Introversion/Extroversion's role in Facilitating Stereotypes

Katherine Kelly
Georgia Southern University


This study investigated the effect of introversion/extroversion and self-esteem on a person's tendency to hold stereotypes about others. To measure the dependent variables, participants completed a day in the life paragraph of a fictitious Hispanic male. To determine whether the participant was introverted or extroverted, the Eysenck Extroversion Scale (Appendix A) was used; the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Appendix B) was used to determine the self-esteem of participants. The results did not show a significant effect of personality or self-esteem on the participants' use of stereotypes.

Introversion/Extraversion's Role in Facilitating Stereotypes

The nature (Jussim, Fleming, Coleman, & Kohberger, 1996) and source (Schaller & Conway, 2001) of stereotypes has been frequently studied, but the role of personality characteristics, specifically introversion/extroversion (also known as EI) in the facilitating of stereotype formation has not been substantially researched by psychologists. Due to the lack of research in this area, this study will explore the possible relationship between these specific personality types and a person's tendency, in general, to foster stereotypes about others.

Research has found that introverts usually perform more effectively on tasks that require reflection and insight (Matthews, 1992), whereas their counterparts are normally more fit for tasks that require physiological arousal such as speedy and fast pace tasks (Rawlings & Carnie, 1989).

Even though introverts tend to think deeply, they can sometimes be at a disadvantage socially. Opt and Loffredo (2003), in their study on communicator image and introversion/extraversion, found that extroverts had a significantly higher communicator image than introverts. Norton (1983), a prior researcher of this topic, defines communicator image as "representing an overall evaluation of the person's perception of whether the self is a good communicator or not" (1983, p. 72). Strong predictors of this include dominance and open and relaxed personality traits. Norton found that people with a high communicator image find interaction with others easier. These results make sense due to the fact that introverts focus inwardly, noticing ideas and concepts whereas extroverts focus more on outside objects and other aspects of their environment (Opt & Loffredo, 2003). This research supports the fact that introverts have low confidence in their communication skills and believe that others perceive them as inept socially (Opt & Loffredo, 2003). In light of this, introverts tend to shy away from social situations, forming ties to groups, and meeting new people. Because they don't feel comfortable communicating with people, the number of social encounters they have had may be low, forcing them to rely upon stereotypes more often. Introverts have also been found to hide away from competitive encounters due to the anxiety it provokes (Graziano, Feldesman, & Rahe, 1985). This further limits their social skills thus keeping them from interacting effectively with hostile people (Graziano et al., 1985). Since their social skills are low, introverts may use stereotypes to deal with those that seem threatening to them.

The impact of extraversion on social relationships has also been investigated. In Asendorpf and Wilpers' ( 1998, June) longitudinal study, both male and female participants were asked to keep a record of the relationships they made and maintained during this time. A measure of The Big Five Personality factors was also taken of the participants every six months of the study. The results of their study showed that extroversion positively affects a person's ability to make enduring relationships (Asendorpf & Wilpers, 1998). They also found that extroverts had longer and better relationships.

Another relevant line of research to this topic is the contact theory. In Pettigrew's (1998) review of contact effect research, the evidence for contact effects are clearly supported. He cites Allport's (1954) theory which brings to light four key elements for positive contact between members of a group: equal group status within the situation, common goals, intergroup cooperation, and the support of authorities, custom, or law (Allport, 1954). Since extroverts are more likely than introverts to be in organizations in which these conditions exist, it would suffice that extroverts would be better equipped to overcome stereotypes. Since extroverts usually have had more helpful, cooperative interactions with others due to their increased social involvement and attention, they should be less likely to rely heavily on stereotypes.

There are other personality traits that have been evaluated in regard to holding stereotypes. In Kulik's (2005) study of gender role stereotypes in Israeli adolescents, the correlation between self-esteem and gender role stereotypes in adolescents was evaluated. The participants were given a gender role stereotype questionnaire and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale to measure these variables. The results showed that if an adolescent's self-esteem is high, they will not harbor gender role stereotypes about men and women (Kulik, 2005). Research has also found that those whose self-esteem has been threatened will often use stereotypes to boost their self-esteem (Fein and Spencer, 2000).

Due to the lack of such data, the role of introversion/extroversion in the use of stereotypes will be examined in this study as well as the possible interaction of self-esteem and EI in regard to stereotypes. It is difficult to predict a specific hypothesis in explaining the role of EI in holding stereotypes. However, based on the literature mentioned above, it is conceivable for an introvert to either foster stereotypes (Opt & Loffredo, 2003) or reject stereotypes (Matthews, 1992). Self-esteem could also interact with EI to create a stronger effect. If an extrovert's self-esteem is threatened, for whatever reason, before participating in the study, they may be more prone to use stereotypes, despite the advantages they have socially. At the same time, introverts who have a healthy self-esteem may not stereotype, even though they are not as sociable.


