No two introverts are exactly alike. I’m an introvert, so for me, alone time is an absolute must, but I’m actually pretty social and I get mildly depressed if I spend too much time by myself. Now a new theory sheds some light on how introversion affects us differently. According to the work of Jennifer Odessa Grimes, there may be four “flavors” of introversion: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained, which make up the acronym STAR.
Because we all love a quiz that tells us something we probably already know about ourselves, Grimes and other researchers created the STAR test to help introverts determine their primary type. This test first appeared in the Scientific American blog post, “What Kind of Introvert Are You?”, by Scott Barry Kaufman, the scientific director of The Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kaufman explains, “It’s possible to score high or low on either of these flavors of introversion. For instance, you could be low in social introversion by preference but not be particularly anxious in the presence of people. Or you could suffer from crippling social anxiety, but still have the desire to be highly social. Or any other combination of these four meanings of introversion.”
Here is Kaufman’s simplified version of the STAR test. To score yourself manually in all four categories, head over to Kaufman’s blog post.
Still not certain what type of introvert you are? Or do you think you’re a combination of more than one type? For your reference, the four types are:
If you’re socially introverted, you prefer a small circle of friends. Even if you’ve enjoyed being with friends or family, you still need downtime after socializing. You structure your day so you always have some time to yourself. You prefer doing things alone. Sometimes people get the wrong idea about you, because you don’t talk about yourself much. Thinking introversion If your introversion is of the “thinking” flavor, it means you enjoy analyzing yourself. You have a rich, complex inner life, and you often think about what kind of person you are. When you read an interesting book or watch a compelling movie, you think about how you’d feel and react if you were in the characters’ places. You pay close attention to your inner feelings, and you often step back, in your mind, to evaluate yourself from a distance. You regularly daydream or fantasize about things that could (or could not) happen to you.
If you’re an anxious introvert, you feel painfully self-conscious around other people, especially strangers. When you enter a room, you feel like everyone is watching you. It takes you a while to overcome the shyness you feel around new people. Sometimes you feel so frazzled that you have to leave the group and be by yourself. Even when you’re with friends, you feel uneasy and alone. You worry that your secret thoughts and feelings would horrify your family and friends. Disappointment or defeat make you feel anger and shame, but you try not to show it.
You like to take things slowly. You’re not one to be “off and running” right away when you wake up in the morning. You’re deliberate and cautious, and you think before you act or speak. “Keeping busy all the time” sounds like your own personal version of hell. You often feel sluggish.
My result: “thinking” introversion. But if the simplified test showed more than one result, I bet I’d score high in “social” introversion, too, because as much as I love connecting with others, if I don’t get enough downtime, my cranky alter ego emerges, just like in those “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” Snickers ads.
Image credit: Flickr (Sophia Louise)
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