Hello everyone! Today I introduce you “A Voyage into Mind”, a cycle of articles revolving around the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator axes. This first article is on the Introversion/Extraversion axis, and focuses on how differently the two types generate resources and interact with their inner and outer world.
Intraversion and Extraversion: Our Attitude Towards the World
In “Psychological Types”, Carl Gustav Jung defines Introversion and Extraversion as different approaches in how we acquire information from the outer world (through Perception or Intuition) and in how we evaluate that information (through Thinking or Feeling). As an approach, it defines two strategies per each function we use to interact with experience and to understand it.
To keep this simple, let’s say that our inclination towards Intraversion or Extraversion defines how we interact with the world.
According to Jung’s theories, the Introvert see the outer space as “different from him”, therefore potentially dangerous, while the Extravert tries to transform the outer world into something that is kindred to him, therefore less worrying.
These attitudes incentivise the Introvert to satisfy his needs by his own to keep safe, while pushing the Extravert out in search of new links, to make the world a safer place.
Safety is, indeed, by all means our main istinctive priority besides from breathing, eating and reproducing, and Intraversion or Extraversion define how we can properly satisfy it while gathering the resources we need to keep going.
Having reason as our most powerful tool to understand and control our surroundings, though, these mechanisms apply to our everyday life integrating with its conclusion, and as a driver for choice, instead of a rigid criterium.
Comfort: how Intraversion and Extraversion Come into Play
Comfort is a feeling that arises when we feel secure. We’ll see when an Introvert and an Extravert feels comfortable, and when he feels challenged by the world, thus tense and worried.
An Introvert feels comfortable when his personal space is respected: the world around him is not invading his own, and this mean that he can decide when it is the right time to bring something in their sphere, carefully understand it, and finally include it in as a new element of their micro-cosmos. I’d say that when an Introvert gives his energy to someone, it is indeed a great gift, for two reasons: first, he is the producer of his energy, he spents lots of effort to create that energy, and he’s giving it to another being which he still feels as different from himself – therefore he has small guarantee that he’ll return the given energy! – and second, he’s keeping someone inside their sphere, they are seeing something different and potentially dangerous as worth of their attention and care – which I feel being a wonderful kind of warmness.
An Extravert, on the other side, feels comfortable when he feels the outer space is near him: he strives to interact with many people, to expand his horizon while giving as much as he can to make the receivers happy, grateful, and willful to give back. When other people keep the distances, isolates them, decide that interaction with them is not worthwhile, Extraverts feel cornered and menaced: while being still able to produce energy, their energy is not going anywhere, the “coldness” of the world around them is unbearable, and their warmth is wiped out. Note that Introverts are much more screened from “the coldness of the void”, and can produce energy by their own through much more ease. Furthermore, an Extravert needs more interaction to keep warm: a great effort in giving by an Introvert can seem a little one for an Extravert.
This means that Introverts risk to be seen as “cold” by the other (energy-needing) side, while Extraverts can be seen as “scorching” by their (space-needing) counterpart.
Case wants that I’m playing with a space strategy game these days, therefore I’m using this game as a metaphor for the next section, to further look into these two roles and their interactions.
Cruel Invaders and Selfish Producers: a Space War-Game Metaphor
In this game you are a space emperor, you have some planets in a universe made of galaxies, where each galaxy is made of plenty of solar systems. Your aim is develop your economy, researches and fleet. To reach these aims, you need resources. You can obtain resources only by two means:
- from your planets, through mining;
- from other willful players that decided to help you grow (or exchange some kin of resource with another);
- from other players, through breaking into their defences and their fleet, plundering their planet.
A fleet is made of cargoes and battleships, while defences are made of effective, static ground forces that can counter an attack.
To increase your points and improve your rank, you can follow, basically, three styles of play:
- “Turtle”: you focus on mines and defenses, sheltering in your planets and hoping that no other player can overcome them to plunder your goods. You do like commerce and gifts, of course, but you are self-sufficient the most time, and like to be undisturbed;
- “Raider”: you attack planets from which the effort made to shatter its defenses is convenient in relation to the amount of resources you can plunder from that planet;
- “Fleeter”: you build giant fleets and gain resources just by destroying everything you encounter and gathering the consequent debris fields.
While playing the game, I started as a shy Turtle, and tried to create some connections around me through creating an Alliance. After some time, I developed my researches and had the resources to build some fairly useful fighting ships. Then, I found some weak planets around me, and attacked them. Some were defenseless, so I just sent my cargo to plunder their resources, while others had fairly weak defensive structures, which I destroyed with my rather small army. In this case, my loot was greater, and my satisfaction was greater, though I felt sorry for the attacked player and sent a message in which I said him that if he accepts to join my alliance I’m going to give him some resources back. After a while, my main planet’s defensive structures got crashed by a bunch of missiles, and a stronger enemy fleet took out mine and plunder my resources. After that, I’m rebuilding a good defense, improving my researches and aiming to create stronger ships to counter-attack.
