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prolificus's avatar

If you're a true introvert, how often do you make assumptions about others and how does assuming affect your perception of reality?

Asked by prolificus (6540points) April 9th, 2010 from iPhone

I asked a similar question yesterday. I’m trying to pick apart the cause and effect of assumptions.

According to the Myers-Briggs personality profile, I am a true introvert.  I’ve learned to utilize extrovert ways of being over the years, and I do enjoy being around people. Yet, in order to feel recharged, I need huge amounts of alone time. Introspection, reflection, observation, and analytic thinking are things I do constantly.

Lately, I am noticing just how often I have made and relied upon assumptions in order to form and develop relationships.  In part, this has made for a rich, internal world that has not always been reality-based.  The longer I continue to allow relationships to unfold, the more my assumptions become challenged—the things I learn about the other tend to shatter the assumptions I have made and have relied upon as the basis of my perceptions.  The more this happens, the more my internal world crumbles.

I suppose what I’m really wanting to know is this:  for those of us who are true introverts, does the shattering of assumptions detroy our internal world or does it make it stronger by awakening it to reality?

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39 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Now this is a very interesting question.

DarkScribe's avatar

Yet, in order to feel recharged, I need huge amounts of alone time. Introspection, reflection, observation, and analytic thinking are things I do constantly.

This applies to me, but I am far from introverted. Where did you find this test? I have both done and applied various Myers Briggs tests but certainly not one that gives these results in my case.

JLeslie's avatar

@DarkScribe Myers-Briggs is used all of the time in the states, it is a very popular measurement tool of personality, used by many companies.

DarkScribe's avatar

@JLeslie Myers-Briggs is used all of the time in the states, it is a very popular measurement tool of personality, used by many companies.

Myers Briggs has a wide range of tests – where did the OP find this one? I would like to try it myself. The type indicators that I have available will certainly not classify me as introverted.

stump's avatar

I don’t know if I am a true introvert by the Myers-Briggs test. I do like a lot of solitude. I have not noticed the experience you are asking about (i.e. the crumbling of my internal world brought on by the disproving of my assumptions). But I think we rebuild our internal worlds with more accurate assumptions as our old assumptions are broken.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ll refer you back to my answer to your question of yesterday. My thing is, I look to confirm or disprove my assumptions about others before I base too much on them. When, for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen and my assumption is eventually negated it just means I need to reassess the things I’ve based on the assumption. The process can be a bit chaotic internally, but it’s always made manageable by the fact that I now have a more concrete base to work from and I’ve already been through the process, often more than once. Add to that the fact that just because a conclusion was drawn from an invalid assumption does not necessarily negate the conclusion and things tend to calm and reform rapidly. For me, my “internal world” as you call it never crumbles, it simply changes and adapts based on new observations so I guess, to answer your question it makes it stronger. Perhaps that’s because so much of it is based on who I am rather than my relationships with others, I see it as improving my perspective and knowledge rather than negating it. Oh and I’m about as Introverted as the test allows for.

JLeslie's avatar

@DarkScribe I did not know there was more than one test. I just though maybe you don’t utilize the test in your country, and were not familiar with it, my mistake.

JLeslie's avatar

@prolificus This crumbling of your world might be more about cognitive dissonance than being an introvert.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

I’m strongly introverted as well, but I do not share a tendency to assume anything. My Meyers-Briggs profile is INTP, if it’s useful to you, but the ‘P’ part of that profile has to do with making assumptions – rather, with not making them. Some people crave closure, so they fill in the blanks when it comes to other people or situations. I can’t view a constantly changing world in that way; one can bathe in the river but once. It also cuts down on the disappointment when you learn that a person doesn’t fit the assumptions – or expectations – you’ve made about him or her.

Assume nothing.

DarkScribe's avatar

@JLeslie I did not know there was more than one test. I just though maybe you don’t utilize the test in your country, and were not familiar with it, my mistake.

They specialise in profile/personality testing using what is basically Jungian type analysis. I have both done a few over the year – starting with my psych classes back in the late eighties and with various employers since then. I have also been responsible for applying them, and I am curious as to the “descriptor” the thumbnail provided by the OP as that will fit many personality profiles – mine included. I am not remotely introverted, although in some social circumstances, some people will initially believe that I am.

dpworkin's avatar

All of us make assumptions all the time, whatever our putative personality profile might be (and in my opinion Meyers-Briggs is not a finely honed instrument.)

What interests me about your question is the idea of the “shattering of assumptions” and the destruction of your internal world. In my opinion, these are not real phenomena, but instead are habitual cognitive internalizations, which are quite subject to change. We are not stuck with the schemata we have learned to rely upon.

I would find the constant erosion of my internal world due to disappointment over failed assumptions to be terribly disabling. I can’t climb in your head, and you don’t say so explicitly, but I would imagine you find it maladaptive, too. If you do, I would suggest doing some cognitive work to reframe that schema.

