's an Extravert robot. The Extravert robot has got a solar panel in its head. It's powered by the sunshine. It's powered by its connection with the outside world. The Introvert robot gets its energy  from plugging itself in quietly in the corner. 

And if you imagine these two robots, after sitting in a toy cupboard, they're both quite happy to get out of that toy cupboard. The Extravert robot because it wants to get out there and interact with the world. The Introvert robot because it's had the time to fully charge its batteries. And then the doors open the child takes out the robot and initially you might not see any difference at all in their behavior because they're both charged. 

But over time, the Introvert robot starts to look back longingly toward that toy cupboard so it can go back in and recharge its batteries.

When the toys get put back in the cupboard, they both heave a sigh. For the Introvert robot it's a little bit of a sigh of relief. Ah, he can go and spend some time recharging his batteries so he's got the energy to interact when it comes to the afternoon session. For the Extravert robot the sigh is a little bit more like an “ehh” because it actually wants to be out there recharging his batteries. So it's all about energy. It's all about where we focus our attention.”

In this episode, John dives into some of the most common questions when it comes to Introversion and personality psychology.

Listen to this episode to learn:

Listen to the full episode at Or listen to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. 


Listen and subscribe on:

Listen on Apple
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google
Listen on Audible
Listen on Amazon

Posted in


Intro: Welcome to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, where we bring together thought leaders, psychologists, and personality experts from around the world to talk about work life, home life, and how to get the best from life.


Melissa Summer (MS): In this episode of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, we are talking all things Introversion for World Introvert Day – which if you don't already celebrate it, falls on January 2nd every year. Chartered psychologist and fellow Introvert John Hackston, joins us to talk about how not all those with Introversion preferences are the same, how one Introvert can look different from another, and more.

We'll also cover more about ambiversion, about the Extraversion—Introversion facets from the MBTI Step Two assessment, and how everyone has an Introverted side to themselves – even if they prefer Extraversion. John Hackston is the Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company. He's a chartered psychologist with over 30 years of experience helping clients to use psychometric assessments and questionnaires in a wide range of contexts – including selection, leadership development, performance management, and team building.

His experience takes in roles in management, consultancy, training, and in research. John is passionate about objective assessment and believes that the ethical and focused use of personality assessments can be a real force for good in the workplace. In his current role, he carries out research to bring personality – and in particular, the MBTI framework – to life, helping executives, managers, practitioners, and end users like yourselves apply the insights they gain both inside and outside of the workplace. So, welcome, John.

JH: Thank you for having me.

MS: It’s great to have you. I'm excited to talk today about all things Introversion and Extraversion, but especially Introversion because World Introvert Day is every year on January 2nd. And there are a lot of Introverts in this world.

Joh Hackston (JH): There are. Slightly more than half.

MS: More than half. Let's go with the first most basic question: what is Introversion and Extraversion?

JH: There are a lot of misconceptions about what Introversion and Extraversion are – the idea that Extraverts spend their time dancing on tables; Introverts spend their time really quietly in the corner. But Introversion and Extraversion aren’t about social confidence. What it's about is about where we get our energy from and where we focus our attention. People with a personality preference for Extraversion get their energy from the outside world of people and things as well, and interaction with that world. And that's where they focus their attention.

People who prefer Introversion get their energy from an inner world of thoughts and feelings, and that's where they focus their attention. And as an analogy we sometimes use to talk about this: imagine, if you will, two toy robots. There's an Extravert robot. The Extravert robot has got a solar panel in its head. It's powered by the sunshine. It's powered by its connection with the outside world. The Introvert robot gets its energy drained, plugging itself in quietly in the corner.

And if you imagine these two robots, after sitting in a toy cupboard, they're both quite happy to get out of that toy cupboard. The Extravert robot because it wants to get out there and interact with the world. The Introvert robot because it's had the time to fully charge its batteries. And then the doors open the child takes out the robot and initially you might not see any difference at all in their behavior because they're both charged. But over time, the Introvert robot starts to look back longingly toward that toy cupboard so it can go back in and recharge its batteries.

When the toys get put back in the cupboard, they both heave a sigh. For the Introvert robot it's a little bit of a sigh of relief. Ah, he can go and spend some time recharging his batteries so he's got the energy to interact when it comes to the afternoon session. For the Extravert robot the sigh is a little bit more like an “ehh” because it actually wants to be out there recharging his batteries. So it's all about energy. It's all about where we focus our attention.

MS: So for these robots . . . it's not that one of them is necessarily a lot more social than the other. Because I feel like a lot of what I hear as far as the stereotypes are, ‘Oh, Introverts aren't friendly or they can't socialize.’

JH: Absolutely. Introverts can be very sociable. They can be very friendly. And you may not initially see the difference between the Introvert and Extravert robots. Suppose you're at a party. You might find that the Introverted person – not robot this time, the Introverted person – they might be doing things, they're interacting with people. Often people with an Introversion preference at an event like that really like if they have a role which really allows them to be socially competent.

