Episode #6 of the course Introduction to personality psychology: The Big 5 traits by Dr. Daniel McGrath
Welcome back! In today’s lesson, we are going to focus on the trait of extraversion. Statements that describe extraversion are:
• I am skilled in handling social situations.
• I warm up quickly to others.
• I don’t mind being the center of attention.
Agreeing with these statements indicates that you may lean toward being more extraverted, while disagreeing may indicate that you are more introverted by nature.
The trait of extraversion is most associated with being sociable and assertive and having positive emotions.
Extraversion has been found to be quite stable over the life course. For instance, after the age of 30, extraversion scores change very little on average. Early in life, women often display higher scores, but this difference begins to even out as they age. These early gender differences have been found to be quite nuanced when the trait is broken down into smaller parts called facets. That is, some facets of extraversion differ between men and women. For example, women are found to have higher levels of warmth, gregariousness, and positive emotions. Men, on the other hand, have been found to be higher on excitement seeking and assertiveness.
Being High on Extraversion
People high on this trait frequently seek out social stimulation. They love to be around other people and are more comfortable with people than being home alone. Extraverts enjoy being the center of attention, and other people see them as being the life of the party. In terms of career choices, individuals high on this trait gravitate toward careers that have a great deal of social interaction. For instance, if you think of individuals who are great salespeople, they enjoy being around others and their high degree of extraversion is often an important factor in their success.
There are many benefits of being extraverted; however, there are also a few downsides. For instance, being highly extraverted is associated with risky decision making, their stronger social skills can also lead to riskier sexual behavior, and they often don’t do as well in academic settings that require large amounts of studying, concentration, and alone time.
Being Average on Extraversion
Most people fall in between the two poles on the extraversion scale. These people are sometimes referred to as being ambiverts. For people in the average range, they are more easily able to have a foot in both camps. That is, depending on the situation, they can easily change their degree of sociability. They may be comfortable at parties and social situations and enjoy them yet don’t feel the need to be the center of attention. Likewise, they can equally appreciate alone time and staying in instead of going out.
Being Low on Extraversion
On the other end of the spectrum are people who score low on extraversion, more commonly known as introverts. In many ways the opposite of extraverts, introverts are more comfortable on their own. Individuals low on extraversion are often perceived to be much more subdued and lack the energy of those high on extraversion. In reality, these people likely just require less stimulation. They are also more likely to build more meaningful friendships, albeit with fewer people, while those high on extraversion may have a greater number of casual acquaintances. Subsequently, introverts can be seen as being more genuine and interested in others.
Academically, people low on extraversion may have a more natural inclination for success. For instance, these individuals are able to sustain their attention for longer periods of time on important components such as reading and studying. Unsurprisingly, being low on extraversion is associated with careers that often require alone time and diligent focus. For example, accountants, statisticians, programmers, and mechanics all have careers associated with low extraversion. This is the one trait in which there are definite pros and cons to being on either end of the spectrum.
Today’s Task: When asked, many people say they would like to increase their levels of extraversion and be more social. Here are challenges associated with extraversion that you can implement in your life:
• Strike up a conversation with a cashier at a store.
• Find a club you would be interested in, and attend one meeting.
• Go to a public place, and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we are going to discuss the trait of agreeableness. See you then!
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