Participants consisted of students enrolled in introductory psychology classes here at Georgia Southern University. The study was open to both male and female participants of any ethnicity. The participants received course credit for being in the study. There were a total of 41 participants. Of these, there were 20 (49%) male participants and 21 (51%) female participants. Twenty-six (63%) of the participants were white, 13 (32%) were black, and two (5%) participants were of other ethnicities. There were 13 (32%) freshmen, 14 (34%) sophomores, 6 (15%) juniors, 6 (15%) fourth-year seniors, and 2 (5%) fifth-year seniors. The participants ranged in age from 18-24 with a mean age of 20. All participants were treated in accordance with the "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and code of conduct"(American Psychological Association, 1992).


The study was a 2 (extroverted vs. introverted) x 2 (low vs. high self-esteem) between subjects design. The two dependant variables were the number of coded words for both the Hispanic and "what is beautiful is good" stereotypes.


For this study, the Eysenck Extraversion Scale and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale were used (see Appendices 1 and 2). The participants also filled out a questionnaire using a picture of an anonymous Hispanic male in which they wrote down their first impressions of the person as well as any questions they wanted to ask him.


First, informed consent was given to participants in accordance with IRB guidelines. The participants were then given a packet of materials to fill out which included in the following order: general demographical information, the Eysenck Extraversion Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, a sheet with pre-determined lines and the picture of the Hispanic male for them to write their first impressions, and a sheet for questions they would ask the person if they came into real contact with him. After the participants filled out the packet, the first impressions were coded for the following Hispanic stereotypes: lazy, unintelligent, and poor (Dixon & Rosenbaum, 2004). Words were also coded to reflect the "beauty" stereotype. This stereotype involves a preoccupation with one's physical appearance and the image they are reflecting toward others. Words coded for this included spending a long time fixing his hair, picking out his clothes, etc. Also, if a participant assumed he had friends and was popular because he looked attractive, this was coded to represent the "beauty" stereotype as well. The questions were analyzed to see if they confirmed any stereotypes present.


To measure the effect of the personality traits introversion and extroversion on the presence of Hispanic stereotypes and the "what is beautiful is good stereotype", two separate 2 (introversion vs. extroversion) x 2 (high vs. low self-esteem) ANOVAs were conducted. The first ANOVA measured the number of stereotypical Hispanic words given and the second ANOVA measured the number of beauty stereotype words given. For the first ANOVA, neither personality F(1,41)=.01, p>.05, n²=.00 nor self-esteem F(1,41)=.01(1), p>.05, n²=.00 significantly affected the amount of Hispanic stereotypes present (M=21, SD=.57). For the second ANOVA, neither the effects of personality F(1,41)=3.31, p>.05, n²=.10 nor self-esteem F(1,41)=.53, p>.05, n²=.12 were significant (M=.95, SD=1.52). There was not a significant interaction between personality and self-esteem for either the number of Hispanic words given F(1,41)=3.10, p>.05, n²=.09 or the number of beauty words given F(1,41)=.53, p>.05, n²=.12.

Other qualitative variables were measured as well, such as what level of school he was perceived to be in, what his perceived job was, and references that could be considered stereotypical of Hispanics' culture but not supported by literature as Hispanic stereotypes. For this data, see figures 1 and 2. Out of the 41 questionnaires, there were only 3 cultural references.



There were two different stereotypes looked at in this study: the Hispanic stereotype and the "What is beautiful is good" stereotype. However, none of the participants used stereotypes in their perceptions of the fictitious man. This is known as the floor effect. Due to this fact, the results did not yield any significant effects for either variable. Since the results were not significant due to the lack of stereotyping, it is impossible to know whether there are any differences between how introverts/extroverts or those with high vs. low self-esteem will perceive an individual. Although the literature mentioned previously placed both introverts and extroverts in a position to foster stereotypes, it is impossible to conclude from this study any differences between the two when perceiving other people. The results for self-esteem were not conclusive with the literature on this topic either. Literature has found that a person's self-esteem does affect how a person will perceive another. One study (Valentine, 1998) found that men with low self-esteem have a tendency to oppose women being in the workplace whereas men with high self-esteem think the opposite.


