September 21, 2011

Guest Post: Extraversion in YA Characters (OCEAN #3)

Najela from Brave New Adventure has stopped by previously to discuss the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness in YA characters, and today she's back to talk about extraversion!

E stands for Extraversion and is probably one of the most varied in terms of YA characters. Extraversion refers to personality traits of people who are outgoing, sociable, and more assertive. Introversion refers to people who prefer to keep to themselves and are more reserved. Most people tend to be ambiverts, people who have both traits of extraversion and interversion. According to Wikipedia, most people tend to be ambiverts (up to 68% of the population) with extraversion and introversion being the extremes.

I believe that most characters in YA tend to be ambiverts with leanings closer to either side of the spectrum when the situation calls for it. For example, characters in a new setting, while they may be originally outgoing and sociable maybe be a little reserved when encountering new people. They may have to warm up to the new group before returning to their usually outgoing self. Conversely, a character who is usually reserved may be forced to be sociable and outgoing in the same situation. One could never know how they would act in an unknown situation. Essentially in writing, this is what the point of the entire story would be about.

The best examples of Extraversion, Introversion, and essentially Ambiversion are novels involving an ensemble casts. One the best known, in my opinion would be The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series by Ann Brashares in which each girl invokes a different trait. For those who are unfamiliar with the Sisterhood series, the books follows the friendship of four girls, Carmen, Tibby, Bridgette, and Lena and their journey through their teenager years and their subsequent adulthood. The most vivid characterization in my opinion would be from the first book where you can see the range of girls go from and everything inbetween. Bridgette, who seems popular and outgoing becomes reserved and dispassionate after a situation crushes her emotions.

As with the last post, many characteristics interact and enhance or dimension each other. Imagine a character such who is high on agreeableness(which we'll discuss in the next post) and extroversion such as June, an eager to please young girl from The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June. Or characters such as Katniss from the Hunger Games who I'd say is high on conscientiousness, but more of introvert? Especially in the case where a character is put through a situation they had never gone through before? In the case of Katniss, even though I see her as being introverted, she was forced into a situation where she had to be more extroverted, yet she still had to be smart about who she allied herself with.

What about your characters? What do they classify as? Intorverted? Extroverted? Or something inbetween? Share in the comments.

 Najela is a recent graduate from UC Riverside with a dual degree in Psychology and Creative Writing. She is actively trying to combine the two majors while working as a Behavioral Interventionist for children that have autism. She is current pursuing a Master's Degree in Exceptional Student Education and working on an illustrated college guidebook set to release hopefully by (late) November 2011. You can follow her at her website or her tumblr. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the extraversion-introversion spectrum in YA, Najela!

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