Does acting extroverted versus introverted affect how happy you feel?
In general terms, an extrovert feels invigorated when they are around people, and can be described as outgoing and energized by both friends and strangers.
An introvert often prefers to be alone, and would rather keep their attention inward than engage in dialogue or activities with a bunch of people.
Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum between extroversion and introversion.
According to happiness research, participating in more outgoing behaviors is associated with greater feelings of happiness. These outgoing behaviors could be greeting strangers, taking a few minutes to chat with co-workers, or going to the movies with friends. This is in contrast to avoiding social situations, ignoring passersby and spending most time alone.
Extroverts who follow their natural pattern of outgoing behavior report higher levels of happiness than most introverts. Interestingly, when those introverts challenge themselves to engage in a few more extroverted and outgoing behaviors they too start to score higher in overall happiness.
This is not to say that introverts need to copy extroverts, or put themselves in social situations where they know they will feel miserable. Instead, identifying some extroverted behaviors such as smiling at a neighbor, or saying good morning to a stranger who steps onto the elevator, can have a positive effect.
The other key to happiness is autonomy. Feeling happy is related to one’s sense of control over behavioral choices. For both extroverts and introverts, not feeling forced to be friendly or outgoing makes a difference. Situations that do not create pressure to act a certain way, and allow all personality types to engage in outgoing behavior that feels natural, leads to the greatest reports of overall happiness.
The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.
The manifestation of traits in everyday behavior and affect: A five-culture study, A. Timothy Church, et al., Journal of Research in Personality, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2013.10.002, published February 2014.
William Fleeson, Adriane B. Malanos, and Noelle M. Achille (2002) An Intraindividual Process Approach to the Relationship Between Extraversion and Positive Affect: Is Acting Extraverted as “Good” as Being Extraverted? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 83, No. 6, 1409 –1422