10 Myths about Introverts – UPDATED

When our younger son went off to college, my husband and I — unsure of how we would deal with the empty nest — signed up for a six week course at a local parish. I honestly don’t remember much about it except for this: in the second week, the class participants spent some time with the Myers Briggs Type Indicators and my husband finally had the proof he needed to believe what I had been telling him for years: he is a profoundly extroverted person, and I am — as even the instructor, with raised eyebrows averred, a “true” introvert (INFJ).

After all of our years together, I finally understood my husband’s need to be out and about doing, meeting, talking, socializing and he finally understood why it was all so exhausting to me. I no longer ask him why he feels the need to accept any invitation that comes his way, and he no longer says “but we just got here, what do you mean, you’re fried?”

So, I really like this piece on 10 myths about introverts:

Unfortunately, according to this book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)

So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (not taken directly from the book, but based on my own life experience):

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

You can read the rest, here.

Famous INFJ’s

Have you ever done a Myers Briggs profile?

Famous INFJ’s

I’ve done this hiding in the bathroom to recharge thing. Even when I’m hosting the party!

Instapundit links! Thanks, Glenn!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jenny

    Myers Briggs…the bane of my freshman year in college. I am an INTJ. Or as my professor strongly implied, all the wrong ones.

  • friscoeddie

    We gave a short but accurate version to marriage prep couples and it was well recieved and found enlightening about future spouse. . I think it’s best for couples to each have different profiles .. two Ps would live in a mess and two Js would have no fun.. me=ENTP

  • Patty

    Done a M-B profile — ISTJ. The I part is red-lined. :-)

  • Jenny

    Just took it again. Still INTJ. You would think my house would be cleaner than it is. :)

  • Marie Bernadette

    Jenny, I too am an INTJ. Join the club – we’re rare, but fairly awesome :)

  • Mark L

    I am an INTP, although an atypical one. The “N” and “T” are almost off-scale high, while I am only mildly on the Introvert side of the Introvert/Extrovert scale and on the Perceiver side of the Perceiver/Judger scale. My wife is an INTJ with strong scores on each scale. And yes, with her as the J and me with a P, we have a successful marriage. My younger brother is another P married to a J — his marriage is quite successful, too. My older brother and his wife are both Ps — and their marriage is utterly chaotic.

    Why does one of each work best? Because marriage is a partnership. It works best with the two spouses complimenting each other rather than supplementing the other. A Judger comes to a conclusion as quickly as possible, and may overlook possibilities in their desire to reach closure. A Perceiver is fascinated by all the different possiblities — to the point where they may not *ever* reach a decision. (Frequently the case in my older brother’s household.) A Perceiver match with a Judger comes up with a wide assortment of options, but is forced by the spouse to drill down and pick one — an option the Judger might otherwise have never considered.

    I took the test while taking an organizational behavior class. Understanding it has helped me motivate people.

    Jenny — if your professor implied your answers were the wrong ones, there is something wrong with your professor, not you. A world filled with all one type of person would be dull indeed.

  • Ann

    I’m an introvert too, and I’m all for tearing down those myths.

    I find myself turning to the introversion vs. extroversion idea to explain a lot of things, about myself, and also in my dealings with others.

    I’ve often wished that more extroverts would take the time to learn about the introverts in their lives. My heart aches for introverted children who have extroverted parent(s), who sometimes may not understand why their child acts the way they do, and they think something is “wrong” with them.

    However, I’ve also realized for myself, I need to remember that we live in a society that highly values extroversion and to adjust accordingly.

  • flodigarry

    INTJ myself. Really liked the article and was nodding my head in agreement throughout.

  • Alan

    My Myers Briggs Type is
    Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging
    Strength of the preferences %
    78 62 75 89

    I am the 11th of 12 children, and 10 of my siblings are extroverts… It was rather difficult growing up in such an environment, but it was good preparation for the real world and helping me develop techniques to deal with them…

    I have forwarded the “10 myths” article to each of them for their enlightenment.

    Thank you, Ma’am.

  • Jen

    I’m also an INFJ. Nice to be in your company, Elizabeth. :)

  • SteveM

    M-B is great stuff, if you feel true to Type.

    Here’s a good site with more details about each M-B Type:
    Follow the Career, Relationships and Personal Growth links too at the bottom of each specific Type overview.

