Ambivert — who is it? How does he or she differ from an introvert and an extrovert?

Ambivert is one of the more interesting, but as of yet not very well known concepts that have emerged in modern psychology. Who is and what are the characteristics of an ambivert? Here is everything you need to know about this personality type.

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To put it simply, experts in the human mind and emotions believe that this is the term used by people who fall somewhere in the middle on the scale between introversion and extroversion. This means that he or she may exhibit traits of both types of personality or have a completely different personality (but it is worth remembering that you should not perceive your person entirely through one prism and put yourself and others into one drawer).

What is an ambivert?

An ambivert is a person whose personality shows a balance between introverted and extroverted traits. The author of the term “ambivert” is Hans Eysenck, a famous English psychologist with German roots. He was a personality researcher and for many years analyzed personality traits using the method of statistical factor analysis. He worked in the behavioral system and believed that basic factors describing human personality could be distinguished. His academic output is really impressive with about 50 books and 900 scientific articles. Even today, his EPQ-R questionnaire is used in diagnosis or research, although it must be admitted that this practice is becoming increasingly rare.

Ambivalence, introversion, extraversion — what are these terms about?

Ambivalence is a term that was coined recently, in contrast to the terms “introversion” and then “extraversion” (before this term was coined, the terms “introversion” and “extraversion” functioned in psychology). They were introduced by Carl Gustav Jung, who studied human personality based on Ernst Kretschmer’s old classification of temperament. The terms introvert and extrovert were first used in a work titled “Psychologische Typen” published in 1921, but entered the everyday vocabulary of those interested in personal development somewhat later.

Carl Gustav Jung — [Photo: ETH Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Various researchers have approached the introversion-extroversion spectrum in various ways. Jung described these traits as two directions in which a person’s overall life and psychic energy may be directed. According to these, the extrovert directs his main adaptive (adjustment) activities outward, toward other people and contact with them. He is more susceptible to the expectations and states of the social environment. An introvert, on the other hand, is more inward-looking, tends to be withdrawn, and pays more attention to his or her own mental states.

The aforementioned Hans Eysenck believed that extraversion is a set of interrelated traits (sociability, liveliness, activity, sensation-seeking) that introverts have little or no trait of. In turn, Costa and McCrae, authors of one of the most popular models of human personality (the Big Five), divided extraversion into 6 separate components (sociability, friendliness, assertiveness, activity, sensation seeking, and emotionality in terms of positive emotions). According to the researchers, introverts are characterized by the absence of behaviors characteristic of introverts, not their inverse. This does not mean that introverts are gloomy, anxious or hostile.

The spectrum of extraversion and introversion is also considered neurologically. Many researchers believe that extroverts have chronically elevated levels of nervous system activation, while introverts have a predominance of decreased activation. There have been many interesting studies that have shown, for example, that introverted people have increased blood flow in the anterior thalamus and frontal lobe, while extroverts have increased blood flow in the temporal lobes and posterior thalamus. Introverts produce conditioned reflexes faster than extroverts.

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

Somewhere on this personality scale is the ambivert — who is it and what characterizes it? According to some, an ambivert is a person who cannot identify with either introversion or extroversion. Jung himself already believed that definite introverts and extroverts are a minority and most people are in the middle, but he did not name this most numerous group. Who is an ambivert? It is a person who balances the qualities of an introvert and an extrovert. There are many indications that this balanced, and most common, personality type is also the one best suited to deal with life’s challenges. This is positive news, but it can be interpreted in different ways.

Ambivert and introvert — the differences

The ambivert is in the middle on the scale between extroverted and introverted personalities. He or she is certainly different from an introvert, whose mental energy is directed inward and focused on his or her own experiences. Introverts need distance from other people, which does not mean they are afraid of or dislike them. Their level of need to feel risk and adrenaline is lower than that of extroverts.

A personality type that can be described as extremely introverted makes it somewhat difficult to function. Those introverts who are unhappy are especially those whose circumstances force them to be around other people a lot, in hustle and bustle. Such circumstances can make them feel tired and even exhausted. The ambivert, therefore, should cope somewhat better with the workload among people.

Extreme introverts are sometimes locked into the world of their experiences. Ambiverts are not threatened by this — they are able to adapt to more different life situations, even with more tension in the background. It takes more time before they feel exhausted by turmoil or dynamic changes. They are able to focus on their inner self and then shift their focus seamlessly to the outside world.

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Ambivert and extrovert — differences

An ambivert is also different from an extrovert. Extreme extroverts have trouble coping when they are isolated from a group of people. They can ill tolerate prolonged quiet, lack of intense stimuli, and stressful situations to which they react quickly and strongly. An extrovert needs people, conversation, and confusion. Therefore, it may be difficult for him to concentrate in work that requires monotonous activities.

The ambivert, on the other hand, adjusts more easily to silence, calmness, and an atmosphere of concentration. He does not need to change his interests every few weeks, constantly looking for new acquaintances and sources of intense emotions. He also does not need praise and signs of social acceptance as the extreme extrovert does. Thanks to this flexibility, he can cope with a wider variety of conditions. A temporary lack of company does not cause him strong anxiety.

Ambivalence traits

Ambivalence is not a disease, so it is difficult to talk about its “symptoms”. There are many indications that ambiverts are 2/3 or even 3/4 of the population. Who is an ambivert and how do you tell if you belong to this group? Some argue that both introversion, extraversion, and ambivert are artificial terms that promote the pigeonholing of people and assign them to top-down created types. According to the descriptions of ambivert personality, its representatives are almost “perfect people”, coping well in every situation. Indeed, a careful study of their declared traits might suggest so.

  • ability to adapt to most circumstances,
  • liking of people and being with them,
  • the ability to listen and at the same time share their own thoughts,
  • flexibility in a broad sense,
  • good stress tolerance,
  • ability to cope with loneliness,
  • emotional balance.
Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

Does this mean that most of humanity are perfect people, perfectly coping with adversity and flexibly adapting to any situation encountered? It is enough to live among people to conclude that this is not the case. Everyone has their own problems, difficulties and limitations, but also strengths. Human personality cannot be reduced to a single term that describes it comprehensively and exhaustively. The spectrum of introversion-extroversion with the term “ambivalence” in between is only a signpost in the search for one’s place in life.

Each extreme, including in the intensity of personality traits, brings with it problems and difficulties. The term “ambivergence” and the high intensity of this phenomenon is a reminder that most people will find traits within themselves that support daily functioning.

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