While being a game in which combat is the fun part for most players (just developing things can be entertaining, but you obviously feel you’re losing much of the game contents), it is interesting to see that, if you find yourself in a position in which you can obtain a fair income on your own OR a much greater income through attacking others, it is likely that you’re going to convert your strategy and attack.
Now, let’s see this game as a big metaphor: Turtles are Introverts, Raiders are in the mid (they have resources to build defences too) and Fleeters are Extraverts. Everybody is playing a game, and everybody need resources. Introverts invested their resources to improve their ability to gain resources from their planets, while Extraverts put their effort in building fleets to send them out to other planets and gain from them. They also need a fairly strong alliance to grow fast.
The interesting part is: as an Extravert, when the option to gain lots of resources from other presented, I did change my strategy from Turtle to Raider. My Feeling component, though, stopped me by exploiting this without giving anything back, so I built my way of giving back what I obtained from other players (the definition of an alliance, and some other contents).
This happens because of Ethics: in a game, you play to win, because this makes the game fun. If you play to stay in the middle, the game loses its sense IF it is a game in which contents are fairly bare, and with that I mean that the strategic / competitive part of the game constitutes nearly all the game’s meaning. And the game in our example is this kind of game. There was something in me that turned on even in a game like this, and is feeling sorry if you damage someone else: empathy.
The next chapter talks about Ethics, Values and their relation to the strategy we choose to gain resources.
Stability and Values: Reasons Why Our World is Neither Heaven nor Hell
I think that mankind is amazing in how Reason and Feelings interacts. We have an ancient system working to keep us alive, that was defined millions of years ago, and Reason, which came out later, that is the ability to remember, to understand and to give meaning to things. While I think the use of “good” and “bad” in Ethics can be problematic, I do think that Values are wonderful to be seen in act: they give depth to our characters, and a strength that can build wonderful artifacts. Values are the point in which our Reason and our Feelings meet: we want to reach goals basing on what our ancestral system needs, but can orchestrate them to reach goals that can help us and others to improve our knowledge of the world, and our peace and prosperity. This is, though, contents for another article, so let’s get back to our business!
Need makes a person unstable, because it makes him lunge to bridge the gap between discomfort and safety. Values tells what a person should and shouldn’t exploit to bridge that gap. Stability helps the person to be objective, and feel that he can easily bridge the gap without damaging others.
Let’s see how both Introvert and Extravert people change their approach when they are stable, normal or unstable.
- Stable Introversion: the person is aware he can do well by himself and doesn’t ask resources from unwillful people by any mean. He also understands that not everyone is a danger, so he warmly welcomes people in his world after having understood them. Being an effective producer, whose energy is not cut by his fears, he can also give parts of his resources to others. He also has the ability to receive from others, especially the ones that he has hosted inside his sphere.
- Normal Introversion: the person can answer to his energy request. He usually is sceptic to interaction with others, and sees anyone as a menace. He does open his doors to the ones that have the kind attitude to interact with him, though. His fears are cutting his energy, because they demand attention and effort to keep the screens up, so he cannot always give much of what he produces.
- Unstable Introversion: the person cannot answer his energy request, so he depends on others. Being introvert, he needs aliases to interact with others, which can protect him by being invaded. He can be deceitful by any mean, and aims to plunder resources from others by “trapping” them in his sphere. He seldom give anything, and when he does, it is aimed to be an allure to call resource-givers in his web.
- Stable Extraversion: the person is aware that he needs others to “break even”, but he’s not asking anything from anyone: he just gives his best to other people, and also knows how to give without being obnoxius. He’s kind as a spring sun, and is able to produce energy from lots of people, even for Intraverts who decide to accept him. He knows that he needs resources for himself too, and has no problems to take his share because people that benefit from its energy usually gives something back to him too, and he needs just a bit from each one, because he has a lot of contacts. Even when having lot of “backers”, he values gifts from others, especially the ones from Introverts.
- Normal Extraversion: the person is aware he needs others, and relies on them. He does give energy to others, but always expects a return for that energy. When someone can’t or just won’t give back, he feels unaccepted, and could feel resentful. He dislikes the ones that don’t accept him because he cannot establish the “commercial bound” he needs. He dislikes introverts that stop giving, or take him at a distance.
- Unstable Extraversion: the person gives modest energy to others while asking much more than he gives. He’s not able to produce well because fears to be rejected are cutting off part of its energy production rate. This makes him have less connections, and also less aware of the fact that it is not easy to give back when you’re not receving much. Therefore, he can invade the space of others, stealing resources through limiting their freedom or demanding their attention.
As it is easily noted, the Unstable versions both draw resources, while both the Stable ones are able to give more than they take. Stability is indeed a great way to make this world a better one, and also makes our personal world a brighter place to live in.
As a final note, I’d like to recall that we all are humans, and, by that, we all take mistakes and are giving our best to care for ourselves and, when we can, for others. Both Introverts and Extraverts feel lonely or unaccepted and, while we have different strategies to keep up with our lives, we should do the best to understand each other and leave peacefully, gratefully, and happily together.