Would it be bold of me to suggest that personality is arguably the most fundamental way someone can be categorized? Personality is the most intimate difference between people; after all, it is unique to each of us. What I’ve gathered is that there are two main types of personalities that we fall into: the outgoing and talkative extrovert, and the reserved and less talkative introvert. I tend to fall into the latter group, thus explaining why I’m completely fine with being alone for five hours at a time looking this stuff up. So I stumbled upon a report on Psychology Today claiming we Introverts aren’t having as much fun as Extroverts. Admittedly, I was kind of offended. But of course it got me think
ing; does being more outgoing automatically mean you are a happier person? Are we introverts destined for mediocre happiness compared to extroverts?
Research has shown there is a clear correlation between personality and the way people convey emotions(Interplay, Pg.252). That being said, extroverts have been deemed the happier personality types, since they have reported more positive emotions in everyday life than introverted individuals (Interplay,Pg.252). Furthermore, research done at Wake Forest University showed that people who simply acted more extroverted also felt happier. So if you’ve been singing out loud to that Daft Punk song on the radio, striked a conversation with an attractive person whilst clubbing, or even asked a question in class, congratulations, you were just acting extroverted. Those are examples of what introverted participants tried out for two weeks in the study. Engaging in outgoing actions like these in turn made people report more satisfaction and happiness, even if they weren’t naturally extroverted.
While it may be true that people felt happier while behaving extroverted, it may also be safe to say that behaving extroverted just depends on the amount of doses. For example, as an introvert, I’m just as happy going to lunch with some extrovert friends, but only for so long. Then it starts to get tiring for me to give my fully engaged input about what your ex texted you for the thousandth time. On the other hand, extroverts can go on for an extended amount of time saying the same thing to you in eight different ways, each way as exuberant as the next. If one is introverted, we are naturally more likely to enjoy lower stimulation activities; it’s merely how our brains are programmed. If being curled up with a cup of tea reading Sylvia Plath makes your heart beat a little faster, you probably fall into the introvert category. To an introvert, satisfaction is more likely to be gained from reaping the benefits of solitude and maintaining intimate friendships with a select few(PsychologyToday 1). Therefore, happiness is a matter of preference, and highly subjective.
While studies suggest that extroverts show more excitement than introverts, it is important to note that there’s more than one way to exemplify happiness. There is the happiness of gratitude(Psychology Today 1), which is more intrinsically motivated. This is when introverts find happiness in the simple things; watching the sunset, sharing an intimate dinner with a partner, or being immersed in a good book. Ultimately, the way people define their happiness is linked with their personality types; there is no wrong or right way to reach this state of being.
Digging deeply into the realm of personality and emotional happiness, one will find evidence that supports the idea that while acting out-going can lead to happiness, it may not be the ideal way for introverts. The thing about introverts is that we cannot keep this extroverted front up all day; it’s mentally and physically exhausting. Psychologists bring up the interesting point that researchers “didn’t explore the energy costs for introverts behaving extroverted,”(Psychology Today 2). Now it makes sense that I’m so damn tired after I’ve been at my boyfriend’s family event; constantly putting myself out there to provide witty banter or input on conversation with people I hardly know is hard. Extroverts may never feel this exhaustion of constantly being gregarious, because they are always motivated by outside factors, according to Carl Jung. Which brings me to my next case; I do envy you extroverts. You make socializing look so effortless, and dare I say…fun?
I don’t think psychologists or anyone for that matter have the right to say that one group is happier than the other; we just have different ways of expressing and attaining our happiness that in turn reflects our personality type. I don’t expect an extrovert to have as great of a time hanging out in Barnes and Noble for three hours as I do. It’s more realistic for psychologists, scientists, or whoever the hell is watching to unbiasedly view us in our natural elements, and find that we can be just as happy as each other.