Extroverts Might Secretly Be Introverts Too, According To This Study

If you feel the need to crash after being around people for a long time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an introvert. Although it’s common to associate this need to recharge after socializing with introversion, a study from researchers in Finland suggests that introverts and extroverts find social interaction exhausting. So if you’re completely worn out after a party, it may have less to do with your personality type than with the fact that people are simply tiring.

Researchers Sointu Leikas and Ville-Juhani Ilmarinen from the University of Helsinki conducted surveys among 48 participants to see how people’s day-to-day moods and behaviors relate to the “Big Five” personality traits. These five major personality factors include extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Previous research has shown that people display all five traits throughout their daily lives, regardless of whether they generally think of themselves as intro- or extroverted.

For this study, published in the Journal of Personality, the researchers looked at how different personality traits affected mood and behavior over time. They had participants fill out questionnaires about their moods and activities on their smartphones five times a day for 12 days. The surveys thus allowed the researchers to study both how people were feeling in the moment and how certain activities affected them as the day progressed.

They found that, when participants acted in extroverted ways, they exhibited positive feelings and low fatigue, which is in keeping with previous research that has shown that extroverted behavior leads to feelings of happiness. However, they also found that three hours after participants exhibited extroversion, they were more tired. Significantly, introverts showed the same level of exhaustion as extroverts after behaving in an extroverted way (such as socializing). Thus, having a more introverted disposition does not mean that you are more fatigued by social interaction than other people. When asked what, therefore, is the difference between introverts and extroverts, Leikas told the Huffington post, “We don’t know at the moment.” Leikas suggested that extroverts may simply behave in extroverted ways more frequently than introverts, they may have larger friend groups, or they may tend to dominate social situations.

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The researchers found that fatigue following social interaction didn’t make their participants feel that their day as a whole was worse or more difficult. Leikas explained, “I think these tiring effects tend to fade away and you recover quickly. On the other hand, we know that social interaction is good for many people. OK, it may make you a bit tired, but it doesn’t exhaust you in the long run.” So engaging in extroverted behaviors is generally a positive thing — just prepared to feel tired afterward.

Images: Ravi Roshan/Unsplash; Giphy