I talk a lot about the fact that introverts are reflective, introspective and creative. There is no denying that introverts have beautiful minds. But the question is, are introverts smarter than extroverts?
To answer that, we must first address the fact that introverts and extroverts have different stuff going on upstairs.
Introvert brain vs. extrovert brain
First of all, the brains of introverts and extroverts have different levels of activation. Extroverts have a lower level of activation, causing them to seek out higher levels of stimulation to feel alert, and at their best. This is why extroverts tend to be more social. They are also drawn to risk-taking activities. Meanwhile, introverts are more risk-averse and contemplative.
Since introverts need less stimulation to feel engaged, we prefer low-key activities, such as reading, reflecting, or having coffee with a close friend. Sometimes, we might need an extra jolt of stimulation after a long period of solitude. But we’ll usually crave quiet comforts much sooner and more frequently than extroverts.
Why introverts think more
There is another reason our brain urges us toward quiet, contemplative activities. A 2013 study by Randy Buckner of Harvard University found evidence that introverts have more gray matter in our prefrontal cortex. Since this is the part of the brain associated with abstract thinking and decision making, it makes sense that introverts like to think things through before acting.
While our love of deep contemplation is often helpful, it can also be a hindrance, pulling us away from the present moment, and into the vortex of our own cyclical thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts swirl out of control. Our mind becomes our master, rather than the other way around. They say there is a fine line between genius and madness. The overthinking introvert tiptoes dangerously close to the edge.
Indeed, we introverts wear the role of mad scientist and genius creative well. But does that mean that introverts are smarter than extroverts?
Are introverts smarter than extroverts?
The way our brain works makes it easy for introverts to be at home inside our mind. We live in our head, and when our own thoughts don’t drive us mad, we quite like it in there. Our contemplative nature makes it appear that introverts are smarter than extroverts. But that doesn’t mean we actually are. Thinking a lot is different than thinking with intelligence.
One could argue that the thicker gray matter in our prefrontal cortex means introverts are smarter. But there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support that.
My personal belief is that introverts and extroverts are equally intelligent, but we express it in different ways. I liken it to the way two chefs can make completely different dishes using the same ingredients. We might appear smarter, but really we just like to slowly simmer our thoughts instead of serving them flash fried.
What do you think?
Do you think introverts are smarter than extrovert? What differences have you noticed between the way you think vs. the way your extroverted friends think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
“My personal belief is that introverts and extroverts are equally intelligent, but we express it in different ways”. 🙂 Couldn’t agree more Michaela. 🙂 I share the same opinion.
Regarding differences in thinking, one of my best friends is an 100 percent extrovert, so when he manages to convince me to go out on a friday night for example, I need minimum 3 days after that to recover from a social hangover, while he is ready the next day to do it all over again. 🙂 But I truly respect and appreciate his way of thinking, same situation is the other way around. I rarely go at parties and would rather be in a library than at a party, except when it’s St. Patrik’s Day of course, that’s the exception. 😀
Short answer: yes,yes we are! ? On a serious note,I pretty much agree with you on that we are both intelligent in our own ways. I have two very extroverted friends whom I highly respect for their intelligence (among other things),whose opinions I really trust. Top marks for this piece Michaela.
I feel like we both have the same potential to achieve the level of intelligence that we desire. But I do notice that introverts tend to think more rational compare to extroverts. I’m an introvert at heart and my boyfriend is an extrovert. I like to think stuff through before I make a decision and him on the other hand, would rather make a decision off the top of his head. In my judgment, I feel like its smarter to think stuff through than making an irrational decision. (when you think things through, it can also prevent alot of things from happening) Sooo I would conclude that we are smarter by nature lol.
I think you confuse introvert/extrovert with meyer-brigss personalities….let me clear that up. An intuitive is smarter than an sensor, a thinker makes more logical decision. it has nothing to do with being introvert/extreovert…the other functions matter. For exemple you can have a personality type like ISFJ -introvert sensor feleer judger would be more “dumb” than an ENTJ-entrovert intutive thinker judger who makes more logical decisions.
Hi Michaela, that’s a “risky” question! 😛 Of course I do NOT think, that introverts would be smarter than extroverts… no way … BUT: Because introverts normally take themselves more time to “overthink” everything they might realize more, while extroverts already are on the run to the next subject or party……LOL
Personally, I think that being an introvert doesn’t particularly make you more intelligent than an extrovert. For example : me. Yes, I tend to overthink everything but like you wrote in your article : “Thinking a lot is different than thinking with intelligence”. I couldn’t agree more with that sentence. I’m far from being smart… Trust me ! To my way of thinking, this specific character trait, the fact which characterizes you as an introvert or an extrovert has no connection with intelligence. You’re either intelligent or you’re not.
