How would you answer the following questions?
I enjoy meeting new people at parties. [ ] Yes [ ] No
I enjoy spending quiet time reflecting. [ ] Yes [ ] No
In group meetings, I like expressing my opinion. [ ] Yes [ ] No
In group meetings, I like hearing the thoughts of others. [ ] Yes [ ] No
If you answered Yes to 4 or more of these questions, you may be an…. AMBIVERT!
You have probably heard of introverts and extraverts
Most personality theories posit that you are either an introvert or an extravert. According to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the leading personality assessment in the world, extraverts receive energy from the external world of people and things; introverts receive energy from their own inner world of reflection. The MBTI theory of innate personality types, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers, assumes that each individual has a natural preference for either introversion or extraversion, but may use the opposite approach in appropriate situations.
Extraverts: People who prefer extraversion:
- Need interaction
- Are often friendly, talkative, quick to get to know
- Tend to be involved in many activities and have many friends
Intraverts: People who prefer introversion:
- Need privacy
- Are often reserved, take time to get to know
- Tend to be involved in fewer activities, in more depth, and develop close relationships with fewer people
What if you have aspects of both introversion and extraversion?
Carl Jung, the psychologist upon whose theories the MBTI was originally based, identified a third personality type called “ambiverts.” In his landmark classic, Psychological Types, he writes: “There is, finally, a third group … the most numerous and includes the less differentiated normal man … He constitutes the extensive middle group.” Ambiverts use a blend of extraversion and introversion, depending on the mood of the individual and the needs of the situation.
The continuum below illustrates a personality continuum from introvert to ambivert to extravert.
According to Robert McCrae, a personality psychologist at the National Institute of Aging, ambiverts represent about 38% of the population.
What are the Benefits of Being an Ambivert?
The ability to use strengths of both introversion and extraversion has numerous benefits.
Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor in the history of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, researched the sales staff of a software company and correlated sales revenue with degree of extraversion. He found a “U-shaped” relationship in which sales revenue was maximized by salespeople who scored in the middle of a 1-7 extraversion scale, at 3-5.
In his Research Report “Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage,” Grant explained:
“Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”
Many psychologists emphasize the fluid nature of the ambivert. Dr. Brian Little, world-renown personality psychologist, currently at Cambridge University, told The Huffington Post,
“Ambiverts can take the best of both. [They] have rather more degrees of freedom to shape their lives than those who are at extremes of other ends. Ambiverts are in that nice zone, in that sweet spot, where they’re able to act out of character as a pseudo-introvert or a pseudo-extravert, without paying the nervous system costs.”
Daniel Pink, a leading social scientist, thinks that effective leaders draw their power from their excellent sales skills in persuading and influencing employees, suppliers, funders and their board. These people can assess the needs of the situation, and act accordingly.
“We’d be far better off with those who take a more calibrated approach — who can talk smoothly but also listen keenly, who know when to turn on the charm but also when to turn it off, who combine the extrovert’s assertiveness with the introvert’s quiet confidence. In other words, when it comes to picking leaders, perhaps we should look for people a bit more like us.”
Pink was so intrigued with the introvert-ambivert-extravert scale that he developed his own simple 18-question assessment tool!
Hans Eysenck is a German psychologist who is credited with coining the term “ambivert” in 1947. He viewed ambiverts as being the most emotionally stable of the extraversion continuum, in that they are receptive but not overly influenced by outside factors.
Wondering about your personality type? Contact Collegiate Gateway – as always, we’re happy to help!