Breaking Down the 4 Types of Introverts: Restrained, Social, Anxious, and Thinking
There are 4 types of introverts. Some prefer to stay at home and read a book, while others enjoy being around crowds of people.
How do you know what type you are? There are 4 major types of introverts: Restrained Introvert, Social Introvert, Anxious Introvert, and Thinking Introvert.
Note: these types are different from the famous MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) types, which you can read more about here.
In this article we will break down each type (including some common traits and tips for each type) so that you can identify your personality type as an introvert!
Where do the 4 Types of Introversion Come From?
Jonathan Cheek, a professor of personality psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas has done significant research on personality types.
His work includes the famous MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) as well as his own studies and articles about introverts and introversion.
Cheek's theory is "that all people have one basic type of introvert they are most comfortable with."
He also claims that these four types meet everyone's needs:
- Restrained Introvert, or restrained introversion, for those who prefer to stay home;
- Social Introverts, or social introversion, for more social situations;
- Anxious Introvert, or anxious introversion, for those seeking peace and less interaction;
- Thinking Introvert, or thinking introversion, because we need time to think too!
If you know what your most dominant trait is then look below to see which category it falls under.
#1. The Social introvert
The social introvert is the type of introverts who only feels comfortable around a small group of people.
They are often seen as outgoing and friendly, but they don't necessarily enjoy large crowds or parties where there could be many new faces to remember.
They prefer being in charge because it gives them an opportunity to observe others without feeling pressured by constant interaction.
When they talk with someone one-on-one, their voice may seem louder than normal because that's when their anxiety levels go down."
What makes this type unique is that even though they can feel anxious at times, if you're not getting involved on a deeper level then it will calm down after some time," Cheek says. "It's about how much pressure we put on ourselves to be someone we're not."
Common traits and habits about social introverts:
- They may feel drained after social interactions, or around too many people
- Get exhausted in large groups
- May enjoy smaller gatherings like having only one friend over at a time
- Don't always want to be the center of attention, opting instead for quieter atmospheres and small group settings.
- They're usually introspective and intellectual in nature; they take their own thoughts more seriously than what others think of them.
This can make it difficult for social introverts to focus on listening when talking with someone else because they are focusing intently on how what they say will come out. Social introverts also do not react well to criticism from peers because it isn't coming from an authoritative figure.
Some self-care tips for social introverts:
- When you feel overwhelmed, take a long walk outside. The fresh air will help relax your mind and body
- Keep the number of people in any given situation to a minimum; this may mean only having one friend over at once instead of inviting them all for dinner
- If it's not possible to limit the number of participants then try sitting down when interacting with someone so as not to feel pressure from standing or hovering around them constantly
- Allow yourself an escape route out whenever you can without feeling rude about leaving early!
#2. The Thinking introvert
The 2nd type of introverts are the thinking introverts are the brainiacs of introversion.
They're intelligent and thoughtful, but that doesn't mean they don't want to be social sometimes too! Thinking introverts like having people around them so long as it's in a small group setting or one-on-one.
In large groups, they get overwhelmed by sensation input from all directions. This type also tends to have trouble with big parties because there is just too much going on and not enough solitude for them to recharge their batteries.
It's important for them to get enough time in solitude where they can process everything that has happened to them. Without this, they could start to feel like their nervous system is overloaded and in a state of constant anxiety.
Common traits and habits about thinking introverts:
- Thinking introvert types need time to themselves before they can be productive.
- This kind of introvert is more likely than other types of introverts to avoid socializing and people in general
- They spend a lot of their day thinking about what has happened, analyzing events and the world around them. This is because they evaluate everything with logic rather than emotions or intuition like feeling type introverts do.
Some self-care tips for thinking introverts:
- Give yourself time to process what has happened before you go back into the world.
- Find people who are like-minded and enjoy spending time in solitude as much as you do.
- Understand that your need for alone time is not a weakness or something to be ashamed of - it's just how you function better on days where there was lots going on.
- Take care of yourself so that work can take care of itself! Sleep well, eat well, exercise regularly, and make sure to have some downtime each day too. This will allow for more creativity while at work, meet deadlines easily with less stress around them (since they know their limits), etcetera.
#3. The Anxious introvert
Anxious type of introverts can come across as quiet or shy when it's really just their anxiety talking.
They're often quite anxious about what a new social situation may bring, but they usually enjoy being with friends and families who know them well.
Anxious introverts are not easily disturbed by others since they prefer to be in control of the people around them rather than vice versa; this type is also more likely to appreciate smaller groups where you have time to get to know everyone better without feeling overwhelmed.
Anxious introvert types value the time they spend alone, so don't be surprised if they seem to want you gone at some point.
The Anxious type of introvert is less likely to enjoy meetings or social gatherings where there are too many people involved and will need reassurance from their companions before entering a new environment.
Common traits and habits about anxious introverts:
- Like to be in control of the people around them
- Prefer small groups where they have time to get to know everyone better without feeling overwhelmed
- Value alone time so don't always want company
- Less likely to enjoy meetings or social gatherings where there are too many people involved and will need reassurance from their companions before entering a new environment.
- Anxious introverts, according to scientific literature, do not react well with large crowds or being surrounded by unfamiliar faces - meaning that it's only natural if this type doesn't feel as comfortable attending networking events as other types might.
- They'll also appreciate (or demand) extra help when navigating an unknown space since they may find themselves overloaded by sensory input more quickly than others would.
Some self-care tips for anxious introverts:
- Avoid any type of situation that may cause an anxiety attack
- If there is a stressful event coming up, try to anticipate the things you might do if it becomes too much for you and plan ahead so they'll be available during those moments. It will help with feeling less anxious during times when stress levels are rising because you're already prepared for what's happening.
- Do some exercises involving breathing or meditation: this can help decrease feelings of panic while also increasing your blood oxygen levels which will make it easier for your body to regulate its responses (i.e.: heart rate, muscle tension)
#4. The Restrained Introvert
Cheek defines the restrained type of introvert as one who is “sensitive to stimuli and easily overstimulated by social interactions.”
In this last type of introverts, we find individuals which enjoy their own company more than talking with others, but still have a sense of empathy for those around them.
A lot of Restrained Introverts will also feel overwhelmed in large groups or areas with lots of noise like bars and clubs.
This type has been found to be highly sensitive to changes in their environment and experiences; they need time to adjust before they can function at an optimal level.
Common traits and habits about restrained introverts:
- Prefer to be in a setting with one other person
- Need time to adjust before they can function at an optimal level
- Enjoy being on their own rather than interacting with others
- Overwhelmed by any noise or large groups (e.g.: bars, clubs)
- Want to be in the background and not draw attention to themselves
- Need time before they can fully enjoy a conversation with someone
Some self-care tips for restrained introverts:
- Find a quiet place where you can get away from people and noise. It should be somewhere that's comfortable, like your bedroom or a comfy chair in their living room. There shouldn't be any distractions (i.e.: TV playing) because the goal is to find peace and relief while not having anything else take up energy.
- Give yourself permission to do nothing but sit quietly without feeling guilty about this choice of activity; there are times when doing absolutely nothing feels really good!
- Scott Barry Kaufman (Ph.D) has done a 12-minute video on the science of introversion. You can find it here.
- Jonathan Cheek's (personality psychologist) research paper on the 4 Meanings of Introversion can be found here.