    And here’s great book on M-B Typology:

  • Rex

    ISTJ here. My wife is ENFP, so we’re perfect complements! Both took M-B back in the early 80′s, and it did a lot to help our marriage. I suddenly realized that she wasn’t trying to provoke me or be careless when she would make a PB&J and leave the loaf of bread unwrapped, the lid off the PB and jelly jars (leaving them on the counter), and leaving the dirty knife next to the jars. Instead, her mind was just on to other things. It also explained why I’d get home from work and just want to relax by myself, while she would get home and want to go out. So we compromised a bit.

    Over the years, my job made me closer to the I-E midpoint, while hers brought her closer to the J-P midpoint. We’ve been married 42 years now, and I doubt we could have lasted so long if it hadn’t been for the M-B training.

  • elizabethintexas

    INTJ and I loved the list. Every time I have to take that inventory, I get the same combo. Now, if the rest of the world had to memorize that list, we would all be happy.

  • DensityDuck

    Beautiful. “I’m not a jerk. I’m just an introvert. Don’t you dare judge me, you insensitive extrovert!” Asperger’s got too trendy, so now we need something else for people who think that ‘smart’ excuses ‘rude’ to explain how come they ain’t got no friends.

  • http://raphordo.blogspot.com Raphael

    I’m an INFJ too. As an aspie, I’m rather an extreme one, I think. I wonder if all the bloggers I like to read are INFJ’s? Hmmm…

  • Katherine

    There are an a lot of us INTJs here, more than can be easily explained. Um…?

    I loved the list. To night is my childrens Christmas sing at church, and they can not understand why I am dreading it.

  • HMS

    I have been a big advocate of the MBTI for quite a few years – so much an advocate that I had to became qualified to administer and process the MBTI.

    I find it interesting that Isabel Briggs Myers, the woman who developed the instrument, was a Quaker and that the book she wrote near the end of here life (d. 1980) has the title, “Gifts Differing”. She took those words from Romans 12:4-8. It was her belief that if people would respect each other’s gifts, we could get along in the world. Of course her type, INFP, is the most idealist of all of the 16 types.

    Recently, I administered the MBTI to my son and his fiancé. They are direct opposites (she, ESTJ and he, INFP). Yet, they seem to respect and complement each other so well.

    My husband is an extrovert (ESFJ and I am an Introvert (INFJ). When we go out to an intimate spot for dinner, he will look around and say: “This place needs people.” Meanwhile, I am thinking: “Great. Things are quiet. We can have a nice chat.”

    My parents were both extraverts. (You knew where you stood with them.) How they produced six Introverts and only one Extravert baffles me. Yet, when we have family gatherings, someone will say: “Do you remember when Johnny (the only extravert) blurted THAT out?”

    I could go on and on about how many times I have observed that knowledge of one’s type can enhance our lives.

  • Judith

    Another INTJ here – seem to be quite a few of us “rare birds” flocking together at this particular site.

    However, I’m strongest on the NT – those two never vary – but like Mark L, my “I” and “J” scores are less intense – I’ve actually scored as an E on one occasion and a P once.

    But, I’ve got to add, as a once upon a time social science researcher – the validity of the Myers-Briggs constructs is very controversial.

  • Freehold

    Very strong ISTJ here (engineer/manager). Married to another ISTJ (engineer/CPA). Its worked out well for us. Our house is usually very quiet :)

  • Locarno

    Any over-representation by one or a closely allied subset of personality types could be due to the fact that Glenn Reynolds used the word ‘Introvert’ when linking here. It is reasonable to assume that said link would be more interesting to introverts, which would disproportionately impact the personality types reading the article. We could further assume that, being introverts, most won’t leave a comment just to leave a comment. Therefore, we can assume there might well be a common thread among introverts who do actually leave a comment.

    The common thread seems to be the N element, as all the commenting introverts are INTx or INFx. This comment is no exception.

  • http://2012.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    My wife nagged me for years about taking the Myers-Briggs test, despite the fact I took it several times at her insistence. I finally asked her what result I needed to get to put a stop to it.

    So now my M-B type is IDTT: I Don’t Take Tests.

  • Joseph Moore

    M-B is a fun parlor game, but it fails the basic philosophical test of ‘is reaching the conclusions you reach even possible using the methods you use?’ The answer is ‘no’. Basically, it’s Jung’s anecdotal speculations dressed in the lab coat of a sciency-sounding test – with, decades later, an entire industry grown up around it.

    Are there introverts? Sure. Extroverts? Sure, too. Does the test tell you anything more than that? Doubt it. Walker Percy has some insight into why this sort of thing is so appealing: http://tinyurl.com/8a65ve6.