I follow several introvert groups on Facebook, and reading through some of the posts and responses has convinced me that we’re not necessarily smarter. We can be just as guilty of letting our emotions block us from delving deep into a subject.
I cannot tell if my son is either.
It’s hard,because when I see him at a bar he is a talker but then sometimes he tells me he sits in a corner observing people usually angered easily.
He can be very scary at times.
He talks about wanting to just be dead and kill people.
As a child he was diagnosed as bipolar and antisocial. A follower. He got into lots of trouble. He is 34 now and is an overthinker.
Has trouble getting and keeping jobs.
Uit going to counseling but when he was going he always never took his medication correctly.
I’m always concerned about him
Well,I agree with you whatever you had written above..
And as you said there’s a difference between thinking a lot and thinking smartly and it’s correct. I am an introvert and I felt many times,although my friends keep on telling me that I am super intelligent,I usually take more time in thinking and analysing any kind of situation and I have always wanted to tell them that I am kinda stubborn and they also got lot of brain. ?
I’m an introvert and I have many friends who criticize me for being antisocial without really knowing what it means. I agree that you can’t judge intelligence by personality but I do notice that some of my friends who are extroverts tend to say things without really thinking it through first, thus sounding less intelligent. Once they’ve said what they’ve had to say they’re onto a new topic while an introvert such as myself will take more time to process the conversation.
Introverts are smarter, of course, I mean look at this world, it would be a much better and more civilized world without extroverts, have you ever seen an extrovert say something stupid, act stupid, get aggressive at someone and hurt them just because they’re mad, be rude? introverts are rarely rude and usually don’t like to make fun of people, I mean the best president of USA was an introvert, Abraham Lincoln, Most intelligent people on this planet were introverts, Einstein, Newton, Tesla, Mozart, you gotta admit it…
I think introverts are more intelligent not because I am one but because we learn alot by merely observing and analysing and do not speak much like extroverts who are more verbal and show off their intelligence through words and speeches than actions!!! I have also observed that they regard us introverts as dull and unintelligent as we don’t act or react on impulse but do so, so slowly that leaves them often surprised as they don’t expect us to behave that way!!! So, in a way introverts are more intelligent and extroverts are proved fools as they get surprised at our reactions which are slow and unexpected. Moreover introverts can pretend to be extroverted but extroverts can’t. So doesn’t that give us an edge over them???
I don’t think we are more intelligent but I do think that we generally are more rational and notice more. From my observation this leads to a higher tolerance level and more kindness – or at least that’s the case within my group of acquaintances. It can be so frustrating trying to explain basic human nature to “in” people (extroverts) because they simply don’t have the patience to observe and reflect – and they seem to not even want to
I wholeheartedly agree with all that you said. 🙂 All of u have helped me in one way or another. Keep up the good work with all of these conversations. U never know who they will help someday.
I generally consider myself more extraverted than introverted (although I sometimes fall on the dividing line), but I would agree that introverts tend to THINK more before they TALK, or think more before sending an email or text message, which leads to the impression that they are more intelligent. I.e., an extravert may say the first thing that comes to mind, whereas an introvert is more likely to ruminate on it. HOWEVER, the baseline of intelligence seems very similar to me — as a lawyer, I know many extremely intelligent attorneys who fall on the extravert side of the spectrum (often trial lawyers). I also know many intelligent introverted attorneys, who tend to do more in-house or appellate work (not trials).
The question should be I think approach in a pragmatic way, not an absolute way
In that perspective, you asked your question wrong: in what ways, contexts, aspects are introvert/extrovert smarter than extrovert/introvert?
is by its own mean if formulation alot better way to stimulate reflexion
Introvert are I think great to think in complex ways, so in analytic and decision making context I woukd rely more on them
Extrovert, liking to take risk, are better in context recquiring fast decision making such as emergency-related professions/working with turbulent people/any job recquiring physical attribute that can stimulate their reward circuits
Problems arise when fast decision-making-black & white thinker-reward-circuit-junkie such as Trump takes control over a nation, instead of complex thinker able to get closer to seeing the whole picture
I would also suggest to talk more in term of tendencies than persons when labelling introvert/extrovert; from a pragmatic approach once again, I think it stimulate reflexion more and focus more on context wjere one or the other appears
Otherwise, the effect of such labelling might induce some of us to *force* to be more introvert, as a confirmation bias which might not be in our own interest
What do you think?
The percentage of highly gifted children who are introverted is nearly double that of the general population. Their greater natural cortical arousal would allow better neural connections to develop when they’re infants. Thus introverts are smarter on average.