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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

August 21, 2009 at 3:05 AM

Here is one suggested by member Paul Grant, who was wondering whether there was a correlation between being a classical musician and introversion.

What do you think? And which are you, an introvert or an extrovert?

I can't decide what I am. I took this test twice, and once I was an introvert and once I was an extrovert. I didn't think I had answered that inconsistently, I'd just lost the page with my result! Still, I think that just about sums it up; I'm a little bit of both, though I'll pick what I think I am for the poll!

I do think that something about the life of a musician -- all that time spent in a practice room, perfecting one's music -- can lead to introversion. But at the same time, we play music together, so an orchestra player or someone who jams in a band might be very extroverted. By your own judgment (or if you can take the above inconsistent test if you'd like...) are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you think musicians in general are introverts, or extroverts, and why?



From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 5:07 AM

I only scored 22% introverted on the test--I thought it would be higher.  But being around other musicians in a musical setting tends to pull me out of myself even if I feel the level is above my head.  I've also seen this in some of my other friends who actively pursue musical performance at the nonprofessional level.

Now, how about polling members regarding the correlation between music and analyitical ability (or at least lack of math phobia).


From Fyoder Larue
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Wow.  Extroverts make up the majority of society, but still I figured introverts might be slightly more represented amongst violinists than in the general population.  However, I didn't anticipate it being by that much!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 10:40 AM

 I've taken several different versions of the Myers-Briggs over the past 10 years.  The most recent one was on Facebook, where I came out ISFP (introverted, sensing, feeling, perceiving).  I've also gotten INFP and INTJ.  The only consistent outcome has been the introverted I.  

From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM

I am evidently a "INFJ", which stands for "I never fear Janacek."  

Violinists must have at least some amount of introversion to stand all the practicing! 


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 1:19 PM

 I got INFP again on this quiz.  The "I" was by far the strongest tendency, though, the others, which have changed depending on when and where I took the quiz and what version, not nearly so much.  Musician was listed as a good career for INFP's.

My understanding is that, used this way, these terms describe where you get your energy from, not really so much what your personality is or what you like to do.  

I can be social and behave in an extraverted fashion, and I can perform for people.  It's just that I have to go recharge my energy after that, by doing something introverted by myself.

From Nathan Kroptavich
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 2:26 PM

I thought that the results of the survey would be split 50/50.  I was surprised that almost 90% were introverted.  I wonder what the variation would be for different instruments.  I would imagine that specific instruments and/or instrument families would produce different results.

From Terry Hsu
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 3:57 PM

I'm an ENFJ, but only "mildly" E.

I would believe that string players are probably more introverted than brass players. Woodwinds would be more in the middle.

But I also wonder what percentage of people who spend a lot of time on internet forums are introverted also. :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 6:21 PM

I've taken the Meyer-Briggs test, and I don't believe that it is a well designed test.  On this test, you have to choose between two things.  I often felt that both alternatives were different aspects of the same thing, not two different things.  I also found that I would favor one choice in one situation and the other choice in another situation.  I ended up cheating creatively:  I split points in half.  Nevertheless, the results of the testshowed that I'm an introvert.

A very large proportion of the American population is considered to be extroverts.  We introverts are in the minority of the general population, and I was surprised to find such a high percentage of introverts among v.commies.  There are strong cultural biases at work here.  In American culture, Introverts are stereotypically seen as nerds, egg heads, and people with a lot of book knowledge but no understanding of people or the outside world.  Obviously, this is a very negative view.  I sometimes try to avoid letting people know that I have a Ph.D. for fear of instant rejection.  (It has happened.)  The Chinese culture is quite the opposite.  Education, good grades, and dedication to learning are seen as positive social traits among the Chinese.  Maybe that's why so many of my firends have been Chinese.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Another INFP here.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Pauline,  I agree with your comments about the test.  That may be why I scored so low as an introvert.  But what's that about PhD?  I would think some people might be intimidated, but do they actually believe you don't have people skills just because you have a PhD?  Sounds provincial to me.  What about psychologists?  They often have PhD's but to be a therapist takes a lot of people skills.


From Bart Meijer
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 8:31 PM

INFP for me as well.

