Q: Why do extraverts report to be happier than introverts?

In a recent study conducted by Keirsey.com’s research division, we found that the greatest factor in happiness can be one’s personality type.  74% of extraverts reported that they are happy, as opposed to only 56% of introverts.  And looking at the flip side of the equation, 26% of introverts reported that they are unhappy, while only 14% of extraverts reported unhappiness.  When I look at these survey results, there are two possible explanations that come to mind:

First, I would say that those who prefer extraversion are expressive by nature, and tend to say their words aloud (external-talk), and in this way are much more likely to verbalize their thoughts to those around them.  Those who prefer introversion on the other hand, are more reserved by nature, and tend to say their words to themselves (self-talk), and in this way are much more likely to hold their thoughts in an internal conversation with themselves.  What this means is that ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ are either spoken to others, or spoken to oneself.  In general, it appears that when individuals have the chance to share ‘the good’ with others, it leads to an increase in happiness, and when individuals are able to share ‘the bad and the ugly’ with others, it decreases the level of unhappiness felt within.  Talking aloud to others works in a similar way that “Talk Therapy” does—it allows for people to share their elation and their sorrow—to laugh together in celebration, or to simply ‘get things off their chest.’”

Secondly, According to Dr. Keirsey, Introversion is associated with being ‘attentive’ (in addition to being ‘reserved’).  What this means is that those who prefer introversion are more likely to pay closer attention to their unhappiness, while those who prefer extraversion are less inclined to do so.  Whether you prefer introversion or extraversion, all of us have our fair share of unhappy circumstances—the difference is in how much we pay attention to our thoughts/feelings.  And because those who prefer introversion are much more aware of their unhappiness, the results show up the way they do.  In some ways, the phrase, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is the differentiator here—Those preferring extraversion aren’t inclined to be as aware of their unhappiness (or when they are, they talk about it immediately), whereas those preferring introversion are much more aware of their internal state (and are likely to keep it to themselves—and/or stew in their own juices).  Whether you agree or disagree, I am curious to hear your thoughts/feelings on this issue of who’s happier.

6 thoughts on “Q: Why do extraverts report to be happier than introverts?”

  1. As an extravert (Idealist Champion), I can only comment on my own experience. I tend to be more happy on balance, than unhappy, except when someone tramples on my values and then I find myself reacting in fiercely emotional ways, expressing myself verbally or, preferably, in writing where I can express in more deliberate ways. I do ‘beat myself up’ though, if I upset people or if I’m criticised. I do have a dislike of conflict but find that I can’t remain silent on issues of unfairness or injustice and am willing to risk trouble if I think that it’s important to vent my spleen about such matters. I feel that I have better control and am able to deliver a more considered response when I am able to express in writing.

  2. I am a Protector Guardian and this post makes sense to me. I think I am at the high end of introversion and keep many things to myself. This is because it is more comfortable for me do so. I do understand, however, that I could work things out in a more balanced manner if I did voice my feelings and thoughts more often. When I do make an effort to be more outgoing (even doing something like listening to loud music) I feel more light-hearted. Being more extraverted, in small doses, does make me feel happier; the ‘in small doses’ is important!

  3. I scored as a Strategic Contender (Mastermind) first time I took the Keirsey test, and that is still my working hypothesis.

    To me it seems that extraverts may be very unhappy if they have to spend too much time alone. On the other hand, they do more in order to get out of that state. Introverts, on the other hand, especially the extreme ones, seem to find happiness in solitary activities, especially related to nature.

    As to the validity of the findings, I would think there could be some faulty results here, as people who are depressing may be more introvert in style than people who are not depressing, so their inner and outer circumstances may be reflected in their answers more than their actual personal style. I don’t find it easy always to tell those two apart.

  4. I am not quite sure what I am, I do open up easily, sometimes too easily…but only to certain people. Other times I prefer to ”stew on my own ” as it were. Then I really stew, and yet one kind word and it all bubbles out. I am inclined to voice my feelings, share and thus come to understand what I am unhappy about and work around it to fix it. I have also found that by writing about the little things that tend to bug us, Also brings a release from them…I sometimes would explore the ins and outs, and spend ages writing about it, then I would read it again, crumple it up and throw it away, but I would feel better afterwards. In General I would say that I am an extovert, happy most of the time, talk to much without thinking, but there are times when one gets negative, not many, and then jump to conclusions too quickly…my biggest downfall ! Instead of looking at the situation calmly and thinking it thru.

  5. I wonder whether there would be a difference between how ‘happy’ extraverts would report themselves to be & how happy others would report them to be? I am an extravert & I’m sure I would report myself to be fairly happy, but probably as much because I want to be happy and believe in happiness as I believe in ideals generally. Perhaps those who have heard all my external processing of sadness would give a distinctly different answer?

    Actually, what is the criteria for happiness? Acting or feeling or something else?

  6. Im an introvert an archictet specifically. If the finding is valid which it may or may not be.- Admittedly there is a great deal of room for error in the testing categorisation of introverted versus extraverted preferences. However if it valid this may be a reflection of the extent to which we live in a society which is dominated by an extraverted ideology. Capitalism the system which constrains and contructs soical relations places a great deal of emphasis on material objects which are the product of labour. Introversion is characterised by a greater concern for the subject while extraversion is chracterised by a greater convern for the object. society with capitalism as its foundation caters to the extraverted concern for and with material objects. Therefore society as it exists is perfectly suited to the extravert and inherently opposed to the introvert. Thiis may explain the unhappiness of introverts if the finding here is valid.- this is perhaps a highly Jungian analysis.-but this seems appropriate given it was he who developed the notion of extraversion and introversion as a aligned with the philosophical notion of subject–object relations.

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