Science Says There Are 4 Types of Introverts. Which Type Are You?

IntrovertDear.com four kinds of introverts

No two introverts are exactly alike–what might be too much for one person is not enough for someone else. And we’re sensitive to different things. Some introverts are extremely bothered by noise and big groups, while for other introverts, crowds aren’t a big deal.

Psychologist Jonathon Cheek, along with graduate students Jennifer Grimes and Courtney Brown, wanted to explore these differences. They hypothesized that there are different types of introverts, or in other words, different ways in which a person’s introversion can be expressed. They surveyed about five hundred adults of various ages, asking them about their preferences for spending time alone, how likely they were to daydream, etc. They came up with four types of introverts: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. They named their model “STAR,” after the first letter of each type.

According to their model, a person can be predominately one type (for example, you could be solely a “thinking” introvert). Or you could be a blend of two or more types. Read the following descriptions. Which type (or types) sound like you? Or, scroll down to the quiz at the bottom of this article.

Social—Don’t be fooled. This isn’t what it sounds like. A “social” introvert in Cheek’s model isn’t an introvert who is so outgoing that they can pass for an extrovert. A “social” introvert is someone who is introverted in a social way. It means you have a preference for hanging out with just a few people at a time. Or, sometimes, you prefer not to hang out with anyone at all—people who are high in social introversion like being alone. Instead of partying on a Saturday night, you’d rather stay home and play your favorite video game or watch Netflix. Of course, this assumes that you’re staying home because you have a preference for low-key activities, and not because you’re shy or have social anxiety. Shyness and social anxiety are not the same as introversion.

Thinking—Like the term sounds, a “thinking” introvert is someone who is introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective. This person daydreams and enjoys losing themselves in their inner fantasy world. We’re not talking about neurotically losing a grip on reality, though; this is about imagination and creativity. Unlike social introverts, thinking introverts don’t share the same aversion to social activities that people usually associate with introversion. So, a thinking introvert might hang out with their friends all weekend but then spend Sunday night alone journaling, daydreaming, or working on their graphic novel.

Anxious—While social introverts seek solitude because they prefer low-key activities, anxious introverts avoid socializing because they feel awkward and painfully self-conscious around other people. These are people who are likely not very confident in their social skills. Unfortunately, their anxiety doesn’t lessen when they’re alone, because this type of introversion is defined by a tendency to ruminate. An anxious introvert may turn things over and over in their mind, wondering what could have, or what already has, gone wrong. They may have trouble shutting off their obsessive negative thoughts. They may even stay awake, late at night, playing events over and over in their mind. That embarrassing thing they said five years ago? It still haunts them today.

Restrained—Do you jump out of bed, ready to seize the day? Do you like to keep busy as much as possible? Is your motto, “I’ll try anything once!” If so, you’re probably not a restrained introvert. Restrained introverts tend to operate at a slightly slower pace. They may take a while to get going. They prefer to think before they speak or act. To relax, they like to slow down and take it easy, as opposed to seeking out new or exciting experiences and sensations. They may sometimes feel sluggish and lacking energy.

The STAR model is a work in progress, but it’s an important step forward in expanding the definition of introversion. Interestingly, Cheek and his colleagues believe that the term introversion should never be used by itself. Instead they argue that we should put a specific modifier in front of the word, like “social” or “anxious,” for example, by explaining to a curious extrovert: “Yes, I’m an introvert, but I’m a thinking introvert, which means large groups don’t bother me, but I like having plenty of time alone to think and reflect.”

Want to know what your predominate type of introversion is? Take the below quiz, which originally appeared in Scientific American. Or, to score yourself in all four categories, take Scott Barry Kaufman’s simplified manual version of the STAR test, found at the end of this blog post.

This is an excerpt from my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

 

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.

Read this: The Science Behind Why It Can Be Hard for Introverts to Put Their Thoughts Into Words  retina_favicon1

  • I got Social Introvert, which fits like a glove! Great revelation, thanks Jenn. 🙂

  • I got Thinking Introvert. Definitely accurate, though I know I have strong shades of Social and Anxious Introversion, too.