I never fear Paganini :) Or PhD's.


From Catie Rinderknecht
Posted on August 21, 2009 at 11:18 PM


I've taken another test and mine came out this way.  it's funny though, I believe I'm more of a mix and then my social tendencies prove that I am, indeed, rather extroverted.  As a result, I voted extrovert.  

From Bob Annis
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 12:36 AM

While those tests are of some interest, the true determinant of intro- or extroversion is basically whether being in the presence of, and interacting with, groups of people energises or drains you.

For myself, I need to regenerate myself in solitude. For extroverts, hanging out with the crowd is energising.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 1:35 AM

Bart, I like your comment about INFP.  The M-B test tells me that I'm INTJ, but I'm very close to being INFJ.  I Never Teach Jazz, although I love to listen to it.  I Never Fear Jazz, either

Francesca, my Ph.D. is in biochemistry, which is not a warm and fuzzy profession like psychology.  I believe that it reinforces my nerd image.  Also, I've often met men who feel threatened because I have an achievement that they don't.  I'm very glad to hear your comment and Bart's.  I'd like to hear from other people on the issue.  You may change my self image.

From Michael Divino
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 2:31 AM

I like practicing by myself, but I like talking to my friend about how my practice session went, or I twitter it; I like practicing in front of the mirror, but I also deeply love orchestra class or quartet rehearsal, and I obviously love performing.

So, and extroverted introvert? I hate the idea of being a solitary musician. 

From Royce Faina
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 2:34 AM

Pauline- Those men that were intimidated of your PhD really missed out on knowing a great person!  You do very well with people skills, at least here, IMHO. ;)  Personaly, I love learning something new.  And it matters not what their gender is!

I'm an Introvert trying to be an extravert.  And I try way too hard!

From Fyoder Larue
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 2:36 AM

Just a guess based on my experience of one university, but I bet you'd find fewer screwballs in the chemistry department than the psych department.  I don't think people are attracted to psychology because they are well rounded, well adjusted individuals. Plus chemistry is pretty much acknowledged as a real science, whereas there is a lot of insecurity in psych departments with regard to their status as a 'science'.  If an entire department could be put on the couch, it would be psychology before chemistry.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 3:38 AM

Royce, thanks for your praise.  It is so good for my ego.  I will keep reminding myself of it.

Fyoder, I love your comment.  It is so true that it made me laugh.  I used to do some research in collaboration with a bunch of psychiatrists.  They're exactly as you described but worse than psychologists.  I collaborated with other mental health professionals along with the psychiatrists.  I used to tell all of them that people working in the mental health field tend to be mentally unhealthy, and they all agreed.

From Kylie Svenson
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 6:22 AM

 INFJ bordering INTJ. It doesn't surprise me in the least that musicians would tend to be more introverted (although I'll agree that the data is probably somewhat skewed. I would imagine introverts are probably more inclined to interact on an internet message board).

Of course, practicing is a very solitary endeavor, but I think there's also something about the way introverts communicate emotion - that is, perhaps we are uncomfortable with doing so verbally - that can make artistic endeavors very attractive. 

Now, what about introversion and extroversion in players who are primarily orchestral players, or who prefer orchestral playing, versus soloists, or those who primarily perform chamber music?

From Steven Albert
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 1:47 PM

The tests once again reveal my extroverted nature.  I would think that people who desire to perform, would have that nature.  Yet, it seems that the board is slathered with introverts.  Who knew?

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 6:07 PM

Kylie, I agree with you that the results may be somewhat skewed because the participants are people who communicate by writing on the Internet.  I read somewhere that introverts like to write, and that is true of me and some of my friends.  It's easier for me to express my emotions in writing (including email and the Internet) than by talking.  Taking this factor into consideration, I'm still surprised that the distribution on is just the opposite from the distribution in the general population.

I know that the M-B test says which professions go with which 4-letter categories.  Does anyone have more information on this?

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 6:23 PM

I just answered my own question by Googling.  The answer on is very long and detailed.  Here are a few associations of M-B type and career from that site.

ESFP goes with, among other things, adult entertainers, photographers, and musicians.  They say,  "Optimistic and fun-loving, their enthusiasm is great for motivating others."

