Most people who are introverted often wonder if they are also antisocial. However, there are distinct differences between an introvert and an antisocial personality. Discovering whether or not you’re an introvert or antisocial is simply a matter of asking the right questions. Below are four questions that can help you discover whether you’re an introvert or antisocial.
Question 1: Can I thrive in a dense, urban environment?
Although the introvert is surrounded by people in a big city, they still feel a sense of autonomy within the crowd. E.B. White once said that “New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation.” Introverts find the balance of privacy and participation alluring. For the introvert, it’s not the presence of people that’s draining, but rather the interactions. Antisocial people, on the other hand, do not thrive in urban environments. They need their space. The antisocial personality needs both emotional and physical space. Antisocial personalities thrive in bucolic, rural areas.
Question 2: Do I answer my phone when it rings?
Introverts are okay initiating contact with people and have no problem arranging a lunch-date or meeting. Introverts enjoy the company of others, they just need more control over their schedules in regards to who they meet, how many people they meet, and when they are meeting. The antisocial person, however, doesn’t phone, text, or even wait for others to contact them; and antisocial people rarely initiate contact. An antisocial personality doesn’t need an unlimited talk and text cellular plan. They could easily get by with a prepaid phone.
Question 3: Do people see me as friendly?
Lots of introverts have great social skills, gravitate towards conversations about abstract ideas and are quick to philosophize. They just take time to warm up to others because they despise small talk, preferring instead passionate conversations that can nurture deep relationships. The antisocial person gives off more of a misanthropic vibe. An antisocial personality may even come across as abrasive or completely guarded. Antisocial people, however, are just very particular about who they take the time to talk to, and often come across as unfriendly.
Question 4: Do I long for someone in my life?
Companionship is another way to understand if you’re an introvert or antisocial. For the introvert, a desire for a significant other or close companion is a key to living a fulfilled and happy life. An antisocial person would beg to differ. The antisocial personality sees companionship as a matter of choice, and not a necessity. For the introvert, companionship is mandatory.
Jerome Kagan spent thirty years of his career as a developmental psychologist studying human behavior and introversion. According to Kagan, we are who we are. However, none of us are monolithic, and we’re all beautifully complicated. You can be an introvert who is also antisocial. Or, you could be an introvert who has extrovert tendencies. Many people are ambiverts, which means they exhibit qualities of introversion and extroversion. The one thing that introverts and antisocial personalities have in common is that although they may shun the crowds, they still have a desire deep down to connect. Senator Corey Booker once said that “Rugged individualism is a nice idea, but it didn’t build the Hoover Dam, get us to the moon, or map the human genome. We all need each other to accomplish greatness.”
Modern Farmer on Hermits
PsychCentral on Jerome Kagan
New York Times on Jerome Kagan
Kia Wakefield is a poetess, writer, essayist and certified life coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son. Find out more at kiawakefield.com