Shyness Vs Introversion – Which One Do You Have?

find out if you are an introvert or shy

Most people think that being “shy” and being “introverted” are the same thing. They use the two words as if they are identical.

In reality there’s a huge difference between shyness and introversion.

In this article, I’ll show you what this difference is, and how you can tell which one of the two you fit into.


Introverted People Have A Preference

First I’m going to explain what introversion is. Someone who is introverted likes to be alone more than the “average” person.

They may enjoy solitary activities like playing video games or reading books. They may also dislike group activities like going out to bars or socializing. Introverts also usually have fewer and closer friends than extroverts, who tend to have many more friends.

In short, being an introvert comes down to a personal preference. You prefer to spend more of your free time by yourself. It comes down to choosing to do what you personally enjoy. It’s the same as choosing to eat a certain food because you like how it tastes. Introversion is all about YOU.

Shy People Have A Fear

Shyness is totally different from introversion. Shyness isn’t a preference, but a fear.

When you are shy, you are constantly worried and afraid about what other people think of you. You care a lot about how you are coming across to others. Your fear of other people’s opinions makes you self-conscious, inhibited and quiet, especially around strangers.

Shyness is basically a nice word for fear. Unlike introverts, who prefer to “keep to themselves,” shy people may “keep to themselves” simply because they are avoiding anxiety, discomfort and fear.

Shyness is not about you and your preferences, but about OTHER PEOPLE. Worrying about how other people perceive you and whether they will disapprove of you.

Which One Do You Have?

So what’s the difference between shyness and introversion? Shyness is a fear of other people’s negative opinion and reactions, while introversion is a preference to spend time alone and has nothing to do with fear.

How can you figure out whether you’re shy or introverted? Pay attention to how you feel inside when you are around people. Imagine you have to make a speech in front of a group of people and think about how you would feel inside.

If you would feel anxious, tense, scared, or nervous, then you have shyness. You have a fear of the situation. Other symptoms of shyness include not knowing what to say, being too quiet, or having physical reactions like sweating, shaking or blushing. Someone who is shy may spend a lot of time by themselves, not because they prefer to, but because they want to avoid the fear and other uncomfortable feelings they get when they are put under the pressure of other people’s eyes.

On the other hand, if you can make presentations to groups comfortably and talk to other people with ease, but you still spend a lot of your time by yourself, then you are probably introverted. If you don’t feel fear or anxiety around people, but you still choose to be by yourself, then it probably means you have a preference for being solitary.

Shyness Is A Problem, Introversion Isn’t

In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with someone who enjoys spending time alone. Everybody is different and has different personal tastes in the types of activities they enjoy. Some people just don’t enjoy being a social butterfly and that’s fine.

However, I take a different stand on shyness. Shyness, which is basically the fear of other people’s negative judgement, is a problem that should be tackled head-on. It’s a problem because it isn’t voluntary: people can’t choose whether or not to be anxious and nervous around others.

The bottom line is: shyness makes your life worse, not better. Shy people would usually love to have more friends and get a better social life, but their fear stops them from doing what they want. Removing this fear is a worthwhile goal that will improve your quality of life.

If you have shyness and want to find out a way to overcome it, then check out this page to find out how I went from a shy, insecure loner to a socially confident guy.

If you’re an introvert, feel free to browse around the website. Many of the articles apply to you, too, especially if you want to start “getting out there” more.

About the author

Sean Cooper

I study all areas of psychology, sharing what works (and what doesn't) for overcoming shyness and social anxiety. After curing my own severe social anxiety I created "The Shyness and Social Anxiety System" to help others. This program has received stunning reviews from psychologists and people like you.

Now it's my life's mission is to help 25,000 people get the confidence, friends and romantic partner you want!

Read more about me here.


  • Thanks for the insight, Sean!

    I agree to your theory. There is a great difference between being shy and being introverted. Extroverted people can (and Are) shy too, the only real difference is that introverts recharge their batteries from doing solo activities, while extroverts feel more energized after interacting with a group of people.

  • I love spending time alone. I love playing video games, watching series/movies, reading etc. I never get bored at home and I love the idea of going home early so I can just relax. On the other side, I sometimes feel alone and would like to be invited to parties and spend time with people, but then when I rarely do get invited to a party, I refuse most of the times because I don’t want to go. I have absolutely no problem talking to people. I can talk to 1,2 even 3 people and be confident. I even like talking to people. But put me in front of a group and I start shaking like hell. A bit confused? Me too. So which one would I be? Cause to me it seems like I’m introverted, extroverted and freaking shy at the same time.

    • You have the same issue as mine (3 in 1… huh), sometimes I feel that I am an extrovert if not for SA. I love to be around people but what prevents me is my fear because of previous fail experiences, but at the same time I don’t mind to spend long times alone because I have many solo activities that entertain me.

      So I think I am somewhere in the middle of the intro-extro spectrum, with a great deal of SA.

  • Right. I think my current state of introversion stems from my shyness. But if things didn’t go bad back then, I know I’d be an extrovert. This shyness is a disease! Argh!

  • I have a little of both. Based on who I’ve been since childhood, I like exploring the world alone and doing lone activities. I recall being happy playing alone as a kid. I faced a lot of social ostracization due to my race and nationality, but I would always manage to have ‘a ball’ by myself (up until the teen years when the mind changes), and people thought I was such a weird kid for it.

    I do like to get out and meet new people. But when I do, I have issues of severe anxiety. I also have trust issues from past relationships disappointments. I think my social anxiety played a significant part in why those relationships ended on a negative not. However, my present day relationships are also affected by past abuse/neglect, and I suppose by being bullied as a kid by both my peers and my abusive/neglectful parent.

    It also doesn’t help that I live alone.

    I’m trying to get out more and change this. I can’t stand being socially awkward.

  • That was very enlightening. I guess people really thinks that introvert and shyness are one and the same. A very good explanation indeed . Probably I’m more on the introvert side, I really love some quiet time for myself, it keeps me rejuvenated after some moments alone. Thanks for sharing a great post!

  • This was a really good article showing the difference between shyness and introversion. I feel that I am introverted because I like solitary activities like drawing and painting, writing stories, walking by myself and spirituality and meditation. I would like to be more introverted than I am and I’ll tell you why. I want to go very deep within myself in meditation, but sights, sounds and memories pull me out of my meditative state. I really really want to get very close with God. The only way to do that is by being very still in your mind and going deeply into meditation. An activity like drawing and painting which I’ve done all my life, and which seem to be introverted, are actually extroverted because you are manipulating matter in the physical world. I want to go very deep within my own consciousness. True introversion means to be internalized and to draw power from deep within. It is possible to be in a very introverted state and then come into sound with people, while maintaining introversion. So you are talking which would normally be extroverted but if you are taking no energy from it and only giving then you are in a state of introversion while being extroverted. Do you like that thought?

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