ISFP:  artists, teachers, musicians.  "They tend to do well in the arts, as well as helping others and working with people."

INFJ:  Counselors, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, musicians.  "Blessed with an idealistic vision, they do best when they seek to make that vision a reality."

ENFP:  Actors, writers, musicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, entrepreneurs (a very motley crew IMO).  "Very creative and fun-loving, they excel at careers which allow them to express their ideas and spontaneity."  (It sounds like you have to be a musician who improvises to fit here.)

I've omitted a few categories for which musicians don't rate very high.

It's interesting that the four categories most strongly associated with musicians contain two with introverts and two with extroverts.

From Royce Faina
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 8:31 PM

I'm just a custodian & grounds attendant and the only P.H.D. I have is a Post Hole Digger.  I'm told that there exist a zone where Psychology & Philosophy merge. With no disrepect meant, what I read in the list given, sounds similar to a list of astrology; "Ares are" " "; Capricorns are " " " " ".  I'm leary of illusory corellations.  What other links are there that quanitifies via observation and testing?

Where is Sander (Sandy) Marcus????????????

From Kim Vawter
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 8:44 PM

INFJ--Are we supposed to get along with other INFJ types?--no--too busy reading a book, in the broom closet or practicing the violin. Ha-ha-- 

From Valerie Coon
Posted on August 22, 2009 at 9:04 PM


As one of the few extroverts, I'm curious about my other extroverted colleagues!  How do you deal with getting some serious practice?  For years, I've known that I have to specifically schedule fun things to be motivated enough to work for any length of time.  (My introverted college roommates always seemed rather perplexed by this.  But I needed to KNOW I was going to see people!)

Being married to a 9-5-er and entering "the real world" of teaching and freelancing has made this more challenging, though.  Still finagling how to do that.  :) 

Another thought:  What about chamber vs. orchestral music?  It always seemed to me that the extroverts loved orchestra music and the introverts liked chamber music better.   Just as a general thing, not anything too specific.  I'm curious if anyone else noticed that in music school?

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 23, 2009 at 5:33 AM

OK, after reading everyone else's comments, I had to redo the stupid test to find out what 4-letter combination I was.  (How nerdy is that???)  Also INTJ bordering on INFJ.  Stronger introverted this time but ever since I started playing klezmer and trying to play it with others, I've developed the attitude that there's no satisfaction in practicing if I can't play with others.  Anyone else get that feeling?  It's along the lines of "practicing"  is preparation for "doing". 

I'm embarassed that I sort of, unintentionally started the psychologist bashing.  I've known some of the fuzzy "how does that make you feel?" psychologists, but also some that are serious and analytical and very interesting people to talk to.  That said, I'm a statistician and in grad school we all quickly found out that the statisticians are very normal people while the mathematicians are more likely to be wackos.  (To be honest, there were some statisticians with quirks but many mathematicians who were socially ill-adjusted.)  OTOH, I knew many mathematicians who were wonderful musicians and few statisticians who seriously played an instrument.

Pauline, has anyone, after being told you are a biochemist, stare at you and then say that they were terrible at biochemistry?   Statisticians hear that all the time.


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 23, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Fran, that does happen to me.  Usually people say that they a had hard time in biology or chemistry in high school.

From Terry Hsu
Posted on August 24, 2009 at 3:50 PM


My wife has a PhD, in applied mathematics. I was foolish enough NOT to be intimidated - little did I know!


From Dianne Siebold
Posted on August 24, 2009 at 9:51 PM

INFJ, which seems to be a popular score on this thread. Coincidentally, I have recently been reading a good book called The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 25, 2009 at 8:11 PM

Terry, I'm glad you did what you did and married the right woman.

Dianne, that sounds like a very interesting book.  Can you tell us about it, maybe on a blog or by sending a PM to me?

From Dianne Siebold
Posted on August 27, 2009 at 5:56 PM

I just started the book but in the beginning it helps you identify whether you are an introvert. Then it talks about ways to maximize your potential as an introvert in an extroverted world. The author's perspective is that the world is generally geared towards extroverts and that it's considered a positive thing. Whereas being an introvert is sometimes considered a drawback or negative.

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