Are introverts really that keen on being introverts? According to new research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, introverts want to be more like extroverts — but not for the reasons you might think. According to researchers, extroverted characteristics, like being more outgoing or assertive, are "socially desirable in individualistic Western cultures" like in the United States or Australia, where the study was conducted. In those societies, says the researchers, there’s evidence that suggests extroverts fit in better with the rest of society, which makes them happier than their introverted counterparts. Within that context, the researchers asked introverts whether they wanted to be more extroverted. The overwhelming response? Um, heck yes!
According to The Cut, the researchers asked more than 300 Australian adults a series of questions to measure their level of introversion, followed by a series of questions to assess the level at which they wanted to be more extroverted. More than half of the participants reported wanting to be more extroverted than they currently were, says The Cut, and 82 percent said they felt it was necessary to act extroverted more often than they acted introverted in their daily lives. And almost all the participants (96 percent) said they believe extroversion is more “socially desirable” than introversion, The Cut reports.
The results of this study are similar to Susan Cain’s work on introversion and extroversion, which originally came out in 2012. In her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” Cain lays out how Western culture values extroverted traits over introverted traits, and it starts as early as preschool. According to BBC News, Cain said that most institutions — from schools to workplaces — are set up to accommodate extroverts. "Whether it is job adverts using words such as 'upbeat, people person and team players,’ practices like open-plan offices or brainstorming, the overall ability to put yourself out there is the great value of the age,” Cain told BBC News back in 2012.
But according to Business Insider, simply being more extroverted isn’t as simple as it sounds. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, told Business Insider that a person’s level of introversion or extroversion is in their DNA, so it’s not something that you can just change. "It has to do with what's called the need for arousal," Blair told Business Insider. "This is not sexual arousal, but it's a need to be stimulated before you act — before you can do what you want to do."
Introverts have a lot of the chemical that makes them feel stimulated, while extroverts don’t have enough, says Business Insider. That’s why introverts typically avoid crowded places or situations that make them feel stressed, and extroverts want that pressure, Business Insider reports. "It has nothing to do with confidence,” Blair told Business Insider. “It has to do with pressure and arousal. How extroverted or introverted you are is something you need to wear. You need to work with it, live with it, and use it to your advantage."
The researchers of this latest study did say that they believe introverts in the West might be happier if they can change their beliefs so they are more accepting of their introversion — meaning, instead of trying to become more extroverted, try to accept their lovely introverted selves. After all, why change who you are if you’re already awesome to begin with?