Claire Byrne sat down with Mental Health Specialist Dr. Harry Barry and Ann-Marie Creaven from the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick to discuss what it means to be introvert or extrovert.

Ann-Marie got the ball rolling: "Personality traits capture patterns of behaviour that are consistent over time and across situations."

Extroversion is just one of these traits. The big five?personality traits, often referred to as?OCEAN are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These five?traits?represent broad domains?of?human behaviour and account for differences in both?personality?and decision making.

While explaining the key differences between an extrovert and introvert, Harry outlined the big question people are asking themselves now:

"Why did I do so well in the pandemic/lockdown, and now I'm really not doing well coming out of it? And vice versa."

Understanding which of these traits you possess can really help answer this question. The main differences are that the introvert "exerts energy in social situations," whereas the extrovert will "gain/suck the energy out of the situation".

So, while the introvert might really enjoy socialising, they are often exhausted by it and will most times find the extrovert exhausting too. On the other hand, the extrovert will generally thrive and gain their energy from those same types of situations and may find the introvert slightly aloof.

Ann-Marie goes on to clarify: "It's important to remember of course that most people are somewhere in between."

These people are called ambivert and represent the majority of people. But regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert it's highly likely that the majority of us will be feeling anxious about getting back out into the working world.

For the introvert, the thoughts of exchanging their more peaceful habitat for the busy commute, meaningless meetings and office banter will certainly have the stress levels rising.

It’s key to note that while introverts are generally more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, this has probably flipped somewhat over the past year as lockdown really did not suit the extrovert. Harry says:

"We haven’t talked enough about the effect of this pandemic on the extrovert."

The big takeaway is that we need to recognise who we are and how we work. Extroverts have been struggling throughout the pandemic and will find settling back in to work life a bit of a relief. However, introverts will most likely be dreading re-joining the workforce.

Ann-Marie says that "learning a bit about yourself and understanding your preferences of personality is always going to be helpful in managing your life to suit yourself."

- Written by Gráinne Brookfield

You can listen to Claire’s full conversation with Dr. Harry Barry and Anne Marie Creaven by going here.