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Ambiverts Don’t Exist

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

by Danya Do

Yes, I said it. To the people who have even the slightest exposure as to what MBTI is, you’ve probably - ahem, definitely - heard the words “extrovert,” “introvert,” and the dreaded “ambivert” before. Even without MBTI, someone has probably given you the general, most stereotypical synopsis as to what the terms mean, and, in this in-the-moment excitement, gotten you rambling about all of the times you have experienced the similarities between you and your shiny new label. And to those who clicked on this article out of sheer curiosity (or by mistake) without an inkling of knowledge on this strange alien topic: congratulations! You will now be given the general, most stereotypical synopsis of extraversion, introversion, and ambiversion (despite it not existing).

MBTI, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is a system that sorts you into one of sixteen personalities through a questionnaire that is largely based on Carl Jung’s cognitive functions. Now, according to The Myers & Briggs Foundation (yes, this is an actual foundation), “The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.” Some of you will be offended by this because you think you are unique. And some will willingly eat this up in the same way they eat up the strange inconsistencies of zodiac signs. Which, by the way, is not the same, despite MBTI still being considered a type of pseudoscience. Before I get even more off track, you may be wondering how this relates to being an extrovert, an introvert, or not an ambivert. To quickly

summarize, an extrovert is someone who gets more energy from being actively involved and participating in social occasions, while an introvert prefers to spend most of their time in their inner world, which is more accessible alone. Extroversion and introversion are, as reported by The Myers-Briggs Company itself, “opposite ways to direct and receive energy.” So you see, this is where we get to the part about ambiverts.

According to the definition from Oxford Languages, an ambivert is, “a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.” You may think of this definition as perfectly reasonable: a person can have both the qualities of an extrovert and introvert, because you can be 50-50 on everything! Once more, I will backtrack for the sake of the people who genuinely don’t know anything about this. Extroverts are perceived as people who thrive in social situations; they enjoy partying - and are most likely the life of the party - are confident in meeting strangers, and make rash decisions based on their outstanding need to act before thinking. Meanwhile, people consider introverts to be shy and reclusive individuals who hate going outside and can’t interact with anyone to save a life, but are simultaneously the intelligent masterminds of avoiding confrontation and often contemplative geniuses. I’m honestly exaggerating the stereotypes, but these “polar opposite” chichés have had - and still have - people wondering about what’s in the “middle.” Thus creating the type of an ambivert.

I must be boring you since I haven’t actually gotten to the part about how ambiverts just can’t be a thing. Well, if you have made it this far, this is the paragraph that explains it (finally). For the many who label themselves as an ambivert, it is just a way to make themselves seem more special. And before you get offended, I get that it makes logical sense to be in the middle of the two spectrums of introversion and extraversion. Here’s the gist of it; you have access to being both an introvert and an extrovert, you simply inherently favor being one over the other. And no, you can’t choose, since these functions are what come to you instinctively. There is no “middle.” For example, an introvert can definitely choose of their own accord to go to parties, and may enjoy it. However, it will drain their energy faster and they will need to rest in solitude a little bit afterwards. On the flip side, extroverts do need their alone time sometimes, and are not just party animals. Basically, introverts can do extroverted things and extroverts can do introverted things. You are not in a perfect 50/50 between the two just because you have certain situations or people you hang around where you act more introverted or extraverted. If we were to type people by these standards, everyone would be an ambivert. Everything is a matter of intrinsic preferences, and there are a plethora of nuances that decide your personality type as well as your cognitive functions. You may have trouble figuring it out because your preferences are only distinguishable by a small margin. That’s okay. You don’t have to have it all figured out right away and probably won’t ever because personality type websites are never going to be accurate. All you need to know is that ambiverts don’t exist. Google better be watching out right now.

P.S. You may have noticed that I ceased all mentions of MBTI after the boring introductory spiels. The issue is that this article can only cover so much about introversion and extroversion before it gets too complicated. If I were to continue explaining the complex system of MBTI I would go into a ginormous rabbit hole of ranting and nobody wants to read five pages worth of personality types. If you are the few that are interested: you have the entire internet at your disposal to discover more about cognitive functions and MBTI. There are many comedy sketches on Youtube about the 16 personalities (take them with a grain of salt always, because they are satire and often stereotypical) as well as other in depth explanations that are far more credible than a random high schooler who has no life. And if you happen to come back to this article one day filled with the knowledge of MBTI, I am curious as to what you consider my personality type to be. Or if you consider me an introvert or extrovert.


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