Sorry fellow introverts. In news that you can file under “Things You Wish You Had Never Heard,” apparently you’ll be happier if you fake it. Being an extrovert, that is.
I’ll just give you a moment to process this disturbing news.
Clearly this study was thought up by some perky extrovert who organizes mandatory social gatherings for fun ***shudder*** and just cannot accept that introverts are actually HAPPY, alone. We’re happy dammit.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Riverside, and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, was made up of 123 college students. Researchers instructed the participants to engage in both extraverted and introverted behavior, each for one week. And no, that is not a typo. They used the term extraverted. They claim it’s because of its prior use in academia. Uh-huh. (Obviously the researchers themselves are EXTRA-verted.)
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an extrovert is defined as: “A gregarious and unreserved person.” For the sake of the study, it was characterized as being “talkative,” “assertive,” and “spontaneous,” with participants forcing these behaviors as much as possible during the first week. Can we say, torture?
The second week saw the students acting as introverts: “deliberate,” “quiet,” and “reserved.” During both weeks the participants were asked to document their behavior and report on their well-being. Researchers found that:
Participants increased in well-being when they were assigned to act extraverted and decreased in well-being when they were assigned to act introverted.
In addition, they also concluded that “Forcible extroversion did not cause any discomfort or awkwardness for the participants involved.”
I hate to break it to you extroverts, but we introverts are masters at saying exactly what you want to hear just so we can get rid of you quickly. It’s our defense mechanism and it’s worked for thousands of years. Not saying this is what actually happened in the study. Buuuuuut…
As an introvert, I can say, without a doubt, striking up conversations with strangers and being assertive IS AWKWARD. Look, it’s not that introverts don’t like people. We like people. Mostly. We like to have deep, meaningful connections. We just happen to prefer them in small doses, one-on-one. For limited periods of time. For every few hours of social interaction, we need another hour of solitude to decompress and recharge.
And we’re not lazy. Do you know how much energy it takes engaging in small-talk, chit-chatting about the weather and Little Johnny’s warts? Or having to endure an evening at our kid’s school silent auction fundraiser? Or being trapped at the neighborhood block party, not wanting to seem anti-social (even though we are).
But let’s ignore all of that, shall we? Let’s go ahead and force being extroverts. Let’s don our ugly Christmas sweaters and
drag ourselves skip merrily along to the office holiday party with Donna, and Sharon, and Dave. Because it’ll make us happier (I know, I could barely even type out the words. This feels so wrong.)
And just in case you’re on the fence and wondering if you are, in fact, an introvert, here’s a handy guide:
Signs You May Be An Introvert:
- You’ve barely used your phone as an actual phone in years. You communicate mostly via texts and emails.
- The mere thought of public speaking makes you break out in hives.
- You park in your garage to avoid talking to your neighbors, even when you’re just running into the house to grab something you forgot.
- You dodge people you know at the grocery store and pray that they don’t see you.
- You would rather have a root canal, minus the freezing, than do “team-building” with your co-workers.
- You make plans and then secretly hope someone will cancel them.
- Instead of FOMO (fear of missing out) you have JOMO (joy of missing out).
- You have mastered ninja moves to avoid being seen by someone who comes unannounced to the front door.
- Sometimes you like to speak with a foreign accent and pretend you don’t speak English.
Introverts like spending some introspective time alone. We don’t need studies to tell us we should be more extroverted. As hard as it may be for the peopley-loving people out there to believe, we’re happy just the way we are. Blissfully alone.