Extraversion is a well-researched primary personality factor. This is usually the first dimension that arises from statistical research, called factor analysis, on most personality inventories. At the most basic level, it is seen as an orientation towards the external world of people, things, events, etc., or toward the internal world of thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. People with high scores on this dimension are referred to as extraverts, while people with low scores are referred to as introverts. On a side note, acceptable spellings are extrAversion, extrOversion, intrAversion and intrOversion. We chose extraversion and introversion because they provide a better fit for the pronunciations of both terms.
A large component of extraversion is the need for social contact versus a preference for solitary pursuits. Extraverts are typically sociable, gregarious, outgoing, group-oriented, and expressive. They are not usually described as quiet, low‑key, shy or introverted. They are energized by social interaction and being with people. Low scores on extraversion are indicative of a mild, reserved and relatively unexpressive social style. Introverts can be exhausted by too much social interaction. However, since people in the business population, on average, score higher on extraversion than do people in general, an average score on the eTest personality inventory suggests that the person will probably still seem relatively sociable when compared to people in general.
In addition to the score for the primary domain of extraversion, the eTest profile generates four sub-scores, or facets, related to this factor. These facets add nuance to the overall extraversion score and help predict how the primary trait is likely to be expressed.
- Persuasiveness. This facet score may not be an accurate reflection of a person’s skills of persuasion, but it gives an indication of how persuasive the person perceives him/herself to be. People who describe themselves with such terms as leader, role model, politically skilled, socially astute, convincing and optimistic get high scores here.
- Talkativeness. People with a high score on this scale are not typically seen as quiet, reserved, soft-spoken, shy, subdued or restrained.
- Active Friendliness. High scores indicate that the person will be sociable, talkative, witty, outgoing, gregarious, lively and humorous.
- Boldness. People with high scores on this facet are generally seen as daring, adventurous, spontaneous, bold, driven, energetic and aggressive.
No personality trait is inherently positive or negative. There are potential upsides and downsides to scores at any point along the spectrum. The further towards the endpoints (high or low), the more pronounced and observable the behaviors associated with the particular trait are likely to be. People with exceptionally high or low scores are likely to demonstrate both the positives and negatives associated with the trait. For extraversion, people with high scores are sociable, talkative and outgoing but they may also overstep social boundaries and get bored quickly working in isolation. People with low scores on extraversion tend to be more reflective and socially low-key but also overly self-contained, shy and prone to under communicate.
While we can’t change our personalities to any significant extent, we can learn new behaviors and skills. We can get better at most things given the appropriate goals and the insight, resources, motivation and effort to achieve them. Below are some additional insights for people with high or low scores on the trait of extraversion.
- In terms of career development, you’ll probably enjoy jobs that allow you to interact with people. You may not be satisfied over time working in relative isolation. People in sales, marketing, HR and management are often above average in extraversion.
- Make sure your listening skills are appropriately developed. Extraverts tend to spend more time talking than listening.
- Be careful about coming off as socially aggressive, pushy or salesy. People with high scores on extraversion sometimes don’t realize when they are overwhelming the less vocal or socially oriented team members.
- Try to carve out occasional times for quiet reflection. Extraverts are more prone to seek out high levels of social stimulation and interaction than to quietly analyze and reflect upon their deeper insights, needs and motivations.
- Don't fade into the background, especially in team activities. Introverts are inclined to withhold their opinions and expressions, especially in the company of more vocal colleagues.
- Schedule some time for informal “water cooler” interaction with colleagues. No matter what your job, you will be well served by having a network of coworkers who can offer support and assistance to reach your goals.
- Stretch beyond your social comfort zone. Make yourself participate in such things as public speaking training and similar activities that will force little more contact with others.
- Realize that other people may find you difficult to read. Introverts typically do not express their reactions, feelings and emotions to any significant extent. Although you may have intense reactions and/or a rich inner life, others are not likely to know about it unless you make special efforts to communicate.
Your chances for happiness and career success will increase to the extent that you can make the best use of your natural personality characteristics while realizing when you need to do things differently. If you’re an extravert, do what you can to develop the insight and control to monitor your impact and use your sociability to your advantage rather than letting it overwhelm others. If you’re an introvert, find ways to stretch yourself outside your social comfort zone more often, and learn to turn up the volume. Regardless of your profile, remind yourself that others are wired differently and operate according to a sometimes vastly different set of motivations and preferences.
Extraversion is one of the Big Five personality factors. A large body of scientific research has demonstrated that personality can be well described by five major traits. This model of personality is referred to as the Five Factor Model (FFM). When the eTest personality inventory was factor analyzed in the validation process during its development, these five major dimensions emerged as the structural underpinnings of the instrument. As developers, it was encouraging to see that our work was very much in line with the best research on the nature of personality and reflected these five factors. These traits indicate long-term and enduring patterns of behavior. Our personality traits are remarkably stable over the course of our adult lives. While personality is not destiny, it can clearly affect our behavior and decisions, to include those related to career choices.