    Love this site!

  • I got Social Introvert, although honestly they ALL would apply… especially Anxious Introversion.

  • Anxious Introversion -_-

  • Thinking introvert, I especially love listening to music, watching videos, putting myself in the singer’s shoes, and feeling what they feel, are saying, whispering, yelling whatever makes it powerful so that I can relate in someway.. say for instance, Adele singing that song “someone like you”- I imagine myself in her shoes, feeling her pain that she feels/felt with that person, and how painful it was. I don’t understand why I enjoy that, I guess it makes music more rich and complex, and helps me to enjoy it more than most ppl.. I have the “need” to “feel” another’s passions and energy, depression, anger, joy, etc as well as my own & to the extreme. And most of the time I like to make up scenarios to go with the songs/videos. Making it vivid, intense, meaningful, and even awe inspiring. It’s strange because irl I hate to feel bad. And this isn’t like a once in a while thing that I do. I engage in this everyday. Maybe I’m weird lol..I agree that I have all of these introverted types as well, but the test came out with this one as me having the most.

    • judy

      You are weird – but in a glorious way :o)

    • Amanda

      Same name… Same thought process especially related to music. I completely understand you and I don’t even know you.

    • Troy

      I’ve just done the test. I believe I maybe a Thinking Introvert. I too enjoy listening to Adele’s someone like you as well as Gotye someone that I use to know and others, for a long time I didn’t know why. My ex gf would wonder why and i couldn’t explain it, it was like I wanted to feel they pain. I went as far as trying to react the outcome of a breakup just so I could sing the song and for it to have real meaning/so i could really relate! I’m reading this back and think ouch I must sound like a real weirdo lol. Well i guess I wanted to reach out like others and say theres another person out on the Earth thats a but like you lol.

    • Paula

      I got thinking introvert and I completely relate to that 🙂

  • Hestre

    Anxious Introvert. I have been actively learning how to live my life with myself in mind. I am married to the most amazing, caring, loving extrovert who doesn’t always “get” me but we have also learnt to make allowances for the other. Since I’ve owned up to being an Introvert and what goes along with that my way of living has changed slowly and my family and friends keep me in mind with certain decisions and I go out of my comfort zone for them with certain things.

  • Result: Social Introvert
    You spend a lot of time by yourself—and you’re completely okay with that. You are happy with the small group of friends that you have and you avoid large crowds like the plague.
    (…) Sometimes people get the wrong idea about you, because you don’t talk about yourself much.

    Exactly xD

  • Lisa

    Thinking Introvert, closely followed by Anxious Introvert

  • vlbrown

    How about just using the MBTI to find which “type” of Introvert you are (there are 8, not 4), and leave out “anxious” because anxiety is a problem that applies equally to Extraverts.

    Sigh.

  • LB

    Introversion is a matter of degree, and is dependent on a zillion different factors at any given time. Nobody fits neatly into one category. I took this test out of curiosity, and according to these questions, I am a restrained introvert, which is not what I would have labeled myself. According to these definitions, I am more social, followed by thinking, followed by restrained. I have zero anxiety. What does that tell me? That if I took this test again tomorrow, I’d probably end up in a completely different category. We need to stop trying to pinpoint ourselves as one type or another (or even introvert/extravert for that matter, because that’s a matter of degree too). Stop being so rigid and just be who you are.

  • Bb

    That may work alright for you , but some of us feel a deep need to understand ourselves. I feel as if all these introversion definitions apply to me equally, but just knowing other people can relate helps me feel less alianated from other people. I like reading about personality types whether they “pin-point” me correctly or not because understanding personality features about myself help me feel more grounded and less of a weird existence that other people just have to put up with. I admit it, I need validation just as much as the next person, it is hard to admit I need acceptance from my peers, but since I have started studying my emotional needs and tendencies I have learned that everyone is hardwired with these needs and I can accept that it’s ok to have vulnerablities. I feel safer in the world knowing that I’m not the only one with these feelings and tendencies.

