Weird History How History's Most Famous Extroverts Changed History  

Genevieve Carlton
206 votes 59 voters 3.6k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the figures who most leveraged their outgoing personalities for historical change.

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.

Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list How History's Most Famous Extroverts Changed History
Photo: Mexicaans fotomagazijn/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

“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.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list How History's Most Famous Extroverts Changed History
Photo: Nobel Foundation/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Rosa Parks stated Martin Luther King, Jr. was "the type of person that people really gravitated towards and they seemed to like him personally, as well as his leadership." King had an enormous impact on civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s; his efforts earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 

King attracted followers in part because he was a reported extrovert who used his charisma to challenge racism. On August 28, 1963, King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands in the historic March on Washington.

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Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list How History's Most Famous Extroverts Changed History
Photo: South Africa The Good News/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

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.”

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Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list How History's Most Famous Extroverts Changed History
Photo: Joseph Duplessis/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

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.

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