Social and Cognitive Intro/extraversion

This week I’ll be providing some theories behind the popular scales of introversion and extravertion that have been prevalent on the internet and in real life for years. 

In my early teens, I hinged much of my personality on being an introvert (which was further reinforced by thinking I was an INFP due to typing by letter instead of functions). Although it is harmless to not wish to engage more deeply with personality theory than this, in online forums you might come across discussions which mention “social” or “cognitive” intro/extraversion. 

Let’s start with definitions, since I’d like the rest of this post to be coherent for everyone. The popular understanding of the introversion-extraversion scale is as follows: introverts are quiet and aloof and extraverts are loud and outgoing. On a slightly more realistic scale we would have the approach of energy levels, where introverts are “recharged” by alone time, while extraverts gain their energy through socializing.

In reality, the vast majority of people lie somewhere between introversion and extraversion, typically known as being ambiverted.  

In my opinion, the second definition is more accurate to real life, so I’ll be referencing energy levels when referring to the social axis. This “social” axis will be what the majority of people are talking about in casual language, but there is an additional definition which pertains to cognitive functions.

The cognitive axis deals with your cognitive functions and is therefore more black and white. Unless you aren’t sure of your MBTI type, you will have a dominant function that is either introverted or extraverted, representing your primary method of “communication” with either the internal or external.

Some people might insinuate that an individual’s social axis will dictate your dominant cognitive function, or vice versa, but I feel like that is too strict of a definition. This is especially true given that the social axis doesn’t have a strict definition, and many popular interpretations peg most people as ambiverted anyway.

For example, an ESTJ (Te-Si-Ne-Fi) will always lead with extraverted thinking (Te), making them cognitively extraverted. This hypothetical person could be introverted, extraverted, or ambiverted by the social frameworks definitions, but cognition only has a marginal impact on the social axis. 

I hope that this inspires you to think more deeply about your preconceived notions around intro/extraversion when trying to type people and characters. Someone being withdrawn and traditionally introverted doesn’t bar them from being an EXXX, and the same goes for introverted types. 


  • April 15, 2023
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