They interact with people but as the evening goes on, you might suddenly find that those people are missing. Maybe they're just outside taking a break, recharging their batteries, then back in they come. And they can be as sociable as before, so it's not about social confidence. It's about energy. It's about how we recharge our batteries. It's about where we focus our attention. It's about the way that we talk about things.

Maybe for example you have two people – one an Introvert, one an Extravert – go to get lunch in a sandwich shop. They both walk into the shop, the Extravert looks at what's on offer and says, ‘Oh, what should I have today? I normally have ham and cheese, but I quite like a change occasionally. What's very special today? Pastrami banana, pastrami banana. That's a bit weird. I don't think I have pastrami banana, but don't fancy ham and cheese. I know. I'll have that chicken sandwich they brought in yesterday. That sounds good.’

What the Introvert person says is, ‘I'll have the chicken sandwich.’ Now the same processing is going on for both people. With the Introvert, that processing is going on inside their head.

MS: Okay, so same process. Probably similar conversations or amount of words. It's just the person who prefers Introversion, all that dialogue is kind of internal.

JH: Absolutely. The same dialogue, but internal. So in terms of what you hear, yes the Introvert will have more words [than they voice]. In terms of a process, the thinking and the subtotal of that, it's going to be the same. But for the Introvert, much more of that is going on inside.

MS: Interesting. So John, what are your MBTI preferences, if you don't mind my asking?

JH: My immediate preferences are for INTP. That's Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. So I'm definitely somebody with Introversion preferences. Although as you can see, I can actually talk to people. Isn't that amazing?

MS: And you also present at conferences and at the- is it at The British Psychological Society you've presented before?

JH: I present at conferences. I do, yeah, absolutely. Conferences, training programs – very happy presenting to people, quite socially confident in that way. But when it's all over, maybe I'll just go off and do something quietly by myself.

MS: I also have preferences for Introversion. So we are the two Introverts leading the World Introvert Day podcast appropriately. My preferences are INFJ. So similar in the Introversion and the Intuition. But then I have preferences for Feeling and Judging.

JH: Yeah, that seems right. And maybe as we talk, we'll get on to how those other letters reflect [and are] actually related to those Introversion, Extraversion pieces.

MS: Another question that I know comes up a ton is the question around ambiversion or someone who's an ambivert, like someone who feels like they're not an Introvert or an Extravert. Or maybe they have the wrong understanding of what an Introvert is. They say like, ‘Well, I like having my quiet time to recharge, but I also like to be social and I like to hang out with people. So obviously I can't be an Introvert.’ So where does ambivert fall? What is that?

JH: In a sense, we're all ambiverts. All of us have an Introvert side of our personality. All of us have an Extravert side of our personality. And one of the things the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] helped me with personally when I learned about it – and helps many people with – is understanding how those different bits of us work.

Now for myself, I mentioned before my whole type was INTP. If you look at how that works, that means that the thing I really like to do inside my head is something called Introverted Thinking. Left to my own devices, I spend a lot of my time just quietly thinking things through and especially making decisions inside my head. So, in here, inside my skull, is where I think, ‘Yeah, let's do that.’

Whereas someone with Extraverted Thinking, you'd hear them say that. Now for me, I've made that decision inside my head and that does sometimes annoy my partner because I'll say, ‘We're doing this’ and she'll say, ‘Hang on, we didn't talk about that.’ And I realize I've decided it inside my head without any reference for anybody. Now one of the things that type has helped me with is actually understanding how that works.

But I do have an Extravert side. If you look at the way the MBTI works, one of the letters in my type formula is N for Intuition. I tend to do that externally; I tend to do that with people. I really like brainstorming, for example. I really like those sorts of discussions and ideas and possibilities. And I find it easier to do that when I'm with people or when I'm connecting with the world.

When I learned about type, something made sense for me when I thought back to my school days. So when I was doing something like physics homework or math homework, where I had to work things out – I can see you didn't. That struck a chord with you, Melissa, because your face is contorting as I said math. And even though I'm British, I remember to say math, not maths. But anyway, when I was doing that sort of homework . . .

MS: Physics was not my favorite subject, no.

JH: What I found I was doing was I would just sit there quietly with my book to write and work things out. Because that's using the stuff I do inside my head, but making decisions in a logical way – Introverted Thinking.

But when I had to do creative writing, I found I couldn't sit still. I had to get up and walk around, maybe go and talk to somebody. I’d get on my feet, walk around, have ideas. And I still do this now. If I'm trying to work out something new or different to say, even if I'm not with people, I have to get up and walk up and down the corridor, just to have some connection with the outside world.

And I realize now, that's just because that part of my personality – The Intuition, the ideas, the possibilities – for me is Extraverted. I do that in the outside world better. So even though I'm an Introvert, when I need to do anything creative, it's good for me to connect with the world. Whereas when I make logical decisions, I'm very happy to sit there and do things by myself. I'm an Introvert, I have an Introversion preference.

