What is an ambivert?
You probably know what extroverts and introverts are, but there’s a third type of personality: the ambivert. Think of ambiverts as a mix between the two – they’re not as outgoing as extroverts or as quiet as introverts.
“When you look at the continuum from introversion to extroversion, it looks like a curve and bulges in the middle,” says Laurie Helgoe, PhD, a clinical psychologist and the author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. “Most people live in the middle, and the ones who really don’t seem to lean over one side or the other and kind of draw from both orientations are considered ambiverts.”
Introverts, extroverts and ambiverts
A good way to find out where you fall on the spectrum is by asking what you do when you’re tired at the end of the day, says Helgoe. Do you seek out stimulation, such as by getting together with friends, heading to a club, or going to a party? Or do you turn inward, such as by going for a walk alone? Your answer will give you a clue as to your personality type.
“Extroverts enjoy stimulation – it lights up their brains with dopamine,” says Karl Moore, PhD, an associate professor of strategy and organisation, who’s writing a book about ambiverts. “Introverts love people, love stimulation, but at a certain point, they tip over and go, ‘Enough of that. I need my own alone time.’”
Genuine ambiverts, on the other hand, are more likely to say their need to recharge depends on what kind of mood they’re in, says Helgoe.
It’s a brain thing
Even babies show signs of responding differently to stimulation, and that’s because it may be hardwired in us.
“An introvert’s brain, when exposed to external stimulation, registers more activity. There’s just more processing internally,” explains Helgoe, who is also an associate professor of behavioural sciences at Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados. “An introvert is more likely to kind of go inward and try to process all the information.”
An extrovert’s brain also reacts to that external stimulation, but in a different way: “For an extrovert, there are specific areas of the brain that have to do with seeking rewards in the external environment,” she says. “So in a way, an extrovert gets stimulated to engage more.”
Here are some signs you’re an ambivert…