There is much more to the picture than simply identifying yourself as an introvert or an extrovert. The richness of the introvert personality unfolds as we unpack different aspects or types within the introvert personality. Current research holds that there are four types of introverts. These four types can also be viewed as different aspects of the introvert personality that we introverts hold to varying degrees.
Each type / aspect of introversion has different characteristics, needs, preferences, and root causes for being the way that they are. One introverted person may clearly show one dominant aspect, may be an even blend of the four, or may have two or three that really stick out.
For our purposes in this article, we will focus on one type or aspect: restrained introversion. We’ll start with a quick rundown on all four types to help you understand the differences, then move into key questions to help you determine your degree of restrained introversion, finishing up with tips for self-care for restrained introverts navigating workplaces, schools, and social norms that tend to be heavily skewed toward the needs and preferences of more extroverted types.
The current conception of the four types of introverts is drawn from the research of Jennifer Odessa Grimes, who at the time was a graduate student working under Jonathan Cheek, a Wellesley psychologist. Odessa, Cheek and other graduate assistants undertook large-sample survey research on groups of introverts to draw these distinctions. The four types vary in the root causes of their introverted nature, as well as the expression of their temperament.
The four types of introverts are the social introvert, thinking introvert, anxious introvert, and restrained introvert. A welcome positive spin is put on the types in that they come together to form the acronym “STAR”.
Social introverts find that social interactions drain their energy. They are not introverted due to anxiety or shyness, but that their energy system works differently than that of more extroverted people. Social introverts need extra recovery time after any kind of social event, whether the event is outside their comfort zone, such as a networking event or noisy bar for example, or even just spending time with friends and family in a more accustomed setting. They may enjoy themselves when socializing, but find that it takes extra gumption to gear up to go out, and extra alone time afterward to recharge their batteries.
Thinking introverts are introspective and reflective. Rather than bouncing their ideas off others, they tend to mull things over internally before presenting their thoughts for public scrutiny. They examine things deeply and from multiple perspectives and are quite analytical. Thinking introverts may find it very easy to get lost in worlds of their minds’ own creation. Oftentimes, talented writers, artists, and musicians are strong in the trait of thinking introversion.
Anxious introverts find their introverted behavior driven by (you guessed it) anxiety. An anxious introvert will find often find themselves feeling fearful and stressed out by social situations. Others may view anxious introverts as shy or timid. Rather than simply needing extra time to recuperate or extra time to think and reflect, an anxious introvert is unduly stressed when faced with interactions or situations requiring high energy output. This may be an innate trait of certain types of introverts, but more often it can fall under the umbrella of social anxiety disorder. If anxiety is interfering with an introvert’s happiness in life, it’s smart to seek help rather than trying to tough it out.
Restrained introverts are slow starters that take while to ramp up to the demands of daily life. The rest of this article will be devoted to exploring the ins and outs of the trait of restrained introversion.
Recall that a single introverted person may prove strongly dominant in one type of introversion, or may hold aspects of multiple types (more likely to be the latter for most introverts).
In a nutshell, a restrained introvert is someone who is a slow starter. Rather than waking up full of energy and motivation to tackle the tasks of the day, the restrained introvert needs more time to get up to speed. As the day goes on, restrained introverts may not be the most speedy and productive of folk in demanding circumstances, but the deliberate, measured way they go about tasks often leads to a high level of quality in all they do.
Restrained introverts do not have a high need for novelty and action. Rather, they prefer a lower level of stimulation, perhaps feeling overwhelmed in novel or high-pressure situations. Socially, a restrained introvert likes to spend time on quiet and/or intellectual pursuits with one or a few close friends rather than hang out at noisy bars or parties.
When meeting someone new, a restrained introvert will be slow to warm up. This is generally true even when they like the new person and want to get to know them better. Even with people who are known and trusted, there will be times when the restrained introvert becomes silent and possibly withdrawn. This is part of their nature, and does not necessarily mean something is wrong. Those who love the restrained introvert need to accept and respect that fact.
There are free quizzes online to help you determine where your personality falls within the four types of introvert system. Key questions that correspond to restrained introversion are found below. If you relate strongly with most or all of these statements, you rate high for restrained introversion. If you relate moderately with most or strongly with a few, you rate medium. You’re low on restrained introversion if these statements don’t sound like you at all.
On Scientific American’s blog, you can find a quiz adapted from Cheek’s work that allows you to rank yourself on questions for each of the four types.On Scientific American’s blog, you can find a quiz adapted from Grimes’ and Cheek’s work that allows you to rank yourself on questions for each of the four types, including restrained introversion.
If you are a restrained introvert, what you need to be healthy, happy, and productive is different than that which is emphasized in mainstream society. Your ideal life will not look like that of an extrovert, and that is totally OK. Here are some reminders and some suggestions for self-care to help you better navigate life.
Remember that it’s perfectly fine to be a restrained introvert. Build your lifestyle to be introvert-friendly rather than trying to fit yourself into a lifestyle that just doesn’t work for you. You will require more downtime, and be on the more reserved side socially. That’s your right! If there is something you would like to or a person you would like to get to know, allow yourself to approach the situation in your own deliberate way. There is great value in being slow and steady.
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.
Introverts everywhere, get ready to shudder your way through this article. If you fall anywhere…