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What Is an Ambivert?

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For a very long time, extraversion (also spelled “extroversion”) was considered the healthy default. It was considered perverse or pathological to avoid crowds or to crave time alone. Fortunately, introversion is far more accepted these days. People self-identify as introverts in their online dating profiles. You can buy “Go Away, I’m Introverting” T-shirts and coffee mugs.

You might be an introvert. You might be an extravert. But it’s more likely you’re an ambivert: that is, somewhere in between.

That’s because extraversion is not an all-or-nothing identity; it’s a spectrum. Psychologists count extraversion—that is, the quality of finding energy and gratification outside of oneself—among the “Big Five” dimensions of personality (along with conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to new experience, and neuroticism). Each of us is extraverted to some degree, just as we’re conscientious or neurotic. That degree could be zero (although it probably isn’t). Very few people are 100 percent anything.

Personality psychologist Robert McCrae spent his career examining and testing the Big Five model. In a 1992 study [PDF], McCrae and his collaborator found that many people (around 38 percent) fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for all five traits, including extraversion.

Adam Grant is a management expert at the Wharton School of Business. In 2013 he conducted a study on 340 call center employees. Since these are people who talk on the phone for a living, you might assume that the majority of them would be extraverts. But two-thirds said they were neither extraverted nor introverted—rather, somewhere in-between. And, more surprising still, these ambiverts outperformed extraverts on their sales calls.

Why? Grant theorized that it's because phone calls are about more than talking. Sales reps also have to listen. Ambiverts are naturally comfortable doing both, he wrote, which means that they’re “likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale, but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”

Many people who self-identify as introverts or extraverts do so after taking a personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Despite its lack of scientific support, the MBTI has become immensely popular, in part because every test result is flattering. It’s a little like a horoscope: We can find ourselves in our readings, but there’s no science to back it up. The MBTI also perpetuates the myth of the all-or-nothing identity, labeling each test-taker as either an introvert or an extravert.

Look, we’re not going to tell you that you can’t be one extreme or the other. But the human experience is rich and complex. Isn’t it better to be flexible?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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