  • Social introvert

  • “NEED more time than extroverts to process things”? How about, “TAKE more time than extroverts to process things”? I think this is a false interpretation of what is simply some people’s willingness to invest time in actual thought before making decisions, versus others’ tendency to jump to conclusions.

  • Janet

    I don’t have to take the test, Social Introvert. I don’t even like to socialize with my coworkers as a group. I do have close friends, but of we can’t get together that doesn’t bother me.

  • Sheril

    I got ‘Restrained Introversion’. Odd, I thought I would be a ‘Social’ introvert….I’ll have to think through this for a while 🙂

  • Nadz

    Social Introvert – but what was surprising was all the sharing options at the end of the quiz…hell no!

  • Charlie V

    This information is really priceless for me. I’m a ‘Thinking Introversion’ and all words described above are extremely true, it’s really really really i am… Thanks so much for this priceless information…

  • infjme

    You can be a bit of all of these. It’s a scale also.

  • Katie

    I’m mostly Thinking Introvert, but all of these really fit me to a T.

  • restrained introvert :/

  • Roni Riutta

    Hmm, I really must get to know more about these things. I’am not sure what kind of introvert I am. Quite crazy one ,because I studied to be social worker and be in contact with lot of people.. Most difficult thing in work is to keep others entertained.. One on one talking is easy enought, but to be front of many people and talk is really exhausting and difficult. And being constantly ready to answer the phone. No social aktivities on free time fo me. Reason why I studied to be social worker (Bachelor of Social services) is the strong desire to help others. And reflect my inner world by listening and analyzing other people.

    I have survived my studies, and I have been workin about one year by now. bo tell the truth, I am not sure how I can make it to work like this for many many years to come. I must find the balance between work, rechaging and social life.

    Thank you for this article and thanks for the administers of this site. This site is treasure I found just recently.
    Sorry about my typing errors. English isn’t my main language.

  • I love your blog.

  • I didn’t like this test, and surely don’t agree that there are 4 kinds of introverts because when I read through all of the results, each of them 100% describes me without a hitch. There isn’t one that I’m more like than the others.

  • I’m a thinking introvert but not too far from a social introvert.

  • Carey Hamilton Bracewell

    What Lashantell said fits me. My immediate family were all Extroverts and they wondered “What’s wrong with Carey?” Nothing, And there must be a huge diamond in Jenn’s celestial crown for starting this website that gives self-understanding, acceptance, and Comfort to so many.

  • Esmeralda

    So true! Thinking introversion…

  • Anxious introversion, and it is ever so horrible. I’d do anything to be able to be extroverted but I just know that’ll never happen. I have such a strong anxious introversion that I have literally just pushed away the one friend that I have.

  • Brianna

    When my anxiety is not well controlled, I’m actually all of these at once. My result was Thinking Introversion, which is what I am all the time. I’m also the Restrained Introversion, but that could be because of my insomnia and sleeping issues.

  • Nessie

    According to this model I’m both a restrained and a thinking one. I also have a bit of social anxiety and OCD though o.o lol

  • Cody S Theagali

    I’m the TAR of the STAR model. 😀

  • I’m an anxious introvert because I have things I’ve done 10 years ago still haunting me today. (The test above wouldn’t work for me but I don’t have to take the test to know what I am.) I’ve been anxious ever since I can remember but didn’t realize anxious introversion was a thing until I saw this article. Thanks for clearing this up for me, Jenn!

  • Thumper

    I put the ‘A’ in STAR…. Yea for me?

  • Nessie Dot

    Weird.. First of all, the terms ‘restrained and thinking’ actually are some of the main traits of ALL introverts. So I don’t see why they would categorize them in seperate ways like this. ALL introverts are thinking introverts…that’s one of the most basic traits of introversion. All introverts are also restrained. Maybe some are less or more but this is also a common introversion trait. I kinda find this specific scientific ‘invention’ to be a bit off. Seems like an unnecassary ‘dissection’ of basic introvert characteristics with no purpose.

  • DreamingKoreanBallad

    Taking the quiz I got ‘Anxious Introvert’ but I think I fall under ‘Social anxious’ introvert more than just the one.