27 Introverted vs. Extroverted – i人/e人 (i rén/e rén)

Yijun Huang

   simplified Chinese: i人/e人; pinyin: (i rén/e rén)

Are You Introverted vs. Extroverted?

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-reported personality test that assesses a person based on introversion/extraversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judgment/perception. Thus, there are 16 different personality types. As the MBTI gained popularity with Chinese netizens, the terms i人/e人 (i rén/e rén) emerged. The terms stem from the first letter of the MBTI personality result—introversion and extraversion. The i人 refers to introverts, and e人 refers to extroverts. A similar term pair would be 社恐 (shè kǒng)—scared of socializing—and 社牛 (shè niú)—confident with socializing. However, these terms are not mutually exclusive as an i人 can also be a 社牛 but prefers being alone or focusing on themselves. An example of these terms in use would be:

           A: 哇,你这么社牛,怎么可能是个i人?(wa, nǐ zhè me shè niú, zěn me kě néng shì gè i rén?)

           B: 你不是个社恐的e人吗?我只是喜欢独往独来而已。(nǐ bù shì gè shè kǒng de e rén ma? wǒ zhǐ shì xǐ huān dú wǎng dú lái ér yǐ.)

           A: Wow, you’re so confident. How are you an introvert?

           B: Aren’t you a socially anxious extrovert? I just like being left to my own devices.

           To my knowledge, MBTI in China first took off with the netizens who enjoy South Korean media, as MBTI is an integral part of their social culture. In 2021, a South Korean YouTube channel, Fitamin, created a show, MBTI Inside, where 16 people, each with a different MBTI personality type, live together in one house. The purpose of the show was to document how the different personality types interact. The show released a teaser clip showcasing the different atmosphere between the introvert room and the extrovert room, and it went viral on DouYin. Because of the global pandemic in 2020, South Korean netizens turned to personality tests, such as MBTI, to stay in contact with their friends and family despite their inability to go out. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the more accessible psychological personality tests, and its accessibility plays into its sociability factors. It serves as a good ice breaker and provides insight into a person’s character, or at least how they view themselves. As people began sharing their results, the personality test started to gain popularity and reached its height with Chinese netizens in 2022. Interestingly enough, Chinese netizens even recently developed an MBTI test for their pets. As a result, i猫/e猫 (i māo/e māo)—introvert cat/extrovert cat—and i狗/e狗 (i gǒu/e gǒu)—introvert dog/extrovert dog—emerged as well.


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