Introverts have been the subject of many misconceptions over time. One such misconception is that introverts are socially awkward or shy, and this assumption has led to a lot of people thinking they’re not very smart.
Likewise, an entirely different viewpoint is becoming increasingly popular — that introverts often have high IQ and are more intelligent than their outgoing counterparts!
So, are introverts smarter than extroverts?
Do introverts have a higher IQ?
In this article, we will take a deep dive into what science has to say about all of this and offer some of our own thoughts on the topic.
Introverts vs. Extroverts – What Difference Does It Make?
Before we look into whether introverts are more intelligent or not, we first need to understand what an introvert is.
An introvert is someone who prefers spending time alone or with a few close friends rather than large groups of people.
Introversion and extroversion are generally viewed as having different characteristics. Still, there is much debate over how right or wrong this is.
In 1921, psychologist Carl Jung proposed a theory that humans have both an extroverted side and an introverted side. He believed that each person’s personality falls somewhere on a spectrum between the two.
While many people can identify strongly with one end of the spectrum or the other, some people fall in the middle, demonstrating characteristics of both.
There are a few theories of why introversion and extroversion occur, but for the purposes of this article, we will look at the most popular few:
The Link Between Dopamine Levels & Extraversion
One theory suggests that our genetics cause us to behave in one way or another.
For example, people who have more dopamine (which research has linked with extroverted behavior) in their brains tend to lean more towards the extroverted side of things.
On the other hand, people who have lower levels of dopamine are more inclined to be introverted.
Brain Development – There May Be More To It
Another theory suggests that the development of our brains is what leads us to behave introvertedly or extrovertedly.
Apparently, the parts of our brain responsible for planning, problem-solving, and other important cognitive behavior are more active in introverts. This causes them to be more inclined towards spending time alone.
These brain parts are less active in extroverts, making them more likely to seek out social interactions.
As you can see, the findings of this study have begun to shed some light on our main questions about introverts and intelligence. So let’s get back to the main question.
Introversion and IQ – Are Introverts Smarter?
Here is the short answer:
No, introverts are not necessarily smarter than extroverts. While some studies link introversion and high intelligence, each person is unique, and broad generalizations are rarely possible and accurate.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the topic for those who want to know more.
First, we need to take two vital things into account when discussing this question:
- There are various types of intelligence (eight, actually!), so it would be factually incorrect to boil people’s intelligence down to a single definition.
- No two introverts nor extroverts are the same. Hence, it would also be wrong to assume anyone is intelligent based exclusively on the personality type they relate themselves to.
Many psychological studies have battled with the idea of finding different strengths and weaknesses of certain personality types.
A few of them have indeed proven that introverts are generally better at performing some tasks than extroverts. But naturally, the same can be said the other way around.
Here are a few interesting ones:
Study #1 – Introverts are better at problem-solving and planning.
A study conducted by psychologist Marti Olsen Laney found that introverts have higher activity levels in their prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for tasks such as problem-solving and planning, which does not necessarily indicate they are more intelligent. Instead, on average, they are simply better at these specific tasks than extroverts.
Furthermore, many other studies show that there is no correlation between introversion and IQ. For example, research done by psychologist Alan S. Kaufman suggests that introversion has nothing to do with IQ.
Study #2 – Extroverts are better at short-term memory tasks.
The second study we decided to include was done by the Department of Psychological Science at the University of North Georgia. They proved that extroverts are generally more impulsive and hence perform tasks faster than introverts.
The main reason for this is the analytical nature of introverts. The same trait makes them better at planning and problem-solving in the long run; they just like to take their time.
However, the surprising result of the study was the finding that introverts made more errors in these short-term memory tasks than extroverts, even though they took more time.
We found this study particularly interesting because it sheds new light on the entire discussion.
Study #3 – Extroverts perform better in learning tasks if there is a reward.
A study from 1995 showed that extroverts are actually better learners, provided there is a reward. We can link this with higher dopamine levels that we talked about previously.
And here is another interesting fact:
Since their dopamine levels are higher, extroverts respond better to rewards, while introverts are more sensitive to punishment!
Now, this isn’t an invitation to start punishing instead of rewarding yourself if you are an introvert. It’s merely a suggestion. (We are kidding, of course.)
So, are introverts smarter?
As you can see — not exactly. Introverts are very capable of being intelligent and successful just as much as extroverts are. It’s important to remember that many other factors are involved in intelligence, such as memory capacity, reasoning, visualization, etc.
So while it is true that introverts can be intelligent, it is not true that all smart people are introverts.
We all have our own unique skills and talents. So while introversion may help one person be more skilled at solving problems, some other introverts may excel at creative thinking.
For that reason, we also need to take into account which type of introvert you are.
4 Types of Introverts – Which One Are You?
There are four main types of introverts:
#1 – Reserved Introvert
Reserved introverts can be shy, but they generally progress past this as they get older and gain more self-confidence. They do not enjoy large crowds or lots of noise and often choose to avoid social situations involving many people.
However, their reserved nature does not mean they are socially awkward. On the contrary, reserved introverts tend to be very close with their group of friends and are generally excited to spend time with them.
They are also usually very creative people who enjoy art or writing.
#2 – Introspective Introvert
Introspective introverts enjoy spending time around others but may find themselves withdrawing into themselves when they are overwhelmed. This type of behavior can lead people to assume that an introspective introvert is shy, but this isn’t the case at all.
They would just much rather be alone with their thoughts than be surrounded by a lot of people.
They value knowledge and often have interesting things to say, making it very easy for others to see them as more confident than they really are.
#3 – Solitary Introvert
Solitary introverts tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from reserved introverts and would much rather spend time with themselves than anyone else.
They often enjoy spending lots of time alone reading or pursuing their favorite hobby. As a result, they are often very dedicated to their interests and are goal-oriented people.
For this reason, they may sometimes seem rude when people approach them because they generally prefer to be left alone.
#4 – Social Introvert
Unlike the previous group, social introverts actually like spending time with others but do not enjoy large parties or large social gatherings.
In many cases, they can be mistaken as extroverts because they enjoy social interactions, but only with people close to them. Still, they would much rather have a few close friends over for coffee than go to a party and may even choose solitary hobbies over social ones.
Introversion & Social Intelligence
As you can see, being introverted does not necessarily mean that someone is shy, nor does it indicate social awkwardness. On the contrary, many introverts are incredibly outgoing and open to social interactions. They are perfectly capable of interacting with others when the situation calls for it.
You can’t assume whether someone will be outgoing or shy just by knowing whether they’re introverts or extroverts.
Another essential thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t mean that someone is shy because they don’t want to interact with others. Introversion and shyness are not the same.
However, some introverts may indeed struggle with social interactions more than an average person. If you are among them, feel free to read our ultimate guide to overcoming social awkwardness here:
While it is true that introversion and IQ may be correlated to a certain extent, there isn’t a single genetic trait that makes introverts smarter than extroverts. At the end of the day, it all comes down to an individual.
Now, we would like to hear from you:
What is your personal experience with people you know? Are introverts smarter than extroverts?
Please let us know by leaving a comment down below!