JLeslie's avatar

@DarkScribe Yes, I was aware it was based on Jungian Analysis, and I took a test once a long time ago, I don’t remember my results, but they were near what I would expect I remember. My husband brings up his test results whenever we are not communicating well, LOL. He took a test a coupe of years ago. Anyway, I just did not realize there was more than one. Thanks.

DarkScribe's avatar

@JLeslie I just did not realize there was more than one.

They are tailored to both areas of industry, public service, military, private sector in all manner of “sub” specialty areas and also tailored by gender, ethnicity, and educational background. There are probably many more – this is what I am aware of in my experience.

prolificus's avatar

@DarkScribe – I’m not sure the specific name of the personality profile. It was rather lengthy. And, Myers-Briggs was not the only profile I’ve encountered. I took a professional development seminar in undergrad in which we answered a battery of similar tests. In one way or another, they all pinned me as an introvert.

DarkScribe's avatar


Can you recall the complete (or a summary of) the ISTJ scores?

DarkScribe's avatar


One reason for my interest is noting that many people do not fit their profile if you examine their “on-line” personna. I find it fascinating. Over the years I have met (conventions, club meetings etc. ) in real life a number of people who are not remotely like their on-line persona, and who – in person – seem to be almost a reversal of their conventional apparent personality type. Their inner “wannabe” takes over in a way that it cannot in real life. It is more than just playacting.

Exhausted's avatar

I think the assumptions of others, could very well be the cause for the introversion in the first place. My husband is an introvert. I am not. I listen to his perceptions of others and am amazed at how differently we see people. He fears the worst in people he does not know and assumes things they do are for negative reasons. Being an optimist, I generally look for good in others and give them a clean slate, until they actually give me reason not to trust them. Kind of the innocent until proven guilty approach. I think you are starting to blossom out of your introversion and are seeing possibilities that you were not able to see before because you had not gone out and actually tested your assumptions until now.

prolificus's avatar

@dpworkin – just to clarify – I don’t think of the word shatter as used in this question is a negative, life-altering, world turned upside down, irreparable thing. I look at it in the sense of an artist refining a block of marble.

@DarkScribe – my score was actually INFJ. But, I was on the fence between T/F and P/J. I scored almost a 100% for I.

Cruiser's avatar

I am the classic INTJ’r This is me to a “T” I have found the BM test pretty accurate for those I know who taken it. You can get descriptions of your “type” here…

rahm_sahriv's avatar

I consider myself an introvert, but I learned early the lesson of making assumptions and try never to make them, at least in regards to people.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@DarkScribe – ’ and who – in person – seem to be almost a reversal of their conventional apparent personality type.’

This is me, to a point. I am much more outgoing online than I am in person. In person, you probably would have to drag me kicking and screaming to any kind of gathering, if you succeeded in dragging me at all. You can forget about me striking up a conversation with someone unless they do so first and I actually find them interesting. Online however, I find myself much freer to ‘socialize’.

Cruiser's avatar

@DarkScribe I couldn’t agree more about the online persona being a flip side of the real person. I know a woman who has the strongest and dominating female presence and personna and when we finally spoke on the phone there was a shy stuttering southern gal and I had to ask if I was speaking to the same person I had come to know and respect. Very interesting observation there.

DarkScribe's avatar

@rahm_sahriv This is me, to a point. I am much more outgoing online than I am in person.

I believe that this is a part of the real reason for “internet addiction” it allows some people a way to experience a life that they cannot in the real world. Some men can let their “inner feminine” out to play, those that lack a RL physical presence (size. muscle etc.) can be bullies or simply confident, people who normally are pushed to the forefront can quietly observe. Women can be assertive non nonsense men without reprisal, and as we all know after school holidays on-line experiences, kids can be “grown-ups”.

Scooby's avatar

Make it stronger by awakening it to reality!!

I like to think I’m very unassuming but there have been times where I’ve assumed an assumption of someone & been assumedly incorrect, sometimes positively & other times negatively, still it never fails to open my eyes to the real world…… :-/

wundayatta's avatar

Too many of my assumptions turn out to be correct for me to have any shattering going on. Perhaps I should have more hubris, but my model of personality and sociology works surprisingly well. Or maybe it isn’t surprising. I’ve spent my life paying attention to these things and, as many people have told me, “thinking too much.”

It says here that “thinking too much” pays off well over the long term.

I’m not sure what introversion and extroversion have to do with making assumptions. My feeling is that introverts, being more observational than participatory, will probably have better models of personality and human behavior. Extroverts, interacting more, will probably have more assumptions that turn out not to be correct, although perhaps they won’t care as much, since they’ll know how to smooth it over more easily if they screw up.