Given the chance, I'll spend much more time doing that logical stuff than the creative stuff. But I still have that side to me. And for me, that part of me is Extraverted. And that's a slightly long-winded way of saying, actually, in one sense, we're all ambiverts, and in the other sense, there's no such thing as an ambivert, because we all have our preference for Introversion or Extraversion, and that means we tend to do some things in an Extraverted way, and some things in an Introverted way depending on the other parts of our MBTI type.

MS: Yeah, I know for people with the same preference as I have – INFJ – a lot of times I have been mistaken for someone who prefers Extraversion because people say, ‘Oh, you relate to people so well, you're so friendly and bubbly and you seem so social.’ I am all of those things, but that's because for my type, INFJ, the F – the Feeling preference – is what I Extravert.

And the Feeling preference is all about making decisions based on people and values, so that's my Extravert. The part that I Introvert is my Introverted Intuition, which makes me think that you and I could probably have some really fun discussions because you would be Extraverting your Intuition and I'm Introverting my Intuition. So this podcast is great because I'm asking the questions and you're the one explaining them.

JH: Exactly. I know you're absolutely right with your type preferences. What people see is the Feeling side. They see that connection with people. They see that need for harmony. What they don't see is, and I'm guessing here, but hopefully this works for you, the whirling mass of possibilities and ideas whirling around inside your head.

And often people with your type of preferences – with an Introverted Intuition – often say it's a pity they didn't have a bigger mouth because there's all these ideas and possibilities and only a small hole to let them out.

MS: Oh, that's funny. I hadn't heard that one before. Well, do you mind if we go through the other six Introverted types and talk real quick about what they Introvert and what they Extravert? I think that'd be fantastic. So I know you said preferences for INTP. We covered that already. What about INTJ?

JH: Absolutely. INTJs, although they’re only one letter different for me, they may behave quite differently. So whereas I'm trying to make sense of the world inside my head in a logical way and make decisions, they want to organize the external world. What you'll hear is, ‘Let's do this, let's talk this through, let's get this sorted in a logical way.’ What's going on inside their heads is very much the same as would work for you, Melissa. All those ideas and possibilities.

And sometimes people with that type and your type are people all this stuff running around inside their head and people don't realize it's there. And sometimes because it takes time to process that it doesn't pop out into the world until later. So all ideas and possibilities are inside the head, but what people see is the logical, ‘let's get this sorted; let's get this done’ behavior.

MS: Okay, so that's what people see. That Thinking preference is also what's Extraverted for INTJ.

JH: That's what's Extraverted and what's Introverted for INTJs are the ideas and possibilities.

MS: I see. What about people who prefer INFP? What part do they Introvert and Extravert?

JH: What those people Introvert – which is their favorite process, their dominant preference – is Introverted Feeling. So those people typically have a real core of values that are really important to them. My partner actually, she has preferences for INFP. There are some things that are really deeply important to her, some really core values. People don't necessarily see that because again, they see the ideas, the possibilities. And unlike someone like yourself who has Extraverted Feeling, people don't necessarily realize that Feeling side of things is important to her, unless they're really close to her, unless they're part of a really close circle of friends.

MS: Interesting. We covered INFJ, INTP, INTJ, and INFP. And we're leaving out all of the Sensing preference Introverts. We started with our own. So that's our own bias showing for our personality preference.

JH: Given that we have Intuition preferences, it may well be.

MS: Or just conversation wise. What about ISFJ, someone who prefers Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging?

JH: On the surface, someone with ISFJ preferences will be very similar to you Melissa, with your INFJ preference. Because what people are seeing is an Extraverted Feeling. They're seeing that need for people to live in harmony and so on. But that's driven by something very different.

For you that's driven by ideas and possibilities. For them it’s driven by Introverted Sensing, which is about the importance of their past memories. People who Introvert Sensing will have a real typical core of memories and experiences from their lives that they've stored away. And sometimes those people will even say that things are more real when I go into my memory store, than when I'm actually living things at the time.

And if you look at ISTJs, those people will have the Extraverted Thinking. Along the face of it, they look very similar to the INTJ people. But again, that need for order in the world, that need to make things happen, to have things organized, is driven by really clear memories of what's happened in the past.

ISTJ people are really useful to people to have around in organizations because they remember all the things that have happened in the past. They remember what worked and what didn't work, but because of that they're not always listened to because people say, ‘Oh it'll work.’ ISTJs are saying, ‘Well we did exactly the same thing two years ago and this is what happened,’ but they're not always listened to, which is annoying for those people because they do have that really clear hold on the past so those memories, those possibilities for ISFJs are usually about people and their feelings. For ISTJ, it's more about facts and things that have happened.

MS: Interesting. And you were saying the people in the organization – so the I, S, blank, J – that Introverted Sensing that remembers those things that happened in the past though, that's all being remembered internally. So that conversation of, ‘Oh, we tried this two years ago and it didn't work for these reasons’ is happening inside the head. And then they have to have to then verbalize, which I know isn’t always listened to.

