Most of us ask ourselves at some point, "What makes me ... me?" It's the number one question that draws people to astrology and other typologies and has made it popular enough that most people know roughly what you mean when you ask them what their sign is, and they can usually tell you. Along with their sign, they may also be able to tell you whether they are right or left brained, their enneagram type, their Myers-Briggs designation, their life path digit, or any number of other classifications.
One designation that has become so ingrained in our language that we hardly think of twice about it is introversion versus extraversion. In popular use, it tends to be used to describe people who are more quiet or shy (introvert) as opposed to the people who are outgoing and sociable (extraverts*).
In actuality, the definitions of these designations are still debated. Psychologist Carl Jung posited that people's psychic energy (as differentiated from physical energy) flowed in one of two directions, primarily: externally ('extra') and internally ('intro). Those who were predominantly introverted had their energy flow inward with a focus on the inner world, feelings, dreams, and thoughts. They don't tend to seek out others' company or opinions as often and tend not to collect many friends and acquaintances, but only one or two close friends with whom they establish trust. In contrast, an extravert's psychic energy flows outward. Extraverts turn their attention more often to the happenings in the outside world, and are more likely to become involved in things outside of their own mind. They are also more comfortable in situations of a highly social nature or situations with alot of activity than introverts.
Psychologist Hans Eysenck studied the concept of extraversion and introversion from a more biological approach. He theorized that extraverts and introverts differed in their baseline levels of cerebral cortex arousal, proposing that extraverts tend to have a lower baseline measurement than introverts. Therefore, extraverts seek out the stimulus that introverts might avoid, because they 'need' more cortex arousal, whereas an introvert's baseline level is higher and can too easily become tipped into overdrive with too much external stimulus.
While this specific theory could not be proven in the research, a number of experiments have shown that there is a difference in the ways certain parts of an introvert's brain responds versus the extrovert's brain. Various findings suggest that introverts seem to be more sensitive to stimulation than extraverts, being more quickly and strongly aroused in social or noisy situations. Some findings even suggest that introverts are more likely to have a higher level of response to caffeine and nicotine than extraverts. Brain scans have also shown differences between the two Because of findings like these, many researchers tend to describe extraverts and introverts in terms of their difference in sensitivity to stimulation, rather than simply how 'outgoing' or 'sociable' someone is.
Of course, being an extrovert or an introvert isn't a hard-defined yes or no 'check the correct box' scenario, but is more appropriately measured on a continuum, with some people landing close to the middle and others closer to the edges.
What does this have to do with astrology?
Although I'd adore the categorical simplicity of declaring all the 'yin' signs introverts and the 'yang' signs extroverts, observation shows it's not that simple. Like all things in astrology, the complexities of your specific chart are much richer and more significant than astrological generalities. It's the unique combination and repeated themes in a natal chart that would reveal things like introversion or extraversion. Still, here are some ideas to play with:
- How concentrated are the planetary placements in your chart in the water houses: 4, 8, and 12? The activities these houses govern (from a psychospiritual, not necessarily traditional, viewpoint) tend to be more about inner life, such as one's private home environment, the inner terrain of the psyche, and the spiritual life. While one or two outer planets hanging out in one or more of these houses may not an introvert make, a stellium of personal planets in the 8th house certainly may!
- Do you have a lot of planets placed in the 9th, 10th, or 11th houses? The southern (top) hemisphere of the chart is typically related to activities that take us away from a the more narrow life focus of self, family, or our own creative pursuits and in touch with bigger happenings such as participation in community, education, and travel. Big happenings in a big world.
- Are your planetary placements in the signs weighted significantly more in water than in fire or vice versa? The water signs orient themselves to the world and their experience through feelings, whereas the fire signs orient on what inspires and provokes them to action.
- What about the earth and air signs? Air can certainly have a social component which can lead to the desire to share ideas and stories with another, but that outlet can certainly be tapped through media rather than conversation. The earth signs tend to have a practical orientation to the world around them and like to accomplish things but a Virgo can analyze her own mind just as well as a company's financial report.
I hear you saying "but, but, but" and I agree; there are rebuttals to each argument and I'm making them all in my head as I go (is my Mercury in Libra showing)? Still, I think the chart as a whole, with many of the above possibilities combined and even more I haven't mentioned, can reveal an introverted or extraverted nature. Do you?
You, people: observe, test and report back.
*Extravert, extrovert. You say tomato, I say it's the same thing so don't bug me about it just to sound smart. If you really do want to know, though, Google it.
**Most tests I've come across seem to be biased toward introversion as an answer. Maybe because all those extroverts are out partying and not writing internet quizzes?