True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Chris Watts and the Psychology of the Introvert [+ Test Yourself on the Introversion Scale]

Chris Watts always seems like a fish out of water, doesn’t he? He doesn’t seem completely comfortable in many of those Thrive videos. He’s not comfortable in the Sermon on the Porch, although in his shorts and sandals, he’s trying his best to act casual. And in all his interrogations, he seems more focused on trying to appear normal, which of course makes him seem even weirder.


Now that he’s in prison for the rest of his life, he appears – and sounds – more relaxed, and more comfortable than we’ve ever seen him. It’s as if an actual prison is a sort of natural psychological home for him, a place where he can truly be himself, not so much enjoy himself but just be himself.

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There’s a stereotype associated with true crime – not in all true crime, but some areas of it – where the quiet, nondescript neighbor that no one noticed before turns out to be the worst monster – a diabolical serial killer, mass shooter or serial rapist of some sort.

This stereotype exists because it’s often true. It’s the invisible introvert who’s capable of a much deeper, and richer inner world than the average person, and so when we translate that capacity to true crime, we get a much darker, and more depraved kind of crime. The Watts Family Murders are a lot like that when you think about it.

On this blog I don’t like to discuss psychology, not because it’s not my thing, but because that’s what the books do. That’s why there are already eight TWO FACE books on this case already [OBLIVION is out tomorrow].

One of the issues I’ve been itching to tackle in more detail is this seemingly unimportant issue of Watts’ personality. He’s an introvert. So what? Well, it’s a major personality type and a major defining trait of this particular murderer – whom no one can understand, and who did something no one can explain.  That’s really the final word on this case. No one knows why and no one will ever know.


Rocket Science specializes in these kind of psychological conundrums. In order to prime you for what’s coming in OBLIVION, it’s important that you understand yourself on the introversion/extroversion scale. You may think you do, but this test will make it explicit.

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Feel free to share the results of this test, and if you feel the test isn’t an accurate reflection, tell us. If it is, tell us. If you found something out about yourself by taking the test, don’t be shy, don’t be an introvert – tell us!

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In the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, I’ll start first. I scored as a:

Public extrovert and private introvert.

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I’m not sure it’s true that I’m a wallflower at home [perhaps being an author means you automatically are], but I know in certain situations, public and private, I can be.

Personally I think the litmus test for extroversion/introversion has to do with how one deals with being alone. I have mixed feelings about it. I want my space but also feel lonely at times. Can you be an extrovert and an introvert at the same time? Clearly you can be.

Now in the Watts case, being alone does emerge as a kind of test. We see what Watts does when he’s left alone for five weeks. We see what he does when he’s not home. We also see how Shan’ann tolerates not being alone, as well as how she manages people.

And this is the value of spending some time personalizing these concepts. When we do not only do we get a much deeper grasp on these enigmatic true crime characters and personalities, we also see how and where we [hypothetically] fit into these myriad dynamics.

I also think it’s a spectrum. You’re born on one or the other side of the scale, but it’s a sliding scale, and it can change during the various stages and circumstances of your life.

We saw how Chris Watts seemed to become more extroverted in some ways, and Shan’ann as well. But it’s also a sort of default setting. Especially when things aren’t going the way we want them to. Watts’ introversion feeds into his identify, and without exception, we all default to our identities. In true crime this is especially true, which is why identity is absolutely key to why criminals do what they do.

Understanding identity also helps explain why we do the things we do, or why we feel the way we do about what we do and how we do it.

I love the first line of my result, about the horror of leaving others indifferent. I think Shan’ann also felt that a great deal. Ironically, Watts seemed to feel the opposite way during his Sermon on the Porch, and Confession #1 and 2. It’s as if he wanted people to feel indifferent.

Shan’ann and the kids have disappeared. I’m not sure where they went. But maybe it’s not a big deal…?


Now, in conclusion: is the above test accurate? Was it for you? For me? Well, if you’re a full-time author, yes, you are all about changing hearts and influencing minds, especially in a genre as serious and epic as true crime. Leaving others unchanged or indifferent means your efforts have failed. You have failed. What I don’t like is this idea of needing to be validated externally. My work does, I don’t, but it’s easy to get sucked into OBLIVION [see what I did there…]

Now it’s your turn 😉

More: Introverts run the world — quietly

Raising An Introverted Child In An Extroverted World

“Chris Watts is a narcissistic psychopath”- now find out what YOU are


  1. Sylvester

    Every time I take the Meyer’s-Brigg I score the same – but in Psych class we got the full test, which is maybe ten pages long, massive thing, folded up. ENTJ – extrovert intuitive thinking judging. Subsequent small versions on the net come out the same every time – ENTJ.

    On this test above I noticed that the answers weren’t exactly how I might answer. For example I am helpful, but not always. I grow impatient when someone keeps asking for help but it’s a frustration born out of not having been effective enough to teach someone to fish, rather than just handing them the fish.

    In any event, I was deemed “Public Extrovert; Private Introvert” – and the synopsis of needing to close the gap between the two poles of your life due to “reactions of those around you” or feeling pressure to “close the gap” is sometimes apropos. But then other times it’s just “F it.” The last statement – “you’d win some inner serenity if you accepted to walk the road of self-knowledge” might be great, yes, but since it’s the self considering the self I have my doubts!). However that’s how I F myself over – splitting myself in two, and so not fearing the emotions that go along with self discovery and just allowing them to be, might be the road to a better understanding of self, and integrating the two – extrovert/introvert.