JH: Yes. But we have to put it out into the world.

MS: For me, sometimes it's really difficult to take what I'm thinking, like this whole thought process, and then try and put it into words. It’s not always easy for those with Introversion.

JH: It's not always easy and people don't realize how clear and how detailed and how accurate those memories are.

MS: What about people who prefer ISFP and ISTP?

JH: ISFP and ISTP. What you will see on the outside is what's called Extraverted Sensing. And people were preferences for Extraverted Sensing-

MS: Okay, so that's this name. The last one we talked about Introverted Sensing. So this is taking that same Sensing preference, but instead, the ISFP and ISTP are Extraverting that Sensing preference. Huh.

JH: Exactly, exactly. And that's using that Sensing preference in the world. What that means is those people are typically very much living in the present. It's for here and now. It's the excitement of being here and now. Sometimes those people even get into things like slightly dangerous hobbies or slightly different sports. They're a little bit more likely [as children] to stick their fingers in their electric sockets to see what would happen. Like it or experience the world. But obviously what's important to those people is the other letter. The other thing is the Introverted. So ISFP is that core of values like INFPs where that's really central to who they are. And ISTP, what's important for those like myself really, is Thinking. But again, what you see in their behavior on the surface is Extraverted Sensing, that connection with the real world. Less about the past, more about the now.

MS: This is really interesting because all of these types are Introverts. They all prefer Introversion, but from what you're saying, there are a lot of differences between all the Introverts.

JH: Oh yeah, absolutely. They have this thing in common that the way they like to spend time is inside their head given the chance. We have these general differences about liking to think things through rather than talk things through To think things through before they get to action rather than jumping straight into action. Maybe to have a smaller number of hobbies or pastimes they get into really deeply, rather than Extraverts who tend to have a large number of hobbies that they pick up. There are things in common, but there's a lot of differences as well

MS: Yeah, I feel like this is making me think of that Twitter quote that I found, the tweet from Denzel Washington, the actor.

JH: Oh yes, that’s right. And I've desperately tried to remember exactly what those words were. Let me just see if I could dig it out.

MS: I remember it being something around him saying- because occasionally when I see things around Introversion, Extraversion, or personality type, I always flag them because there are a lot of people who will try and type celebrities and say, ‘Oh, I think they have this personality type.’ But I know there was one specific tweet that he said something about, ‘Oh, I'm an Extraverted Introvert.

JH: Yes. I've just dug it out, I found it. So he said, ‘I'm both an Introvert and Extravert. I love people, but I need to be alone. I'll go out to meet people, but it has an expiration because I have to recharge. If I don't find the valuable alone time I need to recharge, I cannot be my highest self.’

Now, I'm not going to try and guess Denzel's type because at the very least, that's a little impolite and the thing that we shouldn't do really. But there's obviously a lot of Introversion behavior there. As I said, lots of people who have Introversion preferences can function in the world, can do this stuff about being with people in the world, but after some time need to go away and recharge their batteries. And even some Extraverts can't be on all the time, but they can probably be on longer and with more people and with more stuff happening than Introverts can.

MS: Just from that description, I mean, even hearing you read that again, it was longer than I remember. But also from what you've said, everyone Introverts and Extraverts part of their personality. But behavior wise, if that sort of socialization is draining for you after a while versus energizing – he probably has a preference for Introversion.

JH: Yeah.

MS: But really, that statement has a better understanding of Introversion than the general public because he's saying, ‘Yeah, I am an Introvert and an Extravert.’ And I think there was a Carl Jung quote too, similar to that, right?

JH: Yes, yeah, I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of ‘There's no such thing as a pure Introvert or pure Extravert Because that person would go mad.’ And I think critics of the MBTI, or the type approach more generally, often will take this out and say, ‘Oh look, Carl Jung even said there's no such thing as an Extravert.’ And that misunderstands entirely what Jung was saying. What Jung was saying is that we have both an Introverted side, an Extraverted side. For some of us with an Introversion preference, that Introversion side is in charge. For some of us with an Extraversion preference, that Extraverted side is in charge. But we all have both sides.

MS: What is the rarest- most rare Introverted type and what is the most common Introverted type?

JH: Now I knew the most common, but I knew you were going to ask this question, so I looked up the actual stats. The rarest one is INFJ.

MS: Ah, okay. And as far as I know, it's different for males and females too, right?

JH: I didn't look up those stats, I just looked at them separately. But there will be more women with an INFJ preference than men, certainly. It may not be the rarest type amongst women. Amongst the population as a whole, it's the rarest type. It says on my little notes I've made here, 2.3 percent of the population as a whole, 4 percent of Introverts. The second most common, or second rarest rather, is INTJ – with 2.6 percent of the population and 4.6 percent of Introverts.

MS: So this is what I think the last time I looked it up was, because I can't remember if it was World Introvert Day last year or the year before, but I remembered because one of them is my type. When you split it by gender, INFJ is – even though it's the most rare overall – if you split it by gender, INFJ is the most rare among males and INTJ is actually the most rare among females.

