Health and Wellness

Introverts, pretending to be an extrovert could make you happier

Criene | Twenty20

Some of the most successful business leaders identify as introverts, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett and former Yahoo CEO and president Marissa Mayer.

While these individuals are proof that quiet leadership can go a long way, a 2018 study suggests that introverts tend to make less money than extroverts, adding up to about half a million dollars less over the course of someone's career.

That said, "being introverted doesn't mean that one cannot try to mimic some of the behaviors that the extroverts have," Miriam Gensowski, Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of economics at the University of Copenhagen told NPR in April 2019.

In fact, faking it could have its own set of perks. A new study out of the University of California Riverside suggests that acting like an extrovert can make you feel substantially happier, even if you're an introvert.

For the study, 123 college-age people were instructed to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous, neutral traits that researchers associated with extroverts, for a week. The group was a mix of introverts and extroverts, so some people had to fake it.

The following week, the researchers flipped the instructions, and participants had to focus on being introverted. This meant acting deliberate, quiet and reserved.

Surprisingly, all participants' well-being scores were higher during the extrovert week and took a dip during the introvert one. "[People] got hugely happier relative to when they did the same thing and acted more introverted," Sojna Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., lead study author and psychologist at the University of California, Riverside tells CNBC Make It.

Even those who identified as introverts didn't report any negative effects, like fatigue, from their week faking it. (In the future, researchers hope to explore what the long-term effects of masquerading as an extrovert could be.)

This finding doesn't mean that introverts need to change their entire way of being to be happier or more successful. "Clearly there are great things about introversion, and we don't want to suggest that you shouldn't be introverted," Dr. Lyubomirsky says.

But the findings could give introverts incentive to tap into their more extroverted traits when they need to. Other research shows that social interactions make people happier, Dr. Lyubomirsky adds.

Changing your behavior for just one week appears to be an easy, feasible goal, Dr. Lyubomirsky says. And one that could significantly improve your well-being, she adds.

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