Matthew Warren, BPS Research Digest.
Researchers have long known that people who are more extraverted tend to be happier, leading some to suggest that encouraging extraverted behaviour could improve wellbeing. Last year we reported on the first trial of such an intervention, which found that acting like an extravert for a week led to an increase in positive emotions in certain people. Now a second study appears to have replicated that result — and shown that behaving like an introvert may also reduce wellbeing.
In the new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Seth Margolis and Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California, Riverside, asked 131 participants to alter their behaviour over a two week period to be more extraverted or introverted. For one week, participants were encouraged to act as “talkative”, “assertive” and “spontaneous” as possible; for the other, they were told to act “deliberate”, “quiet” and “reserved” (all participants completed both weeks, but half began with the extraverted week while the others began with with the introverted week).
To encourage the participants to actually alter their behaviour, the researchers asked them to list five specific changes they planned on making, and then sent them periodic reminders of their task throughout the study. At various points across the two weeks, the participants completed scales measuring their experience of positive and negative emotions and others aspects of wellbeing, as well as their personality traits.