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Archive for January 18th, 2008

Are extroverts happier?

The research points in that direction.

While the actual mechanism remains unclear, a number of different studies seem to suggest that on average those people labeled as “extroverted” tend to be happier both in the short-term and long-term.

But there are some interesting subtleties to the research.

For example, two researchers seemed to demonstrate that extroverts have higher average levels of positive emotions because they react more positively than introverts to the same daily stimuli and events. In other words, it’s that reaction that contributes to their overall well-being.

Meanwhile, other findings seem to contradict a long-held belief.

Many people assume that because extroverted people gain high levels of satisfaction through social interactions and relationships (think traveling salesperson or social butterfly), those social interactions are the primary reason for their happiness. Conversely, if you don’t have similar kinds of social relationships, then you won’t be as happy.

However, one study suggests that extroverts are also happier than introverts whether they live alone or with others, work in nonsocial jobs or in social jobs, or live in rural or urban areas. In fact, another study shows that extroverts do not spend more time with others, although they were still happier than introverts.

All of this research confirms the overwhelming belief in research circles that heredity plays a very strong (although not exclusive) role in one’s ongoing level of happiness or unhappiness.

What does this mean for people who are introverted?

It does not mean they can’t or won’t be happy, but it does suggest that they may need to pay a lot more attention to their needs in order to counteract the potential negative effects from hereditary forces.

Source: Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. By: Diener, Ed, Suh, Eunkook M., Lucas, Richard E., Smith, Heidi L., Psychological Bulletin, 00332909, 19990301, Vol. 125, Issue 2

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