Signalling as a basis for understanding introversion and extroversion

Basing our understanding of human “psychology” on signalling and signalling systems—essentially seeing people as complex signalling systems—can make many aspects of being human clearer.

For example, rather than analyze “introversion” versus “extroversion,” we can use terms that work better with the signalling model—introspection versus extrospection.

Extrospection is a made up word. In this context it means someone who looks (spec, specere) outwardly for the establishment, maintenance, and validation of their identity.

In the signalling model, identity can be defined as “the (somewhat) complex nexuses of meaning/signaling that ’embodies’ our comprehension of the semiotics of our cultures and experiences.”

An extrovert is normally seen as someone who likes people and wants to spend time with them, as opposed to an introvert who prefers spending time alone.

There is probably some value in this distinction. But all introverts know that we also like people and want to spend time with them; the problem is spending time with strongly “extroverted” types is not fully satisfying.

Similarly, extroverts are generally not as satisfied with the company of introverts as they are with other extroverts.

It may be hard to see why this is until we use the terms “introspection” and “extrospection.”

A person whose identity depends heavily on the opinions of others—one who favors extrospection—will tend to spend more time with other people than alone. They will be good at getting along with other people of their type because “extrospectors” value the mutual validation they offer each other.

To a person whose identity depends heavily on introspection, the “extrospector” may be fun to be around for a while, but will probably become tiring because the “introspector” does not want the same sort of validation required by the “extrospector.”

In terms of signalling, the introspector relies on internal signalling while the extrospector relies on external signalling. The introspector can and does enjoy other people, but they are far more likely to be satisfied with other people who share their tendency for internal signalling.

The signalling systems of introspectors with introspectors and extrospectors with extrospectors mirror each other much better than when the two types are mixed.

Extrospectors tend to form groups and have a much easier time finding each other than introspectors do. This is why extrospectors control so much of what happens in the world.

Moreover, extrospectors also tend to base their opinions of themselves and each other on external, measurable things—property, money, status symbols. To the introspector, these things are not as valuable to their identity as depth of analysis, depth of internal signals, depth of communication.

Extrospectors are great and we need them. But if you are not one, it might be good to realize that it is not people per se that you want to avoid, but rather the tedium of extrospectional values, aims, and beliefs.

Find another introspector with compatible interests and you will both become highly “extroverted” toward each other.

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