The Personality Continuum

The Personality Continuum

We analyse, and we analyse our analysis, and we analyse the analysis of our analysis until we stop (because we think that our brains might actually explode) and we say “what are we analysing again?”)

I think 2018 might be the year of “let’s create as many terms to describe people as we possibly can until they all start to overlap and not make any sense at all”. Some are so complicated that we forget how they’re explained or we have to use about five equally as complicated terms to explain them and by that point, is the other person still with you or are they thinking about how much they’d love a cup of tea right now? Of course they’re still with you, you can see the deep concentration on their face, or are they just… nope, they really are just bored to death. 

Skoliosexual, ENTJ, zir, omnivert, eccedentesiast. These are just some of the different terms used to describe people. The last is probably the most simplistic in meaning, ironically. I’ll leave it to you to guess what they mean!

Introversion, extroversion and ambiversion

I was deep in thought one day (nothing new there then), when my thoughts veered onto how we often put things into boxes and look at them in black and white.

I like my own company, I’m quieter than most people (probably because I use up all my energy thinking!) and small talk? Meh, I’d rather not. 

I feel energised when I socialise and I love to talk, but I get tired of being around people. At the same time, too much time on my own drives me crazy. And I don’t have low blood pressure as far as I know (?) (apparently, according to a Japanese study, introverts are more likely to have low blood pressure than extroverts. Did you know that? Nope, me neither!)

Twenty minutes in and I found myself deep into my Google search, wondering how these articles had analysed my personality so well. I realised that what I prefer to do at a particular time, on a particular day depends on my current energy or dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. According to Scott Barry Kaufman, dopamine is generally more active in an extrovert’s brain than in an introvert’s. That’s how we distinguish between the different personality types. For introverts, that rise in dopamine is satisfying for a while and they can be content up to a certain point until they become “overstimulated”. Introverts much preferacetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that increases by thinking analytically, contemplating, reflecting and placing focus onto one thing. This makes sense, I thought. Sometimes, I can be energised for hours while socialising in a crowd and the fun never seems to wear off. On other days however, nothing at all satisfies me more than being in solitude and having time to think, which is when the “overstimulation” of dopamine and my grumpiness (did I just make that word up?) kicks in.

So where do you fall on the personality continuum? There are many tests and quizzes that can help you determine which type of person you are, some of which I’ll leave below. My research has really helped in terms of self-evaluation. It has forced me to think about why we are the way we are and the idea that uniqueness doesn’t equate to being weird. 

If you have a spare minute, take one of the quizzes below and prepare to be awakened. Or maybe not… maybe we should stop putting everyone into boxes, assigning them with labels after labels, and look at things in colour. Let’s all just accept the idea that we’re a very complex species and get on with it. Whatever that “it” is for you, whether it’s thinking more or speaking less, mingling or being in solitude. Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Take the quiz here.

If you’re still stuck, try this one. You might be part of the ambivert army.

Read more about dopamine & acetylcholine levels here

Until next time, 

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