Are Extroverts Happier Than Introverts?

Side view of arguing couple

I am an extrovert who does an introvert’s job. I’ve worked from home for most of my life in the most solitary of pursuits: writer. Which is why, at the end of the day when many people just want to come home and relax, I want to get out and be around other people.

My wife is also an extrovert. She’s the first person to arrive at parties and the last person to leave. As a stay-at-home mom, she’s in about four different Mommy groups and has social activities planned every single day. Our daughter just started pre-school and she instantly took on the role of Class Mom. Finally, as a former international corporate party planner, she hosts all sorts of things at our place: wine tastings, karaoke nights, fondue dinner parties, big backyard barbecues, family pool parties, etc.

If one of us was introverted, the other would have to make consistent sacrifices – by either sublimating our desire to be social or by forcing ourselves to be around other people.

This is a huge source of our compatibility and a huge source of our happiness. If one of us was introverted, the other would have to make consistent sacrifices – by either sublimating our desire to be social or by forcing ourselves to be around other people. The only way it could work is for both parties to agree to disagree and let their spouse do what he/she sees fit. He stays home and reads, she goes on a girls spa weekend. She stays late at her friend’s birthday dinner, he takes a separate car and leaves early. It’s not ideal, but it can work.

With that said, I ran across this long and interesting piece about introversion/extroversion and its effects on our happiness. What I discovered was sort of validating if not exactly surprising.

“Perhaps one of the most important (and consistent) findings in E/I research is that extroverts are overall happier than introverts, and this increased happiness lasts for decades. Scientists have struggled to pinpoint the cause of extroverts’ happiness, though they are certainly not without ideas.

Researchers have proposed that extroverts may feel greater happiness than introverts because they are more sensitive to rewarding social situations (as seen above). On the other hand, others have suggested that extroverts are happier because they engage in more social activities. Some scientists think that extroverts’ perpetual happiness stems from their greater mood regulation abilities. Or maybe they’re happy because they hold on tightly to all of those good memories.”

It must be difficult to succeed in a world that doesn’t value introversion – and nowhere is that more apparent than dating.

If you’re an introvert, you’re probably getting annoyed right now. How dare anyone say that extroverts are happier than you are! Remember, this is science – it’s not reflecting societal bias, it’s just reporting its findings. But here’s a nugget that might make you feel better:

“At the same time, however, scientists have questioned whether extroverts really are happier, or if they’re just more declarative with their feelings. There’s also the issue of how, exactly, you define and measure “happiness.” Whatever the case, extroverts and introverts likely benefit from different happiness increasing strategies, given the inherent differences in the personality types.”

I have a lot of introverted clients and I genuinely feel for them. Not in a patronizing way, but with pure compassion. It must be difficult to succeed in a world that doesn’t value introversion – and nowhere is that more apparent than dating. All of the people who have said to me, “I’m really actually quite funny when you get to know me” are not calculating that if you don’t bring the funny on the first date, there ain’t gonna be a second. Thankfully, there’s a passionate introvert who is attempting to find coping strategies for her fellow quiet types:

“In a recent book on introversion, author Susan Cain explains that although introverts make up a third to a half of the population, Western society — the United States, in particular — is extroversion-centric. She notes that schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts, under the belief that collaboration is key to creativity and productivity (the opposite of which is true for introverts). What’s more, extroverted traits, such as being a gregarious “people person,” are highly valued in today’s society, and this can make introverts feel like something is wrong with them (and perhaps, make the unhappy). She calls for a new system that gives introverts the solitude they need to thrive.”

Click here to read the full article and please, share your thoughts on introversion, extroversion, and happiness below.

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