Psychologist Carl Jung first came up with the idea of introverts and extroverts in the 1920s. Introverts, he concluded, find social interactions taxing, while extroverts are energized by other people. Extroverts are naturally drawn into the world, so it's no surprise that a number of famous historical extroverts have shaped history.
Presidents like Andrew Jackson and Lyndon B. Johnson rank as famous ESTJs — Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging, as determined by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator — alongside cultural influencers like Martha Stewart and Ivanka Trump. There are hundreds of famous extroverted actors (since most extroverts love the spotlight) and famous extroverts in business (since they're great at persuasion). But who are the extroverts responsible for truly changing history because of their gregarious personalities?
Don't forget that no one is completely one or the other — even Jung admitted that. "There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert," Jung said. "Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum." Here's your chance to vote for the famous extroverts who had the biggest impact on history.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years locked in prison because of his opposition to South Africa's apartheid regime. Mandela was such a threat to the government they even allegedly plotted for him to escape from prison so they could shoot him. In 1993, three years after being released from prison, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the next year he was elected the first Black president of South Africa.
Nearly three decades behind bars had to be incredibly hard for the presumed extrovert, but Mandela notably said, “Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one's commitment.”
“I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest,” declared Muhammad Ali, a gold medal-winning Olympian and the most celebrated boxer of all time. He was an energetic and performative athlete, but Ali's energy wasn't just confined to the ring: he was also an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. After refusing to serve in the military in 1967, Ali was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison — a decision the US Supreme Court overturned in 1971.
Winston Churchill led Britain through the darkest days of World War II, including September 7, 1940, the day the Nazis dropped 337 tons of bombs on London. His tenure as prime minister notably included plenty of speeches and some pretty scathing burns — both characteristics of someone who doesn't shy away from the public eye nor from speaking his mind. He even won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
Time magazine listed Churchill as one of the greatest extroverts of our time, noting that he "had a limitless supply of energy — and a limitless taste for drink."
The oldest American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, was an inventor, scientist, and author in addition to his role helping write the Declaration of Independence. Franklin invented bifocals, discovered the Gulf Stream, and proposed eliminating the letters C, J, Q, W, X, and Y from the alphabet for being redundant. He was also believed to be an extrovert.
Franklin played a central role not just in the American Revolution, but also in the creation of the US Constitution. He had boundless energy to invent, debate, and challenge traditions. Oh, and he was also a big hit with the ladies.