JH: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. We know that more men tend to have a Thinking preference and more women tend to have a Feeling preference. Not 100 percent either way, depending on which territory, which country you go to, but this finding seems to be pretty much recognized across every part of the world that the MBTI has been used in. It's around about two-thirds or 70 percent men with a Thinking preference. Two thirds or 70 percent women with a Feeling preference. But that does mean obviously there is a sizable and important minority of Feeling men and Thinking women.

MS: Interesting. What about the most common Introverted type?

JH: Most common, I guessed what it would be on basis of previous information and it was ISTJ. 16 percent of the population, 28 percent of Introverts. So there are a lot of people with ISTJ preferences in the world as a whole. And I didn’t look up the separate gendered data.

MS: ISTJ. Yeah, I didn't look up the gender data for the most common, but you said 28 percent. So of people who prefer Introversion, almost a third are ISTJ.

JH: Yeah, over a quarter are ISTJ. That finding I based out of the latest global statistics, but the same pretty much holds true across the world. It's the most common type.

MS: Wow, interesting!

JH: And generally, that's partly because there are many more people with a Sensing preference in the world, but there are more people with an Intuition preference – again, depending on the territory. It's about 75 percent Sensing.

MS: Really? I didn't realize it was that high. That's a lot of people who prefer Sensing.

JH: Yeah it's between two-thirds and 70-something percent, depending exactly where in the world you're looking.

MS: Oh, fascinating. So given all of these differences, what do you think about relationships between people who prefer Extraversion and people who prefer Introversion? I know we talked a little bit about what people Introvert and Extravert, and you gave your own example personally of how that works, but do people who prefer Introversion, are they better in relationships together if you have two Introverts or two Extraverts? Or is it kind of the opposites attract sort of thing?

JH: The data suggests that opposites attract, but similarity tends to have a longer shelf life as a general rule of thumb. Having said that, I think one of the key things is understanding. Once you understand your own personality type and you understand that of your partner, then you can see where the holes are. You can see where there may be the source, the possibility of misunderstandings, and you can account for those.

Even more importantly, you can see where the gaps are. That means that's where you complement each other as well. And if you can see that you're not doing things in a certain way or your partner’s not doing things a certain way just to annoy you, you can see where it's come from. You can actually compensate for that. So yeah, Extraverts and Introverts can get along well as long as they're aware of the pros and cons – of likely pros and cons – of that relationship, of those types.

And people use the MBTI in relationship counseling. There was a bit of research quite a few years ago now, which is reported in the MBTI module. It is something called the obliviousness index . . .

MS: Say that again . . . the oblivious?

JH: The obliviousness index is how oblivious you are – how unnoticing you are – of your partner's needs. And anybody who has the MBTI manual can look that up. I can't remember the exact stats, but I remember that as a group, as a whole, with hopefully lots of individual exceptions, male INTPs had the highest score on the obliviousness index.

MS: Oh dear.

JH: They were less likely to be aware of their partner's needs. Hopefully though, my type and her type has helped me overcome some of that just a little bit.

MS: So the top recommendation from the podcast is all male INTPs should, if they don't already know their MBTI type, should go find out and then find out the types of their partner.

JH: And just be a little bit more aware that there are other people in the world who may just possibly be coming from a different viewpoint. And that's not bad. That's okay. In fact, it can be quite nice.


MS: Just understanding MBTI type has helped me with a ton in understanding other people and understanding that this person's not behaving this way or pointing out these things because they're trying to be combative or because they don't agree – even though sometimes they don't agree. But it's really just a different perspective. People think differently.

JH: Absolutely. And that can be really useful as long as you don't immediately think, ‘Oh, that's wrong.’ I wonder if they talk about it, but that could be really useful. And that's where things like the MBTI are useful because they let you start to see where you may work well with that person, where you might work less well, and so on, given your particular two types.

MS: So if you could help everyone in the world understand one thing about Introversion for World Introvert Day, what would that be?

JH: Really the thing we said right at the top of this discussion, which is that it's not about shyness. It's not about social confidence. It's about where you direct your attention to, where you get your energy from. And that might mean, for example, if you'd ask an Introvert a question, what they may say is, ‘Now here's the answer’ with that pause in there. Whereas you've asked an excellent question, what you might not hear is, ‘Oh, well, let me have a think about this answer.’

And the danger that some people with an Extraversion preference fall into is they don't get an answer straight away and they may think, ‘Oh, perhaps I didn't say that clearly enough, I'll say it a bit louder. Or maybe this person isn't that bright.’ But actually the processing is going on inside. There's an analogy we sometimes use about the driver of the car. If you ask an Extravert a question, you're speaking directly to the driver of the car so you get an answer straight back. If you ask an Introvert a question you're speaking to the passenger in the front seat beside the driver. That passenger has to talk to the driver, work out the answer, and relay it back. That just means the person is thinking about it to give you the best answer. They're not immediately talking things through.

