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Are You an Ambivert?


I have always struggled with the question:

“Are you an extrovert or introvert?”

Like most people, I don’t quite fit into either category. In this article and video I want to introduce you to the concept of an ambivert:

Ambivert: n Someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion.

Extroversion and introversion describe how someone reacts to people.

vanessa van edwards youtube

Research has found that how we react to people is physiological. This study found that we judge someone’s extroversion immediately–often based on facial structure. For example:

introvert, extrovert, ambivert?

We can also self-select our tendency towards extroversion. Which explanation sounds more like you?

  • I am drawn to people, I get energy from social gatherings and am pretty outgoing. (Extrovert)
  • It’s draining to be around lots of people. I prefer peace, solitude and quiet time. I usually crave alone time in my free time. (Introvert)
  • It depends. (Ambivert)

I will use the terms as labels for the sake of the article, but let’s get one thing straight:

It’s Not a Label, It’s a Spectrum

Instead of thinking about extroversion or introversion as labels, let’s think about this as an extroversion spectrum:

extroversion spectrum

When I talk about the Big 5 Personality traits I explain that there is an extroversion scale. You can rank low, high or medium. People who fall in the middle of the spectrum are ambiverts.

Why Ambiverts Are Awesome

Many people assume that exotrverts are the best at sales, the best leaders and are the most successful at work—WRONG! Adam Grant, an associate professor at Wharton School, did an analysis of 35 separate studies and found that the statistical relationship between extroversion and income was basically zero.

He conducted a personality survey and collected three-month sales records for more than 300 salespeople, both male and female. The people who ranked right in the middle for extraversion and introversion (ambiverts) turned out to be the best salespeople.

Ambiverts pulled in 24 percent more in revenue than introverts, and a mind-boggling 32 percent more in revenue than extroverts!

Grant guessed that ambiverts seem to strike a balance between the two more extreme personality traits:

“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant said.

1. Are You An Ambivert?

First, lets find out how you rank on the scale. Do you think you might be an ambivert? Or do you know one in your life? Take the Ambivert quiz:

If you are experiencing any issues with the quiz starting, it may be due to a browser setting. Click here for support. 

Click to Tweet: “Heck yeah! I’m an ambivert!”click to tweet

2. Situational Introversion

Ambiverts typically slide up and down the spectrum depending on the situation, context and people around them. I call this situational introversion.

For example, there are certain locations that make me extremely nervous and quiet—nightclubs, rooftop bars and stereotypically ‘chic’ places make me feel super out of place. Whereas in learning environments like classrooms, workshops or seminars you can’t get me to shut up. I constantly have my hand raised, try to make friends with everyone sitting within 10 feet of me and always ask for extra credit.

If you want to master your people skills you have to build a solid foundation.

click to tweetEven with the best conversation starters, you have to be confident to connect.

3. Find Your Nourishing Locations

I split locations into three categories: Survive, Neutral and Thrive. This is directly from Day 2: Detox Your Life in my Master Your People Skills course:

places you thrive

Right now use this list of common places to find your top three thrive locations—where you are your best self and your top three survive locations—where you dread going.

  • Bars
  • Nightclubs
  • Restaurants
  • House Party
  • Board Rooms
  • Office Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Coffee Shops
  • Cocktail Party
  • Backyard BBQ
  • Networking Event

For example, here are mine:

places you thrive

When you know where you thrive you can build your schedule and your time around the locations where you can be your best self.Captivate Use Science to Succeed with People

By the way…get the full list of thrive & survive locations in my latest book Captivate:  

4. Find Your Nourishing People

Who brings out the best in you? People can also effect where we fall on the extroversion scale. Are there people you dread seeing? How about people you can’t get enough of?

Right now, make a list of the toxic and nourishing people in your life:

Nourishing:

Toxic:

See every person on that nourishing list? Text, email or call them right now to get together.

See every person on that toxic list: You deserve to be around people who sustain you. 

Take your life back from toxic people.click to tweet 

 5. The Ambivert Advantage

Being able to balance both extroversion and introversion is an asset. See these associated traits by Larry Kim:

  • Flexible: Ambiverts can typically be adaptive to context and situations more easily.
  • Stable: According to psychologist Hans Eysenck, who coined the term “ambivert” in 1947, ambiverts offer a good balance between the hypersensitivity of some introverts and the domineering attitude of some extroverts.
  • Intuitive: Daniel Pink said that ambiverts “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”

ambivert

6. Amplify Your Ambiversion

Now I want you to leverage your ambiversion! Here’s how:

  • “The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant said. Know when to flexibly use the traits that serve you.
  • I want you to take control of who and how you spend your time. I am giving you permission—you do not have to spend time with people or in places that drain you.

Life is too short to spend time with toxic people in draining places!

