Are Extroverts Happier Than Introverts?

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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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  1. 21

    I’m an introvert and my boyfriend is an extrovert. I love being social, but I need to recharge afterwards. He can go on and on without recharging. For us it requires constant negotiation. I think it’s important to honor my introversion and for him to honor his extroversion. So he’s constantly sending me email about different social activities. If an event is too much for me I tell him “the introvert in me is screaming – NO.” He understands. In return for that understanding, I will accompany him on the social activities that I know are particularly important to him.

  2. 22

    I’m an extrovert who I dated an introvert for many years, and the hardest part was understanding what he was feeling at any given moment. He just wasn’t comfortable expressing emotion — even smiling seemed unnatural for him. He wasn’t depressed at all, just very much in his shell. Finally his job transferred him to another office in a distant city, and we just let the relationship go. All along he’d told me he was happy, but not enough to stay, apparently.

    I’m reluctant to date another introvert.

    1. 22.1

      I hope you give us another chance.

      In the end him leaving had little to do with introversion or extroversion. His career came first.

  3. 23

    Ive also read that a lot of extroverts have personality disorders. And in defense of introverts, most people who ever contributed anything to society have been introverts.

    1. 23.1

      There are no shortages of people willing to write an article that would say something like, introverts are more productive to society and extroverts are flawed. First, saying that will generate a buzz for the writer. I’ve watched message boards and seen where controversial topics or statements generate high post counts, while tame statements, reasonable statements largely go unnoticed. Anything that does not say that introverts and extroverts have not contributed equally to the advancement of society, should be rejected as hyperbole.

      I had a professor who studied the Myers-Briggs and was qualified to teach it, and wrote his own very extensive test. It had hundreds of questions.

      We were given the tests to do in class the first day and could take it home to finish it if need be. On the 3rd day of class, he passed out our results. he had people totally freaked out because he would say stuff about an individual that was personal and inner thought in nature. One guy told him to get out of his head, LOL.

      Anyway, the point is that he allowed half the class to pair up and most did so based on their Meyers-Briggs personality without even knowing it. Almost always choosing people that were nearly identical to themselves. The other half, he paired up using the personality types, but put opposites together. After a few projects, the results were in. Those who paired up on their own were outperformed by those who were forced to pair up with an opposite. The team that had the highest scores was an older white conservative man who was an introvert, and a young gay Filipino guy who had long hair, piercings, jewelry, make-up and tattoos. Often, they had their projects nearly finished before even leaving class and would agree to stay after class for a short time to finish it, or get it to the point where one or the other would put the finishing touches on it at home. both sad it was an eye opening experience for them and both openly stated that they could see that where they had a strength, the other had a weakness, and vice versa. The teams that paired up with somebody like themselves struggled to get the projects done. It is an eye opening experience that teaches you to learn to value others who are not like you. We all bring a piece of the puzzle to the table.

  4. 24

    Strangely I would have said the opposite : that introvert are more likely to be happy
    As an introvert I am happy by myself and don’t need to be around people to feel good about myself. The more I age the more I feel that it is a strength to be able to be yourself without needing others around you approving you to make you happy.

  5. 25
    in defense of introverts

    Introverted/extroverted is a poorly understood concept. An introvert can be the life of the party, it’s just that at the end of the night they can’t wait to get home and recharge for a while.

    Introverted does not mean socially inept. Introverted does not mean depressed and anti social. Introverts does not mean weird. All it means is that they draw their energy from within rather than from other people, that they prefer to process information internally rather than externally. An introvert prefers to go off on their own and work to to find a solution rather than brainstorm in a group. An introvert prefers to recharge alone or with a small group of close friends rather than at a bar. One is not better than the other, just different.

    Introverts and extroverts can make each other happy as long as they aren’t trying to change each other completely. If he hates going to parties, you may be able to drag him to a few a year which is likely good for him to step out if his comfort zone once in a while, but he’s never going to become a party animal. You have to be okay with that.

  6. 26

    Yes, it is that extroverts  are more declarative/demonstrative of their upbeat moods, which is not the same as happy. Happy can be a quiet contentment too. Happy can be a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. It doesn’t mean you are high-energy and smiling all the time. There may be  extrovert bias in way happiness is defined.

    I often feel things much more deeply than I appear to, including positive emotions.

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