Yesterday I was reading a personality test report (from www.personality100.com) that I had downloaded onto my computer and I came across this passage that explains the difference between how an introvert and an extrovert reacts to situations.
"From the instant an introvert enters the door of any party, his or her brain instinctually becomes highly active. He or she notices who is standing where, who is talking to whom, and the small changes in the expression of the person to whom he or she is talking. When many people are around, there is a lot to pay attention to. The introvert's brain becomes over- stimulated. After several hours, this becomes exhausting, and the introvert's brain feels a slight aversion to attending such activities in the near future. Introverts need a break and some time alone in order to recover energy. This aversion, dislike, or slight fear of social situations is then what people label as a personality trait called 'shyness'. The basis, however, is largely biological - a brain and nervous system that is more sensitive than average.
Extroverts, on the other hand, have a brain system that is naturally less sensitive or stimulated than average. To stimulate their brains, extroverts need to surround themselves with people, activities, and movement. They gather their energy from 'external' rather than 'internal' or self- generated sources. In this sense, too, being outgoing comes from one's biology."
This explains why, when my host talks to me whilst her television is on, I cannot concentrate on what she's saying. Even if she mutes the sound, the stimulus from the TV is still in the room and my attention is drawn to it.
Whew! It's good to have a label for it. I just thought I was odd!
Oh, I've just thought..... Isn't this part of the autistic spectrum? I wonder if people who are autistic have a score of 0 out of 100 on the extrovert scale?
For those readers who are interested, here is a small part of the report talking about how extrovert I am.
Where is your energy naturally directed? Extroverts' energy is directed primarily outward, towards people and things outside of themselves. Introverts' energy is directed primarily inward, towards thoughts, perceptions, and reactions.
• Your score of 30 out of 100 classifies you as 'moderate with tendency towards low' in extroversion.
• Your mix between the traits of introversion and extroversion creates an interesting situation: extroverts tend to be more naturally active, expressive, social, and interested in many things, whereas introverts tend to be more reserved, reflective, private, and interested in fewer interactions, but with greater depth and focus. You manifest both tendencies and often waiver between the two, often for weeks at a time. This makes you interesting and unpredictable to many people.
• While you do have a social side, being around large groups of people tends to reduce your energy reserves over time. You recover energy best by spending some time alone, by having space either physically or mentally. Many people are afraid of silence and of self-reflection. You are not.
• You are observant and perceptive, viewing the world with a quiet understanding. Being so intensively observant of one's self and of others is often an automatic response - you do it without effort or intention. Your sensitivity to many stimuli, then, makes it that you need / prefer to limit your interactions, especially social. You are likely to have a select, small number of friends that you know well, rather than a large amount of acquaintances that you know only superficially.