Are extroverts happier than introverts?

Dan Murray-Serter, Co-Founder

I know you can be introverted, and you can be extroverted. But can you ever just be… verted?

Do you ever look at natural extroverts at parties and think you might be happier if you could be more like them—with their ease, room-captivation, and seeming lack of self-consciousness? The secret to boosting your own vivaciousness—and counteracting any introverted self-doubt could be to just... you know, fake it.

Studies have shown that pretending to be extroverted for just a week can lead to feeling more positive in real life.

The science of extroverts vs introverts

A study from the University of California asked 131 people to alter their behaviour to either include more extroverted, or more introverted traits—one week of each. For the extroverted week, the participants were encouraged to act as “talkative”, “assertive”, and “spontaneous”, as possible; and for the introverted week, they tried to act more “deliberate”, “quiet”, and “reserved”.

Throughout the study, participants reported how they were feeling, both positively and negatively. Compared with the emotions they felt on a general basis, they felt more positive emotions during the extroverted week, and experienced fewer positive emotions in the introverted week.

Specifically, feelings of connection and the act of being fully immersed in an activity were boosted when they were acting extroverted, and reduced when they were displaying introverted traits.

But, both introverted and extroverted weeks resulted in a reduction in negative emotions, compared to their normal levels. Interesting… So, perhaps that means that any change in behaviour could reduce negativity?

Does it pay to be ‘extra’?

It’s really down to the individual. Depending on your inherent personality type, forcing yourself to be extroverted could be detrimental to your wellbeing. In this American Psychological Association study from 2018, they found that highly introverted people didn’t get the same benefits of acting like an extrovert as many of the other participants. Instead, becoming tired and subject to more negative emotions.

So this is all to be taken with a pinch of salt - but could be worth a try.

It’s also worth noting, that it isn’t clear which facet of extroversion causes the change in wellbeing. It could be being more “talkative”, “assertive”, or “spontaneous”, or it could be a combo of all three, or some other behaviour that the individual deemed as more extroverted than normal for them.

Bottom line? Maybe try putting yourself out there more and see how you feel.

It’s not going to be enough to simply tell yourself you’re going to be more outgoing and sociable though. As you know, from this goals post, a good goal needs specifics.

So, figure out what you’ll do, make it SMART, and follow through.

FOR THE NERDY: The intros and extros of wellbeing. (The British Psychological Society)