Social anxiety and introversion have a lot in common. They both cause an aversion to large crowds, a dislike for unnecessary social interactions and a preference for spending time alone. While they do have similarities, social anxiety and introversion are far from the same thing. Someone who suffers from social anxiety isn’t necessarily an introvert, and introverts don’t necessarily suffer from social anxiety.

Here are seven important differences between introversion and social anxiety:

1. Social Anxiety Can Result In Coping Mechanisms

While introverts may prefer to spend time alone, they don’t necessarily fear social interactions. People who suffer from social anxiety have a fight-or-flight response to social situations that causes them to seek coping mechanisms such as avoidance and withdraw.

2. Social Anxiety Interferes With A Person’s Daily Life

Being an introvert doesn’t usually interfere with a person’s life in a negative way, but social anxiety does. An introvert may have a smaller circle of friends or stay in on the weekends, but social anxiety can end up negatively effecting a person’s life, personally and professionally.

3. Social Anxiety Is Associated With Perfectionism

Social anxiety is often associated with perfectionism. People who suffer from social anxiety have a hard time accepting their flaws. They may suffer from self-esteem issues, which causes them to seek perfection. Introverts are much more accepting of their flaws and failures.

4. Introverts Are Less Likely To Give Into Social Pressure

An introvert isn’t typically swayed by peer pressure. If they feel uncomfortable, they will simply walk away from the situation. Someone who suffers from social anxiety may be more likely to give into social pressure, in an effort to fit in or gain the approval of others.

5. People Who Suffer From Social Anxiety Believe They Aren’t Good Enough

Introverts don’t necessarily suffer from low self-esteem issues, they just prefer to spend time alone doing things they enjoy. People who suffer from social anxiety often battle low self-esteem. They constantly worry that they aren’t good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, etc.

6. People With Social Anxiety Worry About Perception

Presentation, performance and perception mean much more to someone who suffers from social anxiety than they do to an introvert. An introvert is often less worried about what other people think of them, while someone with social anxiety is constantly concerned about the opinions of others.

7. Introversion Is An Inborn Personality Trait

If you’re an introvert, you probably have been your whole life, and you’re comfortable with who you are. Social anxiety on the other hand, isn’t something you are born with. It’s often the result of stress or trauma.

I Heart Intelligence
The Social Anxiety Institute
Psychology Today