  • If you have to see a toxic person—like a family member or co-worker, use time blocking to buffer time with them. If you know you have to see them, be sure to schedule in some recharge time for yourself before or after. You can also have an escape route or excuse ready to go if your time with them runs long. Use scheduling to your advantage by blocking out times and places that work best for your personality.

Remember: There is no right or wrong personality type. The only right thing to do is to live, act and address who you really are. Act on your strengths, purge toxicity and get to know your true self.

Right Now: Join the Ambivert Debate in our Science Playground

Want to dig deeper into the science of Ambiversion? Check out our book Captivate!

Ever wonder what makes people tick? captivate, captivate book, vanessa van edwardsWant to know the hidden forces that drive our behavior? In Vanessa Van Edwards new book Captivate, she explains a simple blueprint for hacking human behavior. In this science packed, anti-boring guide you will learn:

  • The formula for fascinating conversation
  • How to walk into a room full of strangers and make a killer first impression
  • What to do to increase your impact and income using people skills
  • Our strategy for hacking the people code–we call it the matrix (Keanu Reeves not included with each book sale)
  • The art and science of understanding people

Learn the new–science based way for winning friends and influencing people.

buy captivate on amazon

All Rights Reserved + COPYRIGHT 2014 Science of People, LLC

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her courses and research has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. As a published Penguin author, Vanessa regularly speaks and appears in the media to talk about her research. She is a sought after consultant and speaker.


104 Comments


    1. Danielle McRae

      Hey Chris, thanks for the comment! What’s cool about this idea is that it’s not meant to put you into a specific category, but to actually free you from a label. You may naturally be an extrovert (which is awesome), but maybe sometimes you display a few introverted tendencies that bring you to the ambivert level.

      It’s fun to tap into ourselves once in a while to see how we behave. -Danielle & The Science of People Team

  1. Danielle McRae

    This may be one of my favorite posts, Vanessa! I’ve always considered myself an Introvert, but I knew that sometimes, I displayed very extroverted tendencies (depending on the circumstances). I never really liked labeling myself as an Introvert, because people automatically awesome you’re not very outgoing/shy (and I’m neither!)

    This idea has given me the freedom to associate myself in the middle of the spectrum- a really cool place to be. I can accept my natural introversion, but develop and learn more about my extroverted tendencies. So fascinating and wonderful.

  2. Rudy

    Hey Danielle. Get an introvert on a subject that they care about and you can’t get them to shut up. 🙂

    The whole trait thing is just a generality. It should never be used as a definition of who and how we are. The specific circumstance you are in at the time can have you react differently than what a few questions used to pigeon hole you.

  3. anthony123456

    Daniel Pink has written some great stuff based on same research and he successfully destroys the fallacy that extroverts make the best sales people. In fact, ambiverts make the best influencers because they are good listeners and clients don’t want to listen to some bozo talk about himself.

  4. Pamela Sutton

    Vanessa, this is such an encouraging post. I recently took the MMPI test, and scored in between introversion and extroversion, leaning just slightly to extroversion. Although a lot has been written about these tendencies (introversion being the hot topic lately) I’ve always felt that I’m able to identify with both sides of the spectrum. This makes the defining lines blurry but the concept of Ambivert fits this quandary well! Thanks for helping us understand more about ourselves, and how we can relate and care better for the people around us!

  5. Juliana

    Vanessa, this is such an important topic, thank you for you summary and the quiz! I always concidered myself to be an introvert, and yet your quiz has shown me that I have much more extovert tendencies than I was aware of. The whole topic has become very popular in the last couple of years, however I mainly found information on the description of the intovert-ambivert-extrovert qualities. But I hope to find more life coaching tips and everiday practice for us introverts, as I have often had the feeling that we need different kind of advice than extroverts do. Many tipps on improving skills and handling situations were not working for me – although they certainly do work for extroverts. So I am happy to see all your videos on the topic, as they are all very informative. I hope to see more of them 🙂

  6. Thomas Rones

    61… Ambivert, but I prefer the label of Sociopath. I have found that the whole introvert vs extrovert debate is nonsensical to anyone who knows a bit of psychology/neuroscience/sociology because they can simply use what they know to form strategies that frame their thoughts/feelings/actions as they choose. Just writing this reminds me that I need to do a bit of a refresher and implement conscious decision making more often.

    Cool post though.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hey Thomas, thank you for your feedback! I’m curious about framing our thoughts and actions as we choose. Do you have a recommendation for an article that expands on this idea a little more?

      -Danielle & The Science of People Team

    2. Mei Zhao

      Well if you know how to change your thoughts, feelings, and actions, would you be able to decide whether you are an introvert or an extrovert? Or is it that you are born with a set personality of an introvert or an extrovert?

  7. Eveline-Marie Lammens

    I never knew ambiverts existed until now, this makes me sooo happy! I’ve always had difficulties with friends. They don’t get that I don’t like to go to nightclubs etc, and I always have to make excuses. It tears me up, because I do like me friends and I want them to like me. This clears everything up and I hope it will make some stuff easier know I understand myself.

