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Why being an extrovert will bring you happiness

A study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside shows how being extroverted  - whether for real or faked - improves wellbeing

If you are an extrovert, well, congratulations! But if you are not, no worries at all. Introverts have excellent qualities and they can also benefit from the wellbeing that extrovert-type behaviour brings, according to a new report by the University of California, Riverside. The researches recruited 123 participants for their study and asked them to act like extroverts for one week.

The volunteers had to be as talkative, assertive and spontaneous as they could during that time and swap to being quieter and reserved the following week. The results of this experiment were clear. Participants reported greater wellbeing after their week of extroversion and a decrease in wellbeing after the week they exhibited introversion. Those who faked being extroverts reported no discomfort or ill effects.

40 per cent of the ability to be happy depends on our mental strategy

"The findings suggest that changing one's social behaviour is a realizable goal for many people and that behaving in an extraverted way improves wellbeing," said study co-author and psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. The expert has been devoted to studying human happiness for the majority of her research career and has several books on the market on the subject. In The Science of Happiness, Sonja writes about how around just ten per cent of happiness is influenced by external factors such as money, looks or status. The ability to be happy is inherent in 50 per cent, and the remaining 40 per cent depends on what we do or what we think. To sum up, it depends on our mental strategies.

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This is the reason why this new study is important: "It showed that a manipulation to increase extraverted behaviour substantially improved wellbeing," Dr Lyubomirsky said. "Manipulating personality-relevant behaviour over as long as a week may be easier than previously thought, and the effects can be surprisingly powerful."

The researchers now hope to expand their work by studying the effects of faking extroversion for a longer period and aim to pick a different set of people from diverse ages and backgrounds.

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