It’s simple, right? You are either an introvert, who gains energy from alone time, or an extrovert, who gains energy from social interactions. Not so fast! You may be surprised to learn that there are actually four distinct subtypes under the general personality trait of introversion.
Each of the four different types of introverts has a different temperament, different preferences and tendencies, as well as a different root cause for their introversion. A single introverted person may have one type that is clearly dominant, or may be a mix of two, three, or all four types. More comprehensive tests for your type of introversion will rank your score for each type on a point system rather than merely telling you which type you fall into. We’ll provide a link to such a test later on.
In this article, we will skim each type to give you the gist of what makes each type of introvert tick, and then go into more detail on the thinking introvert type. We’ll detail key questions to help determine your degree of thinking introversion as well as provide a link to a more thorough self-test. Finally, we’ll finish up with life tips for the thinking introvert navigating the outside extrovert-worshiping world.
The four-type model of the introverted personality was put together by Jennifer Odessa Grimes, who was then a graduate student studying under Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley University. Odessa, Cheek, and other graduate students conducted survey research on a group of 500 introverts ranging in age from 18 to 70 years old. Analyzing the surveys, four distinct types emerged which followed similar patterns. This model is now the most widely accepted introvert type system in the field of personality psychology.
Grimes’ and Cheek’s four types of introverts are the social introvert, the thinking introvert, the anxious introvert, and the restrained introvert. An individual may be strongly dominant in one type, such as anxious introversion, or may be a hybrid of two or more tied types, such as a thinking-restrained introvert. Let’s skim the types to help delineate the differences.
A social introvert is someone who is drained by excessive social activity. They are not anxious or fearful about social interactions, but they do require extra time to recover after a social event, even when they have enjoyed themselves. The root cause of their introverted behavior is their sensitive nervous system and need to recharge their batteries through time spent alone.
The thinking introvert is the type who is always – you guessed it – thinking. These are the quiet observers who are often found lost in their own thoughts or daydreams rather than engaging in social activities. Much more on that later.
The anxious introvert’s inward-facing tendencies are driven by anxiety and feelings of awkwardness in social settings. An anxious introvert’s anxiety may or may not be alleviated by time spent alone. Even alone, they may ruminate over past events or possible futures. There is a fine line between having an anxious-introverted personality and suffering from an anxiety disorder. When in doubt, or if anxiety is causing undue stress, it’s always best to consult professional help.
Finally, the restrained introvert is the tortoise to society’s hare. These introverts are slow starters who naturally require extra time to get up in the morning, get going on a project, break the ice with new people, respond in a conversation, etc. Once they do get going, they are the slow and steady type who will get their tasks done in their own sweet time. They are not to be rushed.
A thinking introvert is the quiet observer type. Though they may not say much, the wheels are always turning. A thinking introvert examines ideas from multiple angles, teasing out different perspectives and considerations that would be overlooked by a shallower thinker. They may be slow to respond in conversation because they are not through thinking yet!
Thinking introverts generally despise group projects that require brainstorming sessions or other collaborative types of thinking. The reason why is that the thinking introvert likes to present a well-developed finished project rather than offering up half-baked ideas for public scrutiny. They may express themselves much better in writing than verbally and prefer to communicate at their own pace through emails and texts rather than in person or over the phone.
Thinking introverts may be dreamy and idealistic like Alice from Alice in Wonderland, or highly logical and analytical, like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. Or they may be a combination of all of the above. A thinking introvert has a rich and complex inner life and may be prone to fantasies and daydreams. Others may see the thinking introvert as having their “head in the clouds”.
Thinking introverts are deep people. They may take longer to respond because their thinking is deeper and more complex, drawing from long-term memory stores rather than dashing off whatever has floated to the top of their heads. Scientists, writers, artists, musicians, and other creative types are often high in thinking introversion.
Below you will find several statements that correspond to a high degree of thinking introversion. If you resonate strongly with many or all of these statements, thinking introversion is probably your dominant type. If you relate moderately to the statements, you probably have a thinking component to your introversion and are dominant in one of the other types (social, anxious, or restrained). If these statements don’t sound like you at all, you’re probably another type or combination of types.
A complete self-test that allows you to rank yourself for each of the four types can be found on the Scientific American blog: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/what-kind-of-introvert-are-you/
The first thing to know is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a thinking introvert, or any of the four types of introverts, for that matter. Introverts have amazing contributions to make on all levels, from the one to one interpersonal level all the way to leading movements that shake the foundations of the world.
That being said, it’s not always easy to be an introvert and it can often feel pretty dang difficult trying to cope with our extrovert-oriented workplaces, schools, and cultural phenomena.
Here are some tips to help the thinking introvert stay happy, healthy, and sane.
Design your life to be as introvert-friendly as possible. Take plenty of time for quiet reflection to allow you drop into your inner nature. There is nothing wrong with introversion, dreaminess, and being analytical. However, introverts may be prone to mental isolation, which can get pretty stale. Even very inwardly-oriented people will benefit from inviting measured doses of fresh perspectives. And no, fictional characters do not count…
Joking aside, thinking introverts are often those with the best ideas who have incredible innovations to share with the world, yet society may hear precious little from them. Don’t forget to share of yourself, in your own way.
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…