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Stress Management

Acting Extroverted Makes People Happier

Regardless of whether a person is shy or outgoing, being more talkative, adventurous, bold or assertive has a positive effect, according to a study conducted at Wake Forest University.

"Every single participant in the study was happier when he or she acted extroverted than when he or she acted introverted," said William Fleeson, associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest and co-author of the study. "Even introverts can act extroverted and become happier by changing their behavior."

Most extroverted behavior seems to have a positive impact on mood; singing out loud, talking to another person, asking a question in class or voicing an opinion all seem to work, he added.

People who tracked their moods for two weeks reported feeling happier when they acted in an outgoing manner, and less happy when they were quiet or reserved, the study found. Whenparticipating in group discussions in the lab, people who were instructed to act assertive andenergetic said they enjoyed themselves. When they were asked to act passive and shy, the same participants said they were unhappy in the situation and did not have fun, according to the findings.

Self-evaluations in this exercise matched upwith how the participants evaluated each other’s behavior and mood, Fleeson said. When people were asked to rate their levels of extroverted behavior and moods at the end of each week for 10 weeks, the results also suggested a strong connection between acting extroverted and greater happiness, he explained.

"As a society, we tend to think of happiness as something that comes from outside us," Fleeson said. "It’s kind of a radical idea thatwe have some control of happiness, that personality is a factor in happiness and that, to some extent, we have control over our personalities."

If people want to be happier and choose to act more outgoing, adventurous or assertive, then they have the power to improve their own well-being, he added.

"The research demonstrates that extroversion can actually cause happiness," Fleeson said.

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