Do Ambiverts Exist

Posted 09 Dec 2019 by Melissa Summer

What if you feel like you have preferences for both Extraversion and Introversion? You like your alone time once and a while, but too much alone time leaves you wanting to see people. And you have no problem socializing at events or at work, but after a lot of socializing you just want some alone time?

One of the most common questions people have when figuring out their Myers-Briggs personality type is this: what if I do both?

The answer? Everyone does both. 

But it takes a little more explanation to understand why, according to Myers-Briggs personality theory, ambiverts don't exist but we all have some Introverted and some Extraverted preferences. 

Personality preferences, like Extraversion and Introversion, are often compared to being right or left-handed. It's something that's hardwired into your brain. But just because you're right-handed, that doesn't mean your left hand is useless. In fact, you could even practice using your non-dominant hand enough to become ambidextrous. However, that takes practice. 

Similarly, whether you prefer Extraversion or Introversion, as you've grown in your own personal development you've learned skills that help you better function in the world. Those include developing your Extraverted preferences (if you prefer Introversion) and developing your Introverted preferences (if you prefer Extraversion). 

Another mistake commonly made around this question is thinking of your preference in one specific area of your life. At work, maybe your behaviors are very introverted. Perhaps you work with a lot of really outgoing, gregarious folks and even though you get your energy from being around people, they're obviously the ones with the extraverted preferences and you in turn would describe your behavior as introverted. 

When you first take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you should try to take it as your "shoes-ff self." That's your most authentic self if you had no one else to answer to, no one else to influence your behavior and no expectations to answer to. If you instead are thinking about acting one way at work but another way with your family, you're probably not going to get the best result. 

Many people also wonder if your MBTI type can change over your lifetime. If the above hasn't answered that question for you, check out the short animated video here and listen to a deeper explanation by MBTI expert Dr. Rachel Cubas-Wilkinson in her video here

Now, back to ambiversion. In addition to preferences, it's important to understand personality type theory a little deeper and know that Extraversion and Introversion are really more verbs than nouns. Yes, your four letter type includes either an E and an I, however type dynamics is how those four preferences of your personality type work together. No matter our preferences, we all extravert some part of our personality and introvert some other part of our personality. 

So ambiverts don't exist because you can't prefer both Extraversion and Introversion - one is always going to be stronger than the other. However, you can and do use both preferences every single day.

(Feeling a little TL:DR? Watch this 2-minute video.) 

 

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