MS: I feel like this also has a big part in businesses when you're thinking about or talking about brainstorming. I know for me personally, I love brainstorming by myself. The best thing that a boss could do for me is, if we have a brainstorming meeting, tell me the topic ahead of time. Let me go think about it by myself. And then I'll come back to you with all of these ideas after I've thought about them and picked out which ones I think are best, Or what I've heard that in business, a lot of times we default to the Extraverted way of doing things where we say, ‘Okay, let's get everyone into a meeting and we're gonna brainstorm out loud in the moment.’

JH: And that works not too badly for me because with my Extraverted Intuition, that's a part of myself that I do Extravert.

MS: Oh, because you Extravert thinking.

JH: But the Introverted Thinking – when it comes to making a decision, I'm thinking, ‘Oh, let's not decide this now. Let me think this through first.’ One thing that managers sometimes get wrong is, if it’s in a meeting and they're aware that they need to include everybody – including those Introverts – what they’ll do is turn around to that person and say, ‘What do you think?’ And that person needs a bit of time to think through their answer. Don't expect their answer or don't expect a good answer straight away because that internal processing needs to happen.

MS: So should they just wait for the person to answer?

JH: They could wait. They could say, ‘Let's throw this open everybody. Let's just take a moment to think through what your answer is, would anyone like to contribute?’ And obviously the Extraverts would go in, and then they could bring other people in. Give a little bit of warning about things that will happen.

And also, if someone says, ‘Actually, I was thinking about a thing we talked about 10 minutes ago. Can I just say something now?’ – please do let them because they've had a chance to think things through. And it's not that every Introvert is going to give you a better answer, but at least they've had time to think through what their answer is, and that can be very useful.

MS: That's a great tip. Along the lines of how Introverts may be different from each other, we talked about what people who prefer Introversion, what parts of their personality they Introvert and what parts they Extravert, and how that makes those different. There's also another type of difference between those who prefer- well, I don't know exactly how to get into this part of it . . .

JH: I think you’re probably talking about Step Two.

MS: Yeah, Step Two. MBTI Step Two facets. Can you help me understand the facets, especially for Introversion?

JH: Step Two builds on the idea that no Introverts are the same. If I apply a saying that type people use to myself, it’s that ‘Every INTP is like every other INTP and is different to every other INTP.’ If we look at our personality and how it relates to the way we behave, there's been a lot of research into that using type. The basic statistics say – as a generalization – about half of what we do or say in terms of our personality is essentially genetic, it's our inborn type. And half is about our upbringing, the situation, organizational pressures on us, all those other things.

What the Step Two approach tries to do is to get into that by looking at, if you will, the flavor of your Extraversion or Introversion. And it's a little bit like if I was wearing a suit jacket now, what you would see is that if you look really closely, it was racked up a little bit about the back of my neck because I’ve got quite square shoulders. So I get a suit off the peg, it pretty much fits, but it doesn't fit perfectly.

Your four-letter MBTI type, your Step One type as it's known, is a bit like that. It fits you in most places but it probably doesn't fit quite perfectly. There are places where you are different to other people of your four-letter type. And what Step Two tries to do is to look at that in a bit more detail. So what it does is it looks at the flavor of your Extraversion and Introversion, the flavor of Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, Judging and Perceiving.

If I look at Introversion, for example, it has five facets – five ways in which your behavior may be the same as or different from other people with an Introversion preference. It begins with something called initiating and receiving. Initiating and receiving is really what it says on the tin, what it says on the can. People with an initiating score, are the people who in a group of people, meeting new people for the first time, will go and initiate most conversations. They're generally comfortable introducing themselves to new people, introducing other people to themselves, they'll initiate most conversations.

People with the receiving preference score, they will wait to be introduced typically. They're usually more comfortable with others initiating that contact. They tend to, if they need to meet new people or meet people at an event, go and talk to, at least to begin with, the people they know rather than brand new people They typically don’t particularly enjoy small talk, although they will when they need to.

Now most, but not all, Extraverts have the initiating score. Most, but not all, Introverts have a receiving score. But some Introverts are initiating Introverts. They are similar to Introverts in most ways, but they're actually different in terms of initiating. And that might be from all sorts of places. It might be from upbringing, it might be from where they are in their lives, but they behave in a slightly different way.

The second is called expressive and contained. And the people who are expressive are expressive in their body language. People who are more contained are more contained in their body language.

MS: I'm assuming the expressive side is the one that's on the Extraversion side, generally. And contained is on the Introversion side.

JH: Expressive is on the Extraversion side. We did it for a TV program some years ago – if you put people in a soundproof booth and watch them talk to somebody, you can sort of tell the Extravert a little bit because there's a lot more body language going on. So they tend to be more animated when speaking, but also they'll share what they're thinking and feeling openly to the extent that sometimes people go, ‘Whoa too much information.’

