The Extraversion Dimension of Personality

In Big Five personality theory, Extraversion describes how likely a person is to experience positive emotions like excitement, joy, and enthusiasm, particularly in response to interacting with other people. People who score higher in Extraversion are energized and stimulated by interacting with people, so they seek a wide circle of relationships and a busy social calendar. People who score lower in Extraversion (Introverts) are more reserved and feel depleted by too many social interactions.

Extraversion describes a person’s inclination to seek stimulation from the outside world, especially in the form of attention from other people. Extraverts engage actively with others to earn friendship, admiration, power, status, excitement, and romance. Introverts, on the other hand, conserve their energy, and do not work as hard to earn these social rewards.

Extraversion seems to be related to the emotional payoff that a person gets from achieving a goal. While everyone experiences victories in life, it seems that extroverts are especially thrilled by these victories, especially when they earn the attention of others. Getting a promotion, finding a new romance, or winning an award are all likely to bring an extrovert great joy. In contrast, introverts do not experience as much of a “high” from social achievements. They tend to be more content with simple, quiet lives, and rarely seek attention from others.

What Does High Extraversion Look Like?

People who are high in extraversion are highly motivated to experience the thrills and achievements that life has to offer. They engage actively with their surroundings to pursue satisfying rewards, especially social rewards like friendship, admiration, power, status, excitement, and romance.

Highly Extraverted people experience more positive emotions than the average person. Happiness, joy, excitement, and enthusiasm all come to them more readily, and as a result, they feel the “ups” of life especially keenly.

People who are high in extraversion are more likely to have many friends and an active social life. They also tend to have more romantic relationships. Extraverts express more positive emotions than non-extroverts and typically have more energy.

Extraverts are also more likely to be ambitious and interested in increasing their social standing. They tend to work hard to achieve power and prestige and get a special thrill from going after rewards such as money, status, or attention from others.

What Does Low Extraversion Look Like?

While Extraverts engage actively with others in order to earn friendship, admiration, power, status, excitement, and romance, Introverts tend to conserve their energy, and do not work as hard to earn these social rewards. Introverts tend to get less of a thrill out of social achievements, and are naturally less motivated to expend energy to pursue them.

Introverted people are reserved, calm, and low-key. They are easily overstimulated and avoid busy and noisy environments as they find them to be overwhelming. They often find it difficult to express themselves and may prefer others to do the talking. They are generally placid and not easily excited.

People who are low in Extraversion tend to be fairly independent, and do not need a lot of admiration or recognition from others in order to feel satisfied. They tend not to be interested in money or status, and would rather lead a life that is personally pleasing than one that gains them the attention of others.

A common misconception about Introverts is that they are shy. However, shyness describes anxiety about socializing, which is more closely related to the trait of Neuroticism. In general, Introverts simply don’t have much interest in interacting with people. It is more accurate to describe them as aloof, rather than shy. Introverts often feel that socializing is simply not worth the trouble or energy it requires.

Molly Owens
Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly. Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.