Why are extraverts happier?

Posted on March 18, 2014

Numerous personality studies have found the same pattern time and again - extraverts tend to be happier than introverts. But why? A popular theory holds that extraverts are happier because they find fun activities more enjoyable, as if they have a more responsive "pleasure system" in their brains than introverts.

Wido Oerlemans and Arnold Bakker recruited 1,364 Dutch participants (average age 45; 86 per cent were female) to complete a detailed retrospective record of one or more days. The research used the "Day Reconstruction Method", which involves the participants recalling the previous day's activities in chronological order, who they were with, what they were doing, and how they felt during each activity. In total 5,595 days were examined in this way.

A key finding is that extraverts reported more happiness than introverts during what the researchers defined as effortful "rewarding" activities, such as sports and exercise, and financially rewarding work tasks. In contrast, there was no difference in extraverts' and introverts' happiness during merely low effort, low importance "pleasurable, hedonic" activities, such as watching TV, listening to music, relaxing, and shopping.

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Source material from British Psychololgical Society

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