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September 13, 2012

Definition of Introversion:

Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

  • A minority in the general population, but a majority in the gifted population.
  • Introverts make up about 60% of the gifted population but only about 25-40% of the general population. (Time magazine estimates 30% in the general population).

Examples of Introversion:

  • An introvert will come home from school and immediately escape to the privacy of their room for time alone;
  • Typically a quiet student, who is always book-in-hand, commonly plays alone, and whose favorite place is the reading corner.

Characteristics of Introverts:

  • Not necessarily shy, or depressed, or social outcasts.  It’s a personality trait.
  • The introvert’s main focus is within his/her head (ideas and concepts), as opposed to the extravert’s focus on people and activities.
  • Most people utilize elements of both introversion and extroversion in their daily lives; however there generally is a dominant personality trait that reflects best how the individual prefers to work or deal with the environment, especially in times of stress.
  • Scientists have begun to learn that the introverted/extroverted temperament seems strongly inborn & inherited.  Study: high-reactive babies become inhibited, introverted teenagers.
  • Like perfection, a little is beneficial, too much is harmful.
  • Check speech, hearing, autistic spectrum, or anxiety conditions.

School environment:

  • Modern schools seem to be designed for extraverts (e.g. bus ride, lunch room).  Many teachers report being extraverts.  It’s hard for an extravert to understand introverts – they may see them as someone with a problem, rather than someone with a different personality type.
  • Instruction styles that are suited to introverts: independent studies, small group instruction, and journaling.  Also, wait time, warning about what they are expected to do, activities with minimal noise and stimulation, down time built into the schedule, and moderate amounts of small group work.

Home needs:

  • Private space (especially room)
  • Quiet time
  • Distinguish “alone” from “lonely”, and protect their right to say “enough”
  • Develop coping strategies for when they have to act extroverted.

A better understanding:

  • Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.”
  • When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.
  • Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

Original information published on SENG website.  Click here for more information.

Also, consider checking out the book Quiet.  Click here to watch a video from the author, Susan Cain.

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