El_Cadejo's avatar

perfectly put wudayatta

I too would consider myself introverted, and like wundayatta i spend a lot of my time making observations of others. I’ve found myself to be a very good judge of character due to this. Obviously i make assumptions, they just turn out to be correct a lot of the time. When they arent, no big deal.

davidbetterman's avatar

The real question here is, do your personality test results match your Astrological sign description of you?

arij's avatar

this question brings to mind a scene from the movie “I love you Beth Cooper” where the main character comes to realization that the person he had a crush on was not the person he had made her out to be in his mind. it’s that very gut wrenching, horrible feeling I get when I realize that what I thought was to be really wasn’t. I can’t say that it makes my world crumble but certainly makes me disappointed and a bit bitter sometimes.

emergence's avatar

This sounds less like an introvert issue and more like a ‘INxJ’ issue…. as you said you scored INFJ, with T/F sort of borderline (that seems to be common!) Perhaps you’re not assuming things about people so much as how they act? Specifically, how they act in relationships? And the ‘J’ would imply you like to have things as expected.

But overall it sounds to me that however you function personality-wise, you set up very rigid internal structures of expectation. The only thing I can think of is not to destroy those structures but to allow them to be more dynamic, so that they can adjust to new information instead of crumble.

So when this DOES happen, and you crumble inside, do you disconnect from those people almost completely? This is the infamous ‘INFJ door slam’ – it’s happened to me once, sucks big time. And INFJs are usually excellent at reading people, maybe that’s why it’s so hard if you’re wrong.

I’m INFP btw, I consistently score 100% on introversion, lol.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t see what personality has to do with this, at all. You have basically described the process by which we all learn.

nicobanks's avatar

Hmm… I relate to a lot of what you’re saying, and you ask an interesting question, but it’s difficult for me to answer because I think you and I are operating on a few different assumptions.

For starters, it never occurred to me to think that my rich internal world was something other from “reality,” or not “reality-based.” So I have to ask: What do you mean by “reality”?

Everyone relies on assumptions in order to form and develop relationships. I mean, hopefully we are minimalistic with our assumptions, and flexible enough to move on when they’re proven inadequate, but we all do have them – how could we be otherwise? I mean, you don’t know about someone you don’t know about, so you have to start with an image of what you do know, and slowly learn the ways they do and don’t fit that image. That’s what a developing relationship is, at least so far as I understand it.

About your internal world, I only understand so much. I have an internal world, too; and I definitely would classify myself as introverted, so I’m with you thus far. But when you talk about your internal world crumbling, and being awakened to reality, there you lose me. How could it crumble? Crumble into what? Suddenly you’d become extroverted? No, so where would it go? It would go nowhere: it’s your internal world, it exists, it is real, and it’s not going anywhere. Of course, it will change as you go through your life and you bump into and respond to various stimuli in the universe, no question. But crumble? “Awaken”? What, is it asleep? Do you believe you are asleep and your internal world is a dream (not literally of course, but in any sense of these words)? What makes you think it’s unreal? What, I’ll ask again, is real?

tedibear's avatar

@prolificus – Maybe this discussion is something that would interest you.

Berserker's avatar

We all make assumptions, but without outer sources of confirmation, we’re bound to shape them to our liking as we delve into solitude…of course they will, eventually, be shattered. I have no idea if it enforces or weakens your own little world, but introverts are still human, I’m sure they learn to lick their wounds just like anyone would.

lifeflame's avatar

I actually don’t think it’s a polarity between the markers (i.e., it’s not a zero sum game between any of the two criteria). So if you are T it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be less F; or if you are a very developed E you can also be very developed I.

But I’m an INFJ, which I think tends to show up in the test as a fence sitter.
(Incidentally, in order to use the Myer Briggs we need to make a whole set of assumptions about people.)

As to the question: I think all of us are constantly making assumptions about the world and are refining the model of our world. I don’t think it is an exclusive domain of the introvert. For example, an extrovert may hold a certain self image of themselves as very capable, but if you took them on a road trip in a country where they suddenly couldn’t speak the language, they might feel out of their depth.

I agree with @nicobanks ..crumble into what?

It’s interesting to hear what personality types are around here. I’m seeing a lot of people declaring themselves as “IN“s in this thread. Is it the question, or is it fluther?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
djteel's avatar

some people are outgoing and some are not..why do so many people concern themselves with the reasons?

Anemone's avatar

I’m sorry if this is slightly off-topic, but I just have to point out that while there are many personality type tests, there really is only one actual Myers-Briggs or MBTI test. There aren’t different versions for different applications. However, there are different reports you can get based on your results, like a Career report, Work Styles report, etc. I’m trained to administer the MBTI assessment, and used to work for the publisher, in case that matters to anyone. You know, for credibility or something. :p

Also, to try to answer the original question… I wouldn’t call myself a “true Introvert”, but I am on the introverted side. I definitely tend to assume the best of people, and sometimes that means being shocked by the reality that people sometimes actually are manipulative, mean, selfish, criminal, etc. I’m not sure if this this the kind of thing you’re talking about, @prolificus, but it’s what came up for me when I read the question. I guess my experience relates more to people I’m not very close with, and you seem to be talking about friendships.

Anywhooo… this is an old thread, so I’ll stop there!

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