The most substantial limitation in this study was the picture used by the participants to fill out the questionnaire. Since no one in the study stereotyped, it is clear that the picture could be inadequate in representing the stereotypical Hispanic male. If the picture had better represented a stereotypical Hispanic male, participants might have exhibited more stereotypical responses. In other words, if the man in the picture had looked rougher and less clean cut, perhaps the participants would have been more inclined to stereotype. The man in the picture should also have had stronger Hispanic facial features so the participants would know that he was Hispanic. For further research in this area, another picture should be used. There was not an even number of introverts and extroverts in the study. This could have also interfered with the measurement of the dependent variables.

Further Research

In the future, researchers could attempt the study again using a more affective picture to elicit stereotypes from participants. Researchers could also look at personality in regards to a different stereotype such as gender roles or a different ethnic stereotype such as Asian or Native American.


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. p. 537.

Asendorpf, J. B., & Wilpers, S. (1998). Personality effects on social relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1531-1544.

Dixon, C. J., & Rosenbaum, M. S. (2004). Nice to know you? Testing contact, cultural, and group threat theories of anti-black and anti-Hispanic stereotypes. Social Science Quarterly, 85, 257-280.

Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (2000). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through derogating others. In C. Stangor (Ed.), Stereotypes and Prejudice: essential readings. (pp. 172-190). New York: Psychology Press.

Graziano, W., Feldesman, A., & Rahe, D. (1985). Extroversion, social cognition, and the salience of aversiveness in social encounters. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 49, 971-980.

Jussim, L., Fleming, C., Coleman, L., & Kohberger, C. (1996). The nature of Stereotypes: II. A multiple process model of evaluations. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 283-312.

Kulik, L. (2005). Predicting gender role stereotypes among adolescents in Israel: The Impact of background variables, personality traits, and parental factors. Journal Of Youth Studies, 8, 111-129.

Matthews, G. (1992). Extroversion. In A. P. Smith & D. M. Jones (Eds.), Handbook of Human performance. Vol. 3: State and Trait (pp.95-126). London: Academic.

Norton, R. W. (1983). Communicator style: Theory applications and measurement. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Opt, S. K., & Loffredo, D. A. (2003). Communicator image and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Extroversion-Introversion. Journal of Psychology, 137, 560-568.

Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 65-85.

Rawlings, D., & Carnie, D. (1989). The interaction of EPQ extroversion and WAIS Subtest performance under timed and un-timed conditions. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 453-458.

Schaller, M., & Conway, L. (2001). From cognition to culture: The origins of stereotypes that really matter. In G. Moskowitz (Ed.), Cognitive Social Psychology: The Princeton Symposium on the Legacy and Future of Social Cognition. (pp. 163-176). Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Valentine, S. (1998). Self-esteem and men's negative stereotypes of women who work. Psychological Reports, 83, 920-922.


Appendix A
The Eysenck Extroversion Scale

_______ 1) I tend to keep in the background at social events.

_______ 2) I prefer to work with others rather than alone.

_______ 3) I get embarrassed easily.

_______ 4) I generally tell others how I feel regardless of how they may take it.

_______ 5) I really try to avoid situations in which I must speak to a group.

_______ 6) I am strongly motivated by the approval or interest of others.

_______ 7) I often daydream.

_______ 8) I find it easy to start conversations with strangers.

_______ 9) I find it difficult to make friends of the opposite sex.

_______ 10) I particularly enjoy meeting people who know their way around the social scene.

_______ 11) I would rather read a good book or watch television than go out to a movie.

_______ 12) I would rather work as a salesperson than as a librarian.

_______ 13) I spend a lot of time philosophizing and thinking about my ideas.

_______ 14) I prefer action to thought and reflection.

_______ 15) I am often uncomfortable in conversations with strangers.

_______ 16) I am mainly interested in activities and ideas that are practical.

_______ 17) I would prefer visiting an art gallery over attending a sporting event.

_______ 18) I enjoy open competition in sports, games, and school.

_______ 19) I make my decisions by reason more than by impulse or emotion.

_______ 20) I have to admit that I enjoy talking about myself to others.

______ 21) I like to lose myself in my work.

______ 22) I sometimes get into arguments with people I do not know well.

______ 23) I am very selective about who my friends are.

______ 24) I make decisions quickly and stick to them.

Appendix B
Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

1= strongly agree 2=agree 3=disagree 4=strongly disagree
1. I feel I am a person of worth, at least on an equal basis with others.
          1           2           3           4

2. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
          1           2           3           4

3. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
          1           2           3           4

4. I am able to do things as well as most people.
          1           2           3           4

5. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
          1           2           3           4

6. I take a positive attitude towards myself.
          1           2           3           4

7. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
          1           2           3           4

8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.
          1           2           3           4

9. I certainly feel useless at times.
          1           2           3           4

10. At times, I think I am no good at all.
          1           2           3           4



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