They might find it hard not to show information. So they don't always keep secrets as well as the contained might. As you said, that’s the Extraversion side. On the contained side, most Introverts on that side will share information, but only the stuff they think is relevant to what we're talking about at the time. They have more restrained body language. They tend to be more private, and sometimes they find it quite difficult to really express what they think and feel. So that’s the contained side.

The next one is about how many people you like to be with. It's called gregarious versus intimate. You can probably guess which is the Introvert and which is the Extravert side – and those intimate people, they'll have smaller numbers of long-standing friendships. They'll make a real difference between ‘these are people I know, my acquaintances’ but ‘these people are my friends.’ Whereas people on the gregarious side tend to not make that same distinction so much. [The intimate side is] much more keen on having that intimate relationship than being popular in a group. The gregarious side – the Extravert side – is the opposite of that.

Then we have active or reflective. And this is about the way that we learn things and the way that we retain information. So active – the Extravert side – they tend to learn things best by interacting with other people. If you think of a meeting, they're normally quite engaged and quite participative in a meeting. And in terms of learning, again, they tend to remember what they've heard, less so what they've read. Reflective – the Introvert side – they are likely to think about something before it comes out of their mouth. They’re more likely to observe what's happening in the meeting and learn best by reading about things and maybe writing things down. And if it was just all verbal information, they lose interest. So active versus reflective.

And last but not least, enthusiastic versus quiet. And this is about energy. People who are enthusiastic, you can sometimes see the energy sort of bursting out of them. On the quiet side, these people are often seen as more calm, more laid back. The enthusiastic side may overblow things a little, may exaggerate their own achievements or exaggerate what's happened to the situation. The quiet side may understate things rather.

Enthusiastic people really enjoy being somewhere where there's a buzz. And we saw this with these people really not liking it during lockdowns for Covid, for example, because they couldn't get that contact. Quiet people like a little bit of quiet, they like tranquility, they like quiet places – not to say they can't engage with people or they can't cope with a little bit of a noise and activity. But they really like that tranquil side of things.

So we've got these five facets. Most Introverts will be on the receiving, the contained, the intimate, reflective, the quiet side. But there are differences. That adds to the rich tapestry of who we are. We're not all the same, even though we have the same four-letter type.

MS: I’m thinking back to the Denzel post. By the way, if Denzel Washington is out there and listening to this, you are more than welcome to contact us and we will give you the MBTI assessment and go through your results with you so that you can understand this better. [laughter]

JH: [laughter] And if any of Denzel's friends or acquaintances are listening, please pass the message on.

MS: [laughter] Please pass the message on. We'd love to have you on the podcast. This makes me think back to- so you can have someone who prefers Introversion but, for example, is enthusiastic, right? Which would be on the Extraverted side of the facet, so ‘out of preference’ – how does the phrasing go? You’re an Introvert with out of preference enthusiasm?

JH: I don't know if this is you, Melissa, but we’d call you an enthusiastic Introvert. So you have that difference. And yeah, you're right. We talk about scores being ‘in preference’ or ‘out of preference.’ And it's entirely usual for people to have one or two scores which are out of preference, where they'll typically work in a different way to other Introverts – or to have one or two scores which are what's called mid-zone where actually what they do depends very much on the situation of the people they're with.

MS: I think when we had Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reed on this past season, when we talked about parenting, I remember her saying she prefers Extraversion, but she was either intimate or contained. And that she prefers Extraversion, but she's on the Introversion side for that facet. She was just talking about how that makes her Extraversion preference look different from others who have a preference for Extraversion.

JH: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We're all individuals.

MS: Now I'm trying to think of the math part of it. So we prefer Introversion, but there's eight, for World Introvert Day, right? The big group of Introverts. All of us who prefer Introversion is more than half of the global population.

JH: You're thinking of 50-something percent of the population.

MS: Yeah, but then there's eight different MBTI types of Introversion and then within that, there are five facets that you could be in or out of preference of. And I know that's something about a permutation or a combination and that's as far as my math skills remember, but that's really a lot of different expressions of Introversion.

JH: It's a very big number. You can express your Introversion in all sorts of ways. Remember, even Extraverts will have an Introverted side. So you'll see echoes of some of these behaviors in part of their behavior as well. But just among Introverts, there's, as you say, eight different types of Introverts in terms of all the letters of your type formula.

For each of those, you could be in preference, mid-zone or out of preference. So that's eight times. It's a big number. It involves factorials and things that I can't remember enough math to work out properly. One of my colleagues in research did work out the number a while ago and I can't remember it, but it had too many notes after it to actually write down as a number. You had to put it in the notation instead.

MS: Oh, really? Well, I feel like this also is an invitation then for – even though this episode is about Introversion and it's for World Introvert Day – people who prefer Extraversion because they also have a side of themselves that they Introvert. So they can they can celebrate World Introvert Day too. Maybe it's a ‘Hey, if you prefer Extraversion on World Introvert Day, pay attention to the side of you that's Introverted.’

JH: They can, and it is certainly true that society as a whole tends to reward and promote Extraversion a little bit more than Introversion. And some people with Extraversion preferences haven't really had the chance to fully develop and value the Introverted side of them. And that could be a real development for many people.

