People who are sadder and more introverted are the best natural psychologists, scoring highest on tests of human nature, new research finds.
The conclusion comes from a study in which people not trained in psychology were given tests of basic psychological phenomenon.
Along with being sadder and more introverted, those who scored highest were also smarter and more curious.
Mr Anton Gollwitzer, the study’s first author, said:
“It seems to be a case of sadder but wiser.
They don’t view the world through rose-colored glasses as jovial and extroverted people do.”
Some of the questions asked of over 1,000 people in the study included:
- Do people work harder in groups or as individuals?
- Do people feel more responsible for their behavior in groups or as individuals?
- Does catharsis work: If I am angry, will taking out my hostilities on a stuffed doll make me feel better?
The answers are: people tend to loaf in groups, they also feel less responsibility in groups and beating up a stuffed doll doesn’t release emotions.
The fact that introverted people do better on these tests is fascinating, Mr Gollwitzer said:
“It could be that the melancholic, introverted people are spending more time observing human nature than those who are busy interacting with others, or they are more accurate at introspection because they have fewer motivational biases.
Either way, though, this demonstrates an unappreciated strength of introverts.”
Being a good natural psychologist stems from having a more accurate view of oneself and of others, the researchers found.
Mr Gollwitzer said:
“These ‘natural’ social psychologists, because they better understand social phenomena, may be able to interpret and even predict social changes in our society — maybe they are exactly what is missing from our current governance and positions of power.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Social Psychology (Gollwitzer & Bargh, 2018).