Difference between Introversion and Social Anxiety

Key difference: Introversion is a personality trait where people love to spend time by themselves rather than in large groups of people. Social Anxiety is a disorder which causes people to be afraid of being judged for their words or social behavior.

IntroversionIt is often easy to categorize people who are different or who don’t fit into the popular ideals of how people act. In hast to categorize them, people are often clubbed together into categories that they do not belong in. For example, people who are quiet or do not interact much with others are often called shy or an introvert, or it may also be said that they have social anxiety. The three are completely different things, but people often club the three together. Alternately, people can be all three, or they may not by any. Still, it does not stop people from generalizing.

The primary difference between Introversion and Social Anxiety is the fact that one is a personality trait, whereas the other is a medical disorder. Despite of this, people often confuse the three together.

Most people can be categorized into one of two categories, such as introverts or extroverts. Extroverts are people that are outgoing; they enjoy talking to people, going to parties or social gatherings and enjoy people. Introverts, on the other hand, enjoy spending time by themselves; while they do go out and meet people, and some may even enjoy it, they cannot sustain it for long as it drains their energy. Introverts must spend time by themselves, i.e. downtime in order to recharge themselves.

Introverts are not necessarily shy in front of people, even though that is the common presumption. Similarly, they are not afraid of speaking in from of others, or get nervous when talking to people. Introversion basically means that introverts like spending time on their own. They don’t feel that they have to speak out in groups, or interact with others. Doing so tend takes a lot of energy, and physically drains them. Instead they like to spend more time alone, doing things like reading, drawing, painting, etc. All of these things are reflection; it allows the introvert to look inside and reflect on their own thoughts, rather than focusing outside on others.

Alternately, introverts do not have to like being alone all the time. They don’t mind going outside or hanging out with people. However, they do prefer to hangout in a small group of friends, preferably with friends who already know them, rather than at a large gathering of strangers, such as a party or a networking mixture.

Social AnxietySocial anxiety, on the other hand, is a disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of whether they are introverts or extroverts. However, the condition is more common among introverts. People suffering from social anxiety are afraid of being judged for their words or social behavior. This fear makes them hesitant to speak in front of people, lest they say something socially incorrect or behave in a manner that may make people laugh at them or judge them. This fear can be mild making the person sweat or get nervous, or it may be crippling resulting in the person freezing and unable to speak at all.

Social anxiety is also a learned fear, whereas a person is born with introversion. Social Anxiety is rooted in the fear of what people will say, or in the fact that anxious people fear that they are not good enough and that by speaking out or calling attention of oneself will reveal that about themselves.

As a behavioral disorder, social anxiety can be treated, primarily by medication and behavioral therapy. This course of treatment will help the person realize that there is nothing to be nervous or fearful about, so that they may be able to speak in front of and interact with other people. Introversion, on the other hand, has no cure because it is not an illness or a condition to be fixed. Instead it is a personality trait; it is just how people are.

Comparison between Introversion and Social Anxiety:



Social Anxiety


A personality type

A behavioral disorder


Inherent Personality

Crippling Fear


Reserved and solitary behavior

Nervous and fearful behavior


No self-criticism and self-consciousness

Self-criticism and self-consciousness


Do not have a fear of talking in front of people.

Fear of talking in front of people.


People are born introverts. It is their personality.

People develop social anxiety. It is a condition.


Cannot be treated. There is nothing to be treated. It is a personality.

Can be treated with medication and/or therapy.

Reference: Wikipedia (Introversion and Social Anxiety),
Huffington Post, Joyable, Quick and Dirty Tips
Image Courtesy: myworldmybook.wordpress.com, theodysseyonline.com

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