health

The four different types of introverts you probably weren't aware of.

Let’s be honest, introverts have always been around but it seems like now, more and more people are identifying as them.

In fact, you could say (rather ironically) that introversion has been pushed into the spotlight. However, when it comes to actually defining what an introvert is, things are a little less clear.

Psychologist Jonathan Cheek and his research team have found that there’s not just one way to be an introvert, but four; social, thinking, anxious and restrained (known as STAR).

They were identified after surveying almost 500 adults, ranging from 18 to 70 years-old and asking them things like their preference for alone time or how often they daydream, and are outlined in the Masters thesis of Cheek’s student Jennifer Grimes.

Listen: Making friends when you’re an introvert is hard. Post continues after audio.

The four types of introverts.

1. Social

In the STAR theory, social introversion is the most closely aligned with what the common understanding of introversion is and relates to someone who enjoys spending time alone and “does not find oneself experiencing negative effects or emotions” in doing so.

It can also apply to those who don’t like socialising with groups at all – these would score high in social introversion. The main distinction is that it’s a decision made out of choice, rather than due to anxiety(Post continues after gallery.)

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2. Thinking

Thinking introversion applies to people who don’t hate social events, but are introverted in the sense they are thoughtful, introspective and self-reflective.

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“You’re capable of getting lost in an internal fantasy work, but it’s not in a neurotic way, it’s in an imaginative and creative way,” Cheek explained to the Science of Us.

Think along the lines of Luna Lovegood.

3. Anxious

For anxious introverts, socialising is avoided due to anxiety, driven by a lack of confidence in social skills and feeling self-conscious and awkward when they're around other people.

However that anxiety can continue when they're alone, and usually typified in overthinking and worrying about things that have or could potentially go wrong.

4. Restrained

Restrained introverts are also known as "reserved", and according to Clark, operate at a slower pace, taking a while to get going and taking time to think before they speak or act.

According to Grimes, they "seek to maintain their optimal level of arousal so they can prevent overstimulation and the sense of becoming overwhelmed". (Post continues after gallery.)

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"Additionally, that which appears to be inhibition may be a mere appearance of holding back when one is actually unmotivated to act at all," she writes.

While the theory remains a working paper, many psychologists believe it's an important step forward.

"Many people do not feel identified or understood just by the label 'introversion' as it's used in culture or by psychologists. It doesn't do the job - it helps a little bit, but it just doesn't get you very far," Cheek told the Science of Us.

"It turns out to be more of a beginning."

Curious to see where you fit in? To work out which category you fall into, take their online quiz.

Do you think there is more than one type of introvert?

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