Extrovert or Extravert (Understanding The Difference)

In this short article, we will clear all your doubts about whether it is extrovert or extravert. Readers will learn of the origins and use of both variants of the word. We will explain what the difference is and you’ll find out if the spelling really matters. 

Is it Supposed to be Extrovert or Extravert?

Extravert and extrovert are both acceptable ways to spell this term. The word comes from the psychological concept of extraversion introduced to the scientific world by Carl Jung in 1913. 

Shortly after that, people started using the word with a ‘o’ instead of an ‘a’. Today, both words are still in use with ‘extrovert’ being more popular in dictionaries and social media. ‘Extravert’ is seen more in academic texts.

The Origins of Extrovert and Extravert

Both extrovert and extravert refer to someone who is socially outgoing. These are people whose personalities drive them to seek outside experiences, more interaction, and excitement. 

They get charged up when they mingle with others and meet new people. Some psychologists think there is a neurological explanation for this. It seems that extraverts or extroverts tend to be sensation-seeking due to their neural mechanisms.

In contrast, an introvert (intraverts isn’t a word) finds the same stimuli too overwhelming and prefers calmer, quieter solitude. If extrovert and extravert are both in use and have similar meanings, why are there two ways to spell? We’ll have to investigate the history and origin of both ‘extrovert’ and ‘extravert’ to find out.

Extravert Came First

The term, “extrAvert” is the original word as it came into scientific vocabulary first in 1913. Extraversion was a concept introduced by Carl Jung as a part of a continuum with Introversion at the other end. 

It was used to describe personalities as they are seen to be lying somewhere on the spectrum. Jung’s theory was that extraversion causes people to seek fulfilment outside of the self and the opposite for introversion. 

After Jung, most personality theories and assessment tools continue to use the term with an ‘A’. Eysenck’s Personality Questionnaire and the more recent OCEAN model of personality also stick to this variant. 

If you try the modern online personality tests that measure this dimension, you’ll only see extravert or extraversion. In fact, all psychology textbooks and professionals prefer to spell it with an a.

Extrovert Became More Popular

Somewhere in the early 20th century, the  term “extrOvert” became a lot more popular. The internet reports that the usage of extrovert started increasing at a rapid pace and is still rising today. 

The majority of dictionaries, whether online or offline, use this as the primary word for the antonym of introvert. They do not debunk the usage of extravert but place it below the definition as a variation. “Extrovert” is  most popular in the USA, leading to myths about a difference in British and American English. 

However, it isn’t so. The alternative spelling with an “O” is used everywhere across the globe in non-psychology contexts. Social media polls on the subject reveal that the masses are more familiar with extrovert and find the “A” incorrect.

Should I Use Extrovert or Extravert?

If you’re wondering whether you should use extrovert or extravert, you’re not alone! Countless people, including certified psychologists, are confused about which one to use. 

Our analysis shows that in technical situations like academic texts and personality tests, extravert is more appropriate. Whereas in pop culture, social media, and blogs, extrovert is a more relatable word. 

But we must point out that it’s not so important which one you use since both refer to the same thing. Like the writers at Louder Mind observe, ironically, extraverts don’t even care about the spelling as much as introverts do.

Difference Between Extrovert and Extravert

If they mean the same thing, why are there two versions in the first place? Shouldn’t one be eliminated from our vocabularies? Well, if that were so, extravert seems more legitimate because of its Latin origin. 

‘Extra’ means outside and ‘Vert’ translates to “turn to”. Since we’re talking about people who turn towards the outside for fulfillment, it makes sense to use the a. Extravert is more grammatically sound in Latin. 

Google search results disclose that extrovert was first used by psychologist Phyllis Blanchard in her paper on Auguste Comte’s personality. We’re not sure why she created this version but she defined it in terms of behaviour throughout this publication. 

She’s mentioned extrovert ten times here and each time, she means the same thing as the word extravert implies. Bottom line, there’s no significant difference between the two and they can be used interchangeably.

Conclusion

In this short article, we cleared all your doubts about whether it is extrovert or extravert. Readers learned of the origins and use of both variants of the word. We explained what the difference is and you found out if the spelling really matters.

Essentially, both words mean the same thing and can be spelled either way. ‘Extrovert’ and ‘extravert’ are equally acceptable versions of the same concept. Though the ‘a’ version came to exist first, the ‘o’ version is a lot more popular in dictionaries today.

FAQs (Extrovert or Extravert)

What does it mean to be an extravert?

If you are an extravert, it means you are positioned more towards the extraverted end in the extraversion/introversion continuum. This is a dynamic measure in personality psychology to understand how people behave in social situations. 

Being an extravert means that you enjoy social interactions, group events, and meeting strangers. Having people around you gives you energy and you feel good about life. Similarly, when alone, you feel dissatisfied and tend to seek excitement. 

As compared to calmer and more reserved introverts, an extravert would not like to stay alone for too long. They might end up feeling restless or even unwell if they do not get periodic exposure to other human beings.

What are the 4 types of extroverts?

Based on Jungian psychology, personality enthusiasts have popularised 4 types of extroverts. These are personalities with an extraverted cognitive function of S/N/T/F, four letters from the MBTI. Putting together both these theories, an extrovert can be any of the following four types:

  • Extroverted Sensing: enjoy stimulation of senses
  • Extroverted Intuition: enjoy delving into abstract ideas
  • Extroverted Thinking: value logic, systems, and are goal-oriented
  • Extroverted Feeling: highly sensitive and people-oriented

What happens when an extrovert is alone?

If an extrovert has to spend too much time alone, they get more and more edgy by the hour. It first starts with a feeling of boredom or lack of motivation. As their solitude continues, they start feeling annoyed and distracted. 

At this point, the extrovert will start trying to make plans and can get desperate. If they manage to get outside, it gets better. But in extraordinary circumstances, like a pandemic-induced lockdown, things can get ugly. 

With prolonged isolation, the extrovert may indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse. Their mental health starts deteriorating at a rapid pace beyond this.

Are Ambiverts rare?

Ambiverts are people who have both extraverted and introverted tendencies. Most people are pretty clear where they stand on the continuum and are confident they can’t change. Introverts can’t even imagine socialising all day and an extrovert’s worst nightmare is being isolated. 

Ambiverts, on the other hand, can be confused about their position till they discover that both tendencies describe them. Ambiverts are relatively uncommon as compared to their counterparts. Some estimates say that only 20% or less of the population are ambiverts.

What is Omnivert?

Omnivert is a term being used in pop culture and is a synonym for ambivert. These are people who can be introverted or extraverted based on the situation. This word is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “Someone who is an introvert and extrovert”.

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