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What Is Extraversion?


Question: What Is Extraversion?

In the big 5 theory of personality, extraversion is one of the five core traits believed to make up human personality. Extraversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and excitability.

People who are high in extraversion tend to seek out social stimulation and opportunities to engage with others. These individuals are often described as being full of life, energy and positivity. In group situations, extraverts are likely to talk often and assert themselves.

Introverts, on the other hand, are people who are low in extraversion. They tend to be quiet, reserved and less involved in social situations. It is important to note that introversion and shyness are not the same thing. People low in extraversion are not afraid of social situations, they simply prefer to spend more time alone and do not need as much social stimulation.

Common Extraversion Traits

Extraversion is often marked by a number of different sub-traits. Some of these include:

  • Warmth
  • Seeking novelty and excitement
  • Gregariousness
  • Assertive
  • Cheerful
  • Talkative
  • Enjoys being the center of attention
  • Action oriented

Extraversion and Behavior

How does extraversion impact our behavior? Researchers have found that being high in this personality trait is linked to a number of different tendencies. In addition to contributing to our personalities, this trait may also play a role in the type of career that we end up choosing.

According to researchers, extraversion is associated with leadership behavior. Since extraverts are more likely to assert themselves in groups, it makes sense that these individuals often take on leadership roles when working with other people.

Research has also shown that extraverts are less likely to experience anxiety over negative feedback. Those high in extraversion are often described as having a very positive outlook on life as well as being friendly, energetic and highly adaptable. All of these tendencies can serve a person well, particularly in certain social situations.

As you might imagine, high levels of extraversion can be particularly well suited to jobs that require a great deal of interaction with other people. Teaching, sales, marketing, public relations, and politics are all jobs in which an extravert might to well. Introverts prefer less social interaction so jobs that require lots of independent work are often ideal. Writing, computer programming, engineering and accounting are all jobs that might appeal to a person low in extraversion.


Fremont, T., Means, G. H., & Means, R. S. (1970). Anxiety as a function of task performance feedback and extraversionintroversion. Psychological Reports ,27,455-458.

Hogan, R., Johnson, J. & Briggs, S. (Eds.) (1997). Handbook of personality psychology. California: Academic Press.

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