People who are extraverts typically have the happiest lives, research finds.
One reason is that extraverts are likely to remember their past more positively.
Extraverts tend to be energetic and chatty, seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses.
It turns out that introverts are also happier if they can look back on more positive memories.
Neurotic people, though, have a tendency to focus on negative events in their past.
Naturally, this makes them feel less happy in general.
Those with neurotic tendencies can counter this by reframing negative memories and making an effort to focus on positive events.
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.”
The study asked people about their satisfaction with life, personality and time perspective.
Time perspective refers to whether a person orients themselves towards the past, present or future.
The results showed that people who were happiest tended to remember the positive aspects of the past and live in the 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).