Extraverts are happiest with their lives, research reveals.
The reason is that extraverted people are more likely to look back nostalgically to the past, only remembering the good things that happened.
Extraverts — who are chatty and energetic — see the past through ‘rose-tinted glasses’.
Introverts are also happier with their lives if they look back with positivity and live their lives in the present moment.
People who are neurotic, though, tend to remember all the bad things that happened, while forgetting the good.
Unsurprisingly, neurotic people feel less happy about life.
This can be changed, though, by savouring happy memories and reframing negative ones.
Dr Ryan Howell, the study’s first author, explained:
“We found that highly extraverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets.
People high on the neurotic scale essentially have the exact opposite view of the past and are less happy as a result.”
For the study, people completed a series of surveys about their personality, life satisfaction and ‘time perspective’.
Time perspective refers to whether a person is oriented towards the past, present or future.
People who felt happiest were more likely to remember the positive aspects of the past and to live in the present moment.
Dr Howell said:
“We found that personality traits influence how people look at the past, present and future and it is these different perspectives on time which drive a person’s happiness.
This is good news because although it may be difficult to change your personality, you may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness, for example by savoring happy memories or reframing painful past experiences in a positive light.”
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 Personality and Individual Differences (Zhang & Howell, 2011).