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  11. Rick Leverton

    I always considered myself a sleeping introvert, dreaming that I was an extrovert. Scored 54. I hate labels, but the ambivert definition seems to fit like a glove. I think I’ll wear it for a while 🙂

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  19. Sadeel M.

    What confused me about this test is the being alone time. Because I like being alone, however if I don’t have internet I hate it. Then I become bored and hate spending time alone. I know I’m an ambivert however I’m still not sure about which side I’m leaning too. For now, my results satisfy me, so thanks.

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  21. David Schofield

    Thanks for this Vanessa. I agree entirely about avoiding environments that do not support us. However with regards relationships the internal debate I always have is, although some people can be draining, it isn’t because they have any mal-intent toward me, just that our current personalities do not gel. In which case, should we not be working on ourselves to become more capable of dealing with these people? Ambivert flexibility aside, isn’t personality malleable enough to allow us to make such changes in ourselves, instead of writing off some potentially very valuable relationships.

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  25. Joe McNair

    I scored a 28, which is higher than I expected. My wife got me a t-shirt for my birthday… “Introverts Unite, we are here, we are uncomfortable and we want to go home.” Pretty funny, except I would never wear it out in public.. it is the sort of T-shirt an extrovert like my wife would think an introvert would want to wear….I only wear it around the house but you cannot blend into the background with a shirt like that on.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hahaha, this made me laugh Joe! It’s so true–those types of T-shirts make everyone in the room want to talk to you, which kind of defeats the point of being an Introvert. Maybe you can wear it out on your more extroverted/ambivert days? 🙂

      Danielle | Science of People Team

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  36. Selby

    58. Like all things “human” nothing is fixed. We have a choice to act depending on the context. Of interest here would be the age of respondents; I’m guessing the older one gets the more aware one becomes of not making a fool of one self… age and wisdom, and of course alcohol.

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  38. Jason Cutter

    This is so great, and will come in handy with my coaching clients. For me I have never felt introvert or extrovert all the time. Ambivert is the perfect description, and I loved the nurture location concept. There are definitely places where I rock, and places that I would just rather not be at.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hey Jason, thanks for checking it out! I too, am glad to not be in the box of introvert or extrovert anymore 🙂

      Danielle | Science of People Team

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  40. Agil Ananda Mizan

    I used to think which one is my self between extrovert and introvert, and I always not sure about being one of those. Until today I found an information about being an Ambivert which led me to search more about Ambivert.
    Thanks for giving me this information and quizit, is really helpful (I got 49 in my quiz) . It makes me more confident and know more things I need to do to manage myself. ?

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hey Agil! We’re so glad you found this quiz. I went through almost 25 years of my life feeling confused that I tested as an Introvert, but can be super social and outgoing in certain situations. I love that the option of “Ambivert” exists so we’re not forced into one box!

      Danielle | Science of People Team

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  47. Andrew

    This information is incredibly valuable! It’s good to know I am not alone when it comes to feeling great in some situations and drained in others. Thanks Vanessa!

  48. linda

    my score 54. ugh now i know.. its weird sometimes i like a bitch in the party sometimes i like a nerd who like reading alone all the day. lmao

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  53. MishaLee

    I love that this has been identified. Have you ever taken the Meyers Briggs test and not known how to answer some of the questions because it all simply depended on the situation? I end up getting all different results and still not know where exactly I fit in. This concept has finally solved my issue. The only question I have now is how what personality type am I? I was really looking for a direction with what to do. I know my current occupation is not what I want to do nor does it utilize my talents and interests. So is there more to this idea and where could I find more information?

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  59. Bella Perennis

    I really like it that you break this concept of being either introvert or extrovert. I think this goes for the rest of the big 5 traits too. One isn’t either open or not, it’s a spectrum and a trait can be specific to certain topics or situations.

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  63. Drishti Narang

    The quiz told me I am an extrovert, but I most often feel like a social introvert. Despite enjoying smaller social gathering I feel drained at the end of the evening. Thank you though for enlightening me about the middle ground: ambiverts.

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  68. Bruce Bartholomew

    It’s all really confusing to me ! sometimes i like people, but sometimes i don’t like people. I have friend’s on social media but don’t attract friends in real life. I’m not an attractive person. but then again i don’t think I’m ugly. So it all based on what attitude i have towards myself that day. If you annoy me then I’m going to have a bad day. but i don”t or try not attract attention in a negative way toward people unless i feel trapped or threaten. Hahahah all this coming from a guy who’s name is not really Bruce Bartholomew. lol weird. but i only did that because of Facebook and work.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hello ‘Bruce’! I feel the same way sometimes. There are days where I am the most social person in the world and others where I prefer to stay in my shell. Attitude/surroundings/specific people can absolutely have an effect on our personality and extroversion.

      Danielle | Science of People Team

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