Regardless of whether people are extraverts or introverts, if they are asked to act in an extraverted way, this improves their mood (for example Zelenski and others 2012). My question is concerns the reasons for why introverts don't engage in extraverted behavior. According to dual process models of behavior (for example Strack, Deutsch, 2014), human behavior is a combination of impulses and more reflective behavior (for example self-control). It strikes me that extraverted behavior is often quite impulsive (e.g. posting a funny picture of oneself on facebook). So, do introverts lack these impulses, or are they too inclined to keep them under control? Is there any research that has tried to disentangle the two processes?

  • $\begingroup$ Personal experience, speaking as an introvert: I have these impulses. Taking the example of posting a funny picture on Facebook, I do get the thought "this looks so funny, I should share this with people!". But then what you call "self-control" kicks in, and my mind asks: "Will people really care about this? What if someone misunderstands it? Should I write a clarifying comment beneath it? Is there anyone on my friendlist that I don't want to see this?" Result: I send the funny picture to my closest friend instead of sharing it with the world. $\endgroup$ – Jay P. May 6 '15 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ I would argue that your definition of extraverted behavior is off mark. Engaging in conversations with multiple people in real life or drifting from one circle to another at a party are examples of extraverted behavior. Posting a funny picture while being alone is not, and I doublt it would have the same mood lifting benefits (no mirror neuron activation, no emotional contagion) $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Aug 6 '15 at 18:04

This may not be a perfect answer to your question but it should be of help. Essentially, I think that research on personality suggests that self control (and thus a lack of impulsivity) may be part of the reason why introverts don't engage in extraverted behavior.

According to personality research on arousal [1], levels of extroversion and introversion are linked to peoples' arousal levels. Extroverts are argued to be under-aroused (in terms of brain arousal) therefore they seek out new stimuli, while the opposite is the case for introverts. Hence as introverts already over-aroused, they are more likely to avoid new stimuli.

While the research you have cited suggests that introverts would actually benefit from seeking more social interaction, the fact that they do not is not particularly surprising as humans frequently fail to act in ways that benefit themselves.



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