MS: Yeah. Speaking of the whole world of Introversion on World Introvert Day, how do Introversion and Extraversion look different in different cultures? If you have someone who prefers Introversion, for example, even in the US compared to the UK, compared to, say, Japan, are there differences culturally?

JH: There are. People sometimes talk about the onion model of personality. And if you slice through an onion – and avoid crying – if you slice through that onion, you'll see it's in concentric circles, it's in layers. Your personality type is somewhere deep inside there. It's about who you really are. And your behaviors are on the outside. And in between the two is all the other influences on your behavior –  things like your culture, the culture that you live in, the culture that you're brought up in, your parental influences, so on and so forth.

Whatever our type, our actual behavior can be very much affected by the culture that we live in. And you're right to mention the US and UK, for example. So I'm from the United Kingdom. One thing that you'll notice about people from the United States is that they tend to behave in a way which is seen as more Extraverted. They are more likely to introduce themselves, to talk a little bit more, sometimes to talk a little bit louder. And you'll see those cultural differences, which you've no doubt seen parodied in comedy programs on both sides of it.

MS: I was gonna say I've heard ‘loud’ as the stereotype.

JH: You have that cultural lens. But there are still those differences between Introverts and Extraverts. And amongst a group of British people, you say, ‘That person's clearly got Introversion preference, that person's clearly got Extraversion preference,’ and a group of American people who say the same. There was a good example told to me by a colleague of mine who was Finnish, came from Finland. And I'm allowed to repeat this – the joke was, how do you recognize the Finnish Extravert? Any suggestions?

MS: I don't know. They say hello and nod at you instead of shaking your hand? I don't know. My assumption is that Finland may be a little more contained and reserved.

JH: Finland is a quite contained country until they have a drink, which isn’t very often because alcohol is quite expensive. There’s a whole industry of going backwards and forwards on ferries so they can drink, but that's an entirely different story. The way you recognize a Finnish Extravert is that they look at your shoes, not their shoes, when they're talking to you. So to the outside world, both appear to be more Introverted, but amongst the Finns, they say, ‘Well that person's clearly an Extravert.’

This plays out in different ways across the world. For example, we're talking about things like expressive, initiating – those sorts of behaviors. In some countries across the world, where status is really important, the most senior person in the meeting is always going to speak first. Even if they have an Introversion preference, they're going to speak first. And even if people really definitely have an Extraversion preference and they have scores on initiating and expressive and enthusiastic, they won't speak first because it would be professional death for them to do so before the most important person speaks.

So you'll see in different ways those cultural lenses applying to how we actually use our type. But underneath it all, filtered through the culture, we still have this core difference between Extraversion – contact with the outside world and Introversion – focus on the inner world.

MS: Interesting. I hadn't heard of the onion model before. That's really interesting.

JH: It can be quite misleading until you start actually thinking through why people are doing this particular behavior.

MS: Right. I have a recommendation, by the way, on cutting onions and how to not cry when you're cutting them. So I've heard of freezing them, but also . . .

JH: Wear glasses, put a spoon in your mouth?

MS: I haven't heard spoon, but similarly, you toast a piece of bread and then you hold the bread in your mouth while you're cutting the onion and it stops all the onion spray from coming up into your nose and eyes. And I've tried it, and it looks ridiculous, but it works.

JH: That's probably more practical than holding a spoon in your mouth, which is actually quite difficult, because you have a spoon in your way when you're trying to see what you're doing, and it doesn't work so well. Or you could just cut onions really quickly.

MS: [laughter] Yeah, with the bread, you start to eat it and then it gets small. So as we're wrapping up, first of all, thank you so much for this conversation. I'm excited for everyone to hear about this and learn the differences between all the different Introversion behavior styles, facets, and really how there are similarities, obviously, between people who prefer Introversion, but there's also a ton of differences.

JH: Absolutely.

MS: Last thing – if there’s one tip that you could give people who prefer Introversion, specifically the Introverted audience listening for World Introvert Day, what would you want them to know? What tip do you have or what takeaway would you want people to know?

JH: I don't know if this is a tip, but it’s certainly a takeaway, is you're not alone. You're more than half the world, and you're not weird. It's perfectly fine to be an Introvert, and the sooner other people realize that, the better. And hopefully conversations like this could help with that.

MS: Perfect. I like that. We are together. We are not weird.

JH: A tip for Extraverts would be to give that Introvert person space. Give them space to think and space to talk. And you'd be really agreeably surprised by what good stuff comes out in return.

MS: There we go. Thank you so much, John, for being on this podcast. Fantastic information. Love this. I think we should do a World Introvert Day podcast episode every year.

JH: Sounds good.

MS: We look forward to hearing from you on another episode.

JH: Look forward to it.


Outro: Thanks for listening to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast. If you like what you heard today, please share it with others, post on social media, or leave a rating or review. Thanks again and we'll see you next time.