Thinking Introverts explained

What is a thinking introvert?

Introversion generally refers to the preference to focus on internal thoughts and emotions whereas extroverts focus on the external environment. Psychologists Jennifer Grimes, Jonathan Cheek and Julia Norem did research that broke introversion into four main types: social introverts, anxious introvert, restrained introvert and thinking introvert. We will do a deep dive into thinking introverts.

5 Traits of a Thinking Introvert

1. They are introspective

Thinking Introversion correlates with Introspectiveness (Fenigstein, Scheier, & Buss, 1975; Guilford, 1959). People who are introspective reflect on their thoughts, emotions and memories and examine what they mean.

Thinking introverts are often lost in their own thoughts, making them seem absent-minded. They are obsessed with ensuring the reliability of their own thoughts. When they receive new information, they will check whether the new data is consistent with their prevailing beliefs and mental model of how things work. If not, they will critically examine the new information and refine and edit their thoughts if necessary.

For example, a thinking introvert may have a mental model that all small cats are black. When he sees a tiny cat that is white, he will have to check with himself why that may be the case, and update his understanding of cats. This is a contrived example, but such introversion can extend to far more complex thoughts.

Furthermore, thinking introverts also examine their emotions in great detail. Whenever an event happens to them, they observe how they feel about the event. Overtime, they develop a strong understanding of how they would feel under different circumstances.

For example, a thinking introvert may feel guilt whenever he says something that hurts someone. Overtime, he learns not to engage in certain behavior.

Moreover, thinking introverts also constantly replay events that happened in the past in their heads. By reliving their memories they attempt to find a pattern in past events, which would give them knowledge to tackle future problems.

For example, a thinking introvert, via examining past memories of visiting a basketball court, may notice that the court is always empty at a certain time, and thus he may decide to use the court during that time in future.

Due to the time they spend in their heads, thinking introverts usually seem absent-minded to others. They may spend less time socializing and spend more time pondering their thoughts, emotions and memories.

2. They imagine themselves in fictional scenarios

Thinking Introversion correlates with Fantasy subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983). The fantasy (FS) scale measures the tendency to imaginatively transpose oneself into fictional situations. When watching a movie or reading a book, a thinking introvert may envision how he would feel or act if he were in a similar situation.

Hence, thinking introverts usually enjoy spending alone time reading or watching tv shows and movies as they are able to escape into a richer alternate reality.

3. They are open to new experiences

Thinking introversion correlates to Openness Scale of the Big Five Inventory (John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991). Individuals which score high on openness are creative, open to new and different ideas, and are in touch with their feelings. Sub traits of openness include imagination, artistic interests, emotionality, adventurousness, intellect and liberalism.

Individuals who score high on openness have an inclination to cognitively explore both abstract ideas and theories as well as sensory information. These individuals typically ace divergent thinking tasks, such as “how many uses can you think of for a pencil?”

Furthermore, open-minded individuals observe information that others filter out. In a study named “invisible gorilla”, participants were shown a video of people passing a basketball and asked to count the number of passes between players in white and ignore the players in black. Someone dressed up as a gorilla is then filmed coming on screen in full view. While most people miss the gorilla, those that scored high in openness did not.

4. They derive their sense of self using internal metrics.

Thinking introversion correlates with Personal Identity Orientation (Cheek, 1989). A personal identity orientation means an individual defines their sense of self based on self evaluation of their internal thoughts, emotions, ideas, beliefs and personal goals. In contrast a social identity orientation means an individual defines their sense of self based on how others perceive them.

As thinking introverts do not base their self worth on the opinion of others, they see less of a need to obtain social status via attending social events and attaining social capital. Hence, they feel comfortable missing out on social occasions to improve themselves and work on their private goals.

5. They have a rich inner life

Thinking introversion is correlated with Rich Inner Life factor of the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (Aron & Aron, 1997; Cheek et al., 2009). People with a rich inner life are connected with every aspect of their inner self. They are attuned to their thoughts, dreams, emotions and goals.

Thinking introverts may seem reserved on the outside, but they have many nuggets of knowledge and wisdom to share. They may have many different interests and spend their time pursuing novel hobbies and learning esoteric subjects.

There you have it, the 5 traits of thinking introverts. Thinking introverts are not afraid of socializing, but rather require time alone with their rich inner world to do some pondering. They should choose careers that reward them for their intellectual and imaginative abilities. They will not be satisfied with routine or mundane jobs. When it comes to relationships, they should find someone who can relate to them on a cerebral level. Are you a thinking introvert? What do you think? Do let me know in the comments.

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