    • Laura Thompson

      I took the full-on Myers Briggs also, administered by an educational psychologist. I tested out very highly as an Introvert, but as Nick says, it’s a spectrum, not an either/or, and we can go through different permutations, depending on our current life circumstances. I guess the true test is, do you get energized by being around people, or being alone? For me it’s without question my downtime.

      This past weekend was graduation for my niece, and out of town visiting family here for the occasion. I have had to be “on” since Thursday, and this past weekend was particularly exhausting to me, making a four hour drive, both ways, for a gathering at my sister’s, a lot of ferrying people about, and just being here and there among large groups of people. I love these people and feel close to them, but, I am about drained. Tonight will be the final night of their visit this time around, and then I can begin to recharge.

      People who don’t know me well might not realize how Introverted and socially awkward I really am! I can and do talk to just about anybody, and I’m not “shy” in the conventional sense of the word. I just need my alone time to exhale and recharge my batteries.

      I tried taking the test Nick posted, but halfway through, I got a pop up that looked like it might contain a virus, so I had to ex out of it. (I need better pop up protection on my Android, a different story for a different time. )

      So, I guess I’ll run with the results of my official Myers-Briggs, plus knowing myself and basing my conclusions on my life experiences, and go ahead and say I’m pretty darn introverted!

  2. Sylvester

    One thought on Watts – he said he was going to take it slow with NK. And that was insightful of him, because he was surrounded by the activities of his wife and kids for so long it’s not likely he would have wanted to jump right back into that – say for example, moving in with NK. Five weeks alone – he could spend the nights with NK but he was free to go home and be by himself too, experience quiet after work and I think he loved that. And he appreciated that she was an independent woman, living on her own, having her career but also a rich private life – rich with friends or activities that didn’t include him.

    • nickvdl

      I don’t think he wanted to take it slow, and I’m not convinced she did either. The sex part certainly wasn’t about taking it slow. The wining and dining in those last 6 weeks feels frenetic and rushed, but exciting, like a rollercoaster ride.

      • Kathleen

        First off, the book is out tommorow? Oh happy day!! 2nd off ( erm) I also scored private extrovert and appreciated your thoughts on the inner life of authors ( a weird bunch by any standards sigh) but really I’m writing to see if you find the endless comments about the disposal of the bodies as odd as I do? I mean as your lovely old school photo of Ron and Nicole, reminds us these things are never pretty, unless it’s Maddy McCann and Natalie Holloway for example, the David Copperfield disposal. Anyway I,m just confused by the outrage, I’ve seen worse and so have you, in fact Rebecca Zahau was loads worse, and no one seems to care about that at all, which brings me to my last question, did you watch the Oxygen documentary? Okay well anyway great news about book 8 and have a fine week, sales wise and otherwise too!

        • nickvdl

          Hi Kathleen. Yes I am aware of the Zahau documentary and have watched the first 10 ten minutes of it. A few people have emailed me recently about the case. As you can imagine, it’s a disservice to one’s readers to research another case while writing a book about a particular case. It’s important to each case – I feel – to maintain a laser focus.
          You may notice the book I wrote on Rebecca got about 6 reviews and a 7th recently. Despite some media interest in the case, the sales on my side have been flat. So as much as I care about the Zahau case and Rebecca’s story, it’s foolish to churn out books that no one reads. I did that with the Van Breda ax murders case, where I also attended many, many days in court, drove down for the verdict and sentencing, and stayed in hotels. As a full-time author it’s important to care about your content, and to see these people as people. but you’ve also got to pay attention to what your audience wants. Hopefully in the future when I have a bigger following I’ll be able to dictate a little more which stories are worth reading, but until then, it’s up to the audience.
          In any event, now that OBLIVION is done, I have some space available to watch that documentary from start to finish. Watch this space for some preliminary analysis.

          • Kathleen

            Hi Nick, yeah I totally get it, I’m just steaming because Adam Shacknai gave an interview saying “I wouldn’t waste my time killing Rebecca Zahau” and I mean, Jesus! If anyone can make it famous again, I think it’s you, I know her family would talk to you and they are really fine people. But till then write on man!

          • nickvdl

            I’m definitely not done with the Zahau case. But it may be a couple of months before I can return to it again. If the family want to talk to me that would be great.

          • Kathleen

            Oh that’s so great to hear. I,m on vacation at Arizona,s water holes this week ( just awaiting my beach book tommorow, or erm Rock swimming hole book as the case may be) but I,ll write them and Marty-one of their attorneys, as soon as I get home, yay you!

  3. Sylvester

    I know we are all so very grateful for your coverage of the Watts case, in your books, and on this blog – giving us all an opportunity to discuss it. You’re in demand! So many cases, and there is only one you.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks man. I had a few books on the boiler that had to be put on hold for this case. The third book in the Treachery series was about halfway done when the Watts case happened. Others were in the ready-and-waiting phase but had to be red-lighted.

      • Laura Thompson

        You’ve actually inspired me to want to write a book about a murder case that was HUGE here locally, about forty(!!!!!) years ago. I actually have mutual friends of both the murdered and the murderer, and I’m pretty sure they might be able to help me get interviews with the family, or even the murderer himself, who has since been released from prison. (Nowadays, with the stricter sentencing laws, it probably would be considered a capital murder case. His ass would be on death row or LWOP.)

        I don’t care if it never gets published officially, or gains any interest from outside our tri-county area. I just feel compelled to do some digging and investigating, and write something interesting about it.

        Thanks for being such a great writer and inspiration! Can’t wait to read Annihilation and Oblivion! (I’m behind…)

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