    Joseph, one of those INTJs, and you know how we are about this sort of thing.

  • Father Paul

    At last, vindication for those of us who are INFJ! I know we serve a purpose in the world.

  • Jay

    We test for this and find most of our people are INTJ’s or P’s- Here’s one of my favorite Myers-Briggs items-
    The “Serenity Prayer” humorously parodied for each of the different MBTI types:

    ■ISTJ – God, help me to begin relaxing about little details tomorrow at 11:41:32 am.
    ■ISFJ – Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it exactly right.
    ■INFJ – Lord, help me not be a perfectionist (Did I spell that right?)
    ■INTJ – Lord, keep me open to others’ ideas, wrong though they may be.
    ■ISTP – God, help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive.
    ■ISFP – Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if You don’t mind my asking).
    ■INFP – Lord, help me to finish everything I sta
    ■INTP – Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
    ■ESTP – God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually not my fault.
    ■ESFP – God, help me to take things more seriously especially parties and dancing.
    ■ENFP – God, help me keep my mind on one thing – Look, a bird – at a time.
    ■ENTP – God, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.
    ■ESTJ – God, help me to try not to run everything, but if You need some help, just ask.
    ■ESFJ – Lord, give me patience and I mean right now.
    ■ENFJ – God, help me to do only what I can and trust You for the rest. Do You mind putting that in writing?
    ■ENTJ – God, help me to slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdoAmen.

  • addison

    Another INTJ here. Rather severe ‘I’ and ‘T’, 96 and 100%, respectively.

  • Reg

    INTP here. I think we are the rarest type.

  • Katherine


    That was funny, thanks for it.

  • Anne B.

    OK, I ran the test, but I got an “incomplete” because there were questions I couldn’t answer, such as:

    “You tend to be unbiased even if this might endanger
    your good relations with people”

    and: “You easily perceive various ways
    in which events could develop.”

    I don’t know what the first one means, and as to the second, all I can say is, “Well, sometimes.”

    Anyway, my final configuration was ISTJ – heavy on the J and extremely scant on the S – I see that I’m in good company with Greta Garbo and Donald Rumsfeld. I can live with that.

    And DensityDuck, it’s kinda rude of you to assume that WE’RE rude, or using it as an excuse for rudeness. If I’m out in company and I’ve had enough, I’m very polite as I excuse myself and get the hell out of there.

  • http://supergrandkids.com Beth

    I’m an INFJ too! Woo-hoo! This post just reminded me – I need an afternoon at home curled up with my favorite book and a cup of coffee. Nothing more energizing for this introvert.

  • Fred

    INTJ – God, help me forgive my enemies and remind me to put flowers on their graves.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Actually, I think introverts are more common than is generally assumed. I actually think exroverts might be more the rarity.
    Actually, I think most people occupy a pretty broad spectrum, and are not always easy to pigeonhole.

    (As for this test, I never took it, so I’ve no idea what all the “J’s”, “T’s”, “N’s,” “ISTJ’s” etc. really mean.)

  • Katie

    ISTJ, here, and have been since I first took the MBTI 7 or 8 years ago. The tool, and the ability to compare/contrast types with my co-workers was invaluable on many occasions, and provided insight that I’ve used since then. Even if I don’t know a friend or colleague’s “Type”, I can glean enough from their public interactions to get a sense of the “E/I” dichotomy, and occasionally, the other three.

    I highly recommend taking the MBTI, if only to get a sense of where your preferences lie. They may change over time (I can see me shifting from J to P in a few places, for example!), but understanding yourself is key when you need to relate to other people!

  • http://takemetoyourlizard.blogspot.com Brother J

    Jonathan Rauch wrote about introverts in The Atlantic back in 2003. Commenting on the how many people are introverts 25% statistic he says “The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—”a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.”

    This INTP likes that interpretation very much.

  • http://doublenickelfarm.blogspot.com Jennifer

    This is so nice to read.
    Often being mistaken as who knows what, I definitely can relate.

  • Elena

    Proud INTJ (The only perfect choice :), where the I and one other trait are capitalized, bold, highlighted and underlined. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the other strong trait is. Did anyone else agonize over some of the choices? For example, while the words “facts” and “creativity” both appeal to me equally I had to go with facts as a means to be effectively creative since a firm grasp of the facts ennables more realistic creativity. There were a few questions where I chose one option as a means of more effectively achieving the other. Does this throw the results into question or is it meant to work like that?

