Ambiverts; The Best of Both Worlds

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? A question that we frequently ask others and ourselves. We often think that you can only be one or the either. But did you know? Everyone possesses a little bit of both. Introversion and extroversion extend to various degrees in each person. More than often, one dimension is more prominent or dominant than the other.

The term introvert and extrovert were first coined by famous psychologist Carl Jung who described introversion and extroversion as being dimensions that exist on opposite end of a person’s personality. Essentially, they’re two sides of the same coin. A rather wide coin.  

An introvert’s interest is directed internally in which their energy and attention is focused on their inner mental state and self-reflection. Extroverts on the other hand, invest their time and energy in their external environment and the people around them, often thriving in such situations. Typically, introverts drain themselves during social interaction while extroverts become more spirited around others and vice-versa.

Basically, the two constructs exist on a continuum, in which individuals can lean towards one side or the other. Over time, news and media outlets have popularized the concept that introversion and extroversion are separate personality constructs with unique characteristics. The truth is far from that, in which most individuals often lie in between, exhibiting in what is known as an ambiversion. 

Ambiverts are individuals that are neither introvert nor extroverts. Their attitudes and behaviors can alter between that of an introvert or an extrovert. Which personality dimensions they tend to exhibit usually depends on the situations and circumstances they find themselves in. Such as mood, goals, social settings, and the people around them. So, what does it mean to be an ambivert? 

Conklin (1973) posits that ambiverts possess the most ‘healthy minds’ as they possess the flexibility to adapt to any situation which typically favor either introverts or extroverts. For example, they’re able to work alone and make quiet astute observations yet able cooperate and communicate effectively within a group. The qualities of ambiverts help make up for typical weaknesses that introverts or extroverts have in specific situations. Ambiverts are also generally possess lower levels of neuroticism than introverts and extroverts. It can be said ambiverts are more tolerant of conflict and uncertainty given their ability to adapt adequately in any situation or conflict. They make excellent mediators at the workplace or home as they understand both an introvert’s or extrovert’s perspective and viewpoints. Ambiverts also exhibit greater selective attention to auditory stimuli, enabling them to pick up crucial information faster (Georgiev, Christov & Philipova, 2014). Hence, making them effective decision makers with their ability at extensive thought and foresight while at times able to make rapid decisive actions in uncertain situations. 

Some research has indicated that ambiversion can and should be considered as another personality construct in extension to Jung’s theory. Research has also revealed differences in cognitive and sensorimotor processing in ambiverts when compared to extroverts or introverts. Ambiverts were found to be of lower risk of cognitive impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than introverts and extroverts. Ambiverts with moderate extroversion have also shown improved results on verbal and performance measures of the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (Stough, Brebner, Nettelbeck, Cooper, Bates, & Mangan, 1996).

Given that introversion, ambiversion and extroversion are traits that exist on a spectrum, it’s highly possible for any one of us to adjust or develops skills from the opposite spectrum. In fact, pushing oneself outside of their usual comforts might be for the better rather than worse. An introvert can expand his capacity for social interaction and effective teamwork by engaging in public speaking or teambuilding exercises. Alternately, an extrovert can practice reflective exercises such as mindfulness and journaling to gain better grasp of their inner self as well as learn to survive feelings of isolation and loneliness. Active approaches such as theses lead to more positive outcomes for introverts and extroverts alike. Regardless on where you fall on the introversion-extroversion spectrum, you can still practice opposite spectrum behaviors and fare better in situations that would otherwise limit or tire you. Where else, if you’re a natural ambivert, you can enhance your already existent introversive and extroversive abilities to thrive in your work, home, and relationships. Practice makes perfect.


Ambiversion as an independent personality characteristic - Personality and risk of cognitive impairment 25 years later - Ambiversion: Characteristics of Midrange Responders on the Introversion Extraversion Continuum - Extraversion – Introversion: what C.G. Jung meant and how contemporaries responded - Introvert vs Extrovert: A Look at the Spectrum and Psychology - Introvert, Extrovert and Ambivert -