How Extroversion in Personality Influences Behavior

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In the big 5 theory of personality, extroversion (often known as extraversion) is one of the five core traits believed to make up human personality. Extroversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and excitability.

People who are high in extroversion tend to seek out social stimulation and opportunities to engage with others. These individuals are often described as being full of life, energy, and positivity. In group situations, extroverts (extraverts) are likely to talk often and assert themselves.

Introverts, on the other hand, are people who are low in extroversion. They tend to be quiet, reserved and less involved in social situations. It is important to note that introversion and shyness are not the same.

People low in extroversion are not afraid of social situations. They simply prefer to spend more time alone and do not need as much social stimulation.

Extroverts are often unfairly stereotyped as overly talkative or attention-seeking. In reality, they simply gain energy from engaging in social interaction. People who are high in extroversion need social stimulation to feel energized. They gain inspiration and excitement from talking and discussing ideas with other people.

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Signs You May Be An Extrovert

Common Extroversion Traits

Extroversion is often marked by a number of different sub-traits. An extrovert may be:

  • Action-oriented
  • Assertive
  • Cheerful
  • Engaging
  • Happy being the center of attention
  • Friendly
  • Gregarious
  • Novelty- and excitement-seeking
  • Talkative
  • Warm

Causes of Extroversion

The exact reason why people tend to be more extroverted or more introverted has been the subject of considerable debate and research in psychology. As with many such debates, the question tends to boil down to two key contributors: nature and nurture.

  • Genetics: Extroversion clearly has a strong genetic component. Twin studies suggest that genetics contribute somewhere between 40% and 60% of the variance between extroversion and introversion.
  • Environment: Sibling studies published in 2011 have suggested that individual experiences carry greater weight than do shared experiences in families.

Variability in this trait may be linked to differences in cortical arousal. Extroverts tend to need more external stimulation, while introverts tend to become stimulated very easily, according to some researchers.

Extroversion and Behavior

How does extroversion affect behavior? Researchers have found that being high in this personality trait is linked to a number of different tendencies. In addition to contributing to personality, this trait may also play a role in career choices.

According to researchers, extroversion is associated with leadership behavior. Since extroverts are more likely to assert themselves in groups, it makes sense that they often take on leadership roles when working with other people.

Those high in extroversion are often described as having a very positive outlook on life as well as being friendly, energetic, and highly adaptable.

As you might imagine, high levels of extroversion can be particularly well suited to jobs that require a great deal of interaction with other people. These might includes jobs in teaching, sales, marketing, public relations, and politics.

Introverts prefer less social interaction, so jobs that require lots of independent work are often ideal. Writing, computer programming, engineering, and accounting might appeal to a person low in extroversion.

How Common Is Extroversion?

While it might seem like everyone in your circle of friends and acquaintances is more extroverted than you, research indicates that extroversion is less common than previously thought.

In a study published in 2015, researchers found that extroverts tend to be overrepresented in social networks. Because outgoing, popular people tend to have a lot of friends, they are disproportionately represented in social networks.

The researchers also suggested that there are two key factors that determine who people become friends with. Extroverts tend to be very sociable, making them more likely to form new friendships than introverts. People also tend to form friendships with people with similar levels of extroversion as themselves.

While extroverts are more likely to become friends with other extroverts, introverts tend to forge relationships with both introverts and extroverts. To extroverts, it seems like most people are also extroverted because that personality trait is overrepresented among their group of friends and acquaintances. Introverts, however, might have a better grasp of the true structure of social networks.

Can You Become More Extroverted?

If you tend to be more introverted, you might wonder if it's possible to become more extroverted. One 2020 study found that wanting to become more extroverted was one of the most common personal development goals.

This likely stems from the fact that extroversion tends to be more celebrated in modern society. Extroverts seem to gain social acceptance more readily, so there is little wonder that many people might want to enjoy that perceived ease when it comes to group belongingness.

Psychologists suggest that a complete shift in your underlying personality is unlikely. Personality has a strong genetic component, and studies generally show that the broad dimensions that underlie personality are relatively stable throughout life. In other words, you're not likely to be able to change from a reserved introvert to an outgoing extrovert.

However, you can adopt more extroverted habits. Or, at the very least, you can take steps to feel more comfortable and confident in social situations.

Adopt Extroverted Habits

While you might be naturally inclined to spend more time alone or with a small group of close friends, you can act outgoing for periods when needed. For example, if you're meeting a new client at work or attending a social event with your partner, you might try to act like an extrovert.

Research suggests that some aspects of personality can be adopted by making them a habit. So if you learn to become more extroverted in certain settings, you'll be more likely to shift into that mode when you find yourself in those situations.

Be Intentional

Acting extroverted in social situations can be draining for most introverts. One way to deal with this is to adopt extroverted tendencies in cases that offer the most significant benefit. For example, you might try acting more extroverted at work or in social relationships.

Trying to be extroverted all of the time can lead to exhaustion and burnout. Being intentional about when you act more extroverted can ensure that you are not overdoing it.

Schedule Downtime

After "extroverting" in areas of your life that require it, you'll likely reach a point where you feel exhausted by the amount of social contact you're experiencing. Planning some alone time is a great way to recharge and restore your energy levels. 

Avoid Limiting Self-Beliefs

If you think you can't do something because you are not extroverted enough (such as giving a presentation at work or attending a social event), spend some time examining your self-beliefs and self-talk.

Instead of believing that your abilities are set in stone, practice developing more positive self-beliefs focused on the things you can change. You might not think that you can change your entire personality (nor would you even want to). Instead, you might tell yourself, "I can be more outgoing at the Christmas party," or "I am capable of giving a great presentation." 

Recap

If you tend to be more of an introvert, it is possible to "fake" extroverted traits in order to adopt more extroverted habits. Just make sure that you are practicing positive self-talk and scheduling time for yourself to recharge.

A Word From Verywell

Extroversion is a type of personality characterized by talkativeness, assertiveness, and warmth. While strongly influenced by genetics, upbringing and life experiences can also affect how outgoing you are in different areas of your life. 

It is important to remember that extroversion and introversion represent a continuum. While some people might tend to be at either of the two extremes, most people are somewhere in the middle.

If you are more of an extrovert, you probably still enjoy some time to yourself to unwind from time to time. And if you tend to be more of an introvert, you can find ways to adopt more extroverted habits as needed. In either case, learning more about your personality can give you a greater understanding of yourself, your preferences, and your needs.

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