  • Kate

    Thirty years or so ago I was extremely ISTJ, and I’m still ISTJ, only not quite so extreme as I used to be. S actually declined quite a bit, but I and J are still very strong. I wish my E friends would understand how much I detest parties, and how much I would rather just have a quiet cup of tea with _one_ person at a time than gather in a large, talkative group. I’m afraid the image of heaven as a great wedding feast sounds more like purgatory to me, and I often ask God to please let me just have a quiet cottage somewhere with books, yarn, and my beloved cats.

  • John

    The retort to Myth #3 is off-base: introverts aren’t particularly rude, AND they are just as likely as extroverts to beat around the bush and to be capable of social pleasantries. A tendency towards sharp-edged communication, in the MBTI scheme, is linked more to the T and J preferences.

    (Field exercise: try and make an ISFP be brutally honest with you, or an ISTJ act nonconformist.)

  • http://myfourrooms.blogspot.com Jeannine

    INFJ here. Learning about introverts vs. extroverts over the last few years has been very helpful to me. Understanding that I need a lot of space between big social activities (which I enjoy in small bits, but too much exuahsts me) was a life changing revelation.

    Great post!

  • John Davies

    I’m INTJ and found a home in the swing dance community. I get to socialize in a controlled setting, but most of the time I’m able to enjoy the company of friends without talking. And when we talk, it’s usually about dance.

  • Dan

    INTP here. The incessant yapping of extraverts is what’s rude ;-)

    recommended reading:

    Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie A. Helgoe
    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (01/2012)

    now leave me alone!

  • RebeccaH

    Thank you for that! I, too, am an introvert married to an extreme extrovert, and it has caused problems in our marriage over the years (mostly because he does not understand why I am the way I am… I never objected much to his need to be out and about). It’s extremely comforting to know that there’s a whole group of people like me (although, I’ve been around long enough to strongly suspect I’m not as unusual as everyone else seems to think).

  • Steve Colby

    Jenny – I am also an INTJ, scoring 11 out of 10 on the ‘I’ part. My professors didn’t have any issues with it, but then, they were all engineering profs.

  • Matt

    Mark L writes, “marriage is a partnership. It works best with the two spouses complimenting each other rather than supplementing the other.”

    A true INTP would know the difference between “complimenting” and “complementing.” ;-)

  • Aurelia

    Really interesting post. I’m also an INFJ… very much so! Interesting list of celebs, I feel like I can relate to a lot of those people… or at least a lot of the characters they portray… which I think a lot of actors kind of play parts they can relate to or at least make parts “theirs.”

  • Hodge

    I’m a licensed and board certified psychologist, and and I’ve always come out as an extreme INTJ. I’ve given more than a few MBTIs in career assessment and team building. They’re useful up to a point. As you folks have seen, they can put a lot of things in perspective and give you some AHA moments. BUT — there’s a cult around the MBTI and people start to think it’s magic. When you do the statistics on it, the individual dimensions, especially the E and I, are generally predictive of behavior. But things fall apart when you start to make predictions based on the combinations. And obviously there’s the danger of putting people into one of 16 boxes and responding to the stereotype of the box rather than the real person. Just sayin’ …

  • http://dianesherlock.wordpress.com/ Diane

    INFP here along with many of my fellow novelists! Took the test years ago for the first time and it helped me a lot – didn’t feel like such an oddball! (and it helped me find “my people” as well)

  • pawn

    Trendiness aside, it nice to know why the rest of the world has different priorities.

    Good link: Ode to a INFJ


  • Gregg the Obscure

    I’ve taken MBTI dozens of times, even the “professional” versions, from the early 80s on. Until a few years ago, result was always INFJ, but now consistently INTJ, always with N and J pretty far to the extremes. Odd in that it isn’t supposed to be possible to go from NF to NT. If you were to ask INFJ groupies, they’d say I’ve become embittered. If you were to ask INTJ enthusiasts, they might say I’ve matured.

    Our former pastor is a very introverted fellow. He’d do great with all the folks on Sunday, but then need a day and a half (or more) to himself to recharge.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Greg, rather than asking INFJ’s, or INTJ’s what’s happened to you, why don’t you ask yourself?

    Do you really need a test to define yourself?

  • HMS

    Gregg the Obscure;
    I have suggested to people who see a change in one of preferences over the years to look at extended descriptions of the two possibilities and see which one fits better. When I took the MBTI for the first time, I came up ENFJ – but I was doing a great deal of work that required extraverting at the time. Also, I think that I valued extraversion, because I thought that it was valued more in our society. (I still think that is true.)