Unhappy? Try Acting Like an Extrovert

You Can Fake Your Way Into Being Happy, Study Suggests

From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 25, 2003 -- Feeling a little down? Maybe you can fake your way into happiness! You may have more control over your mood than you think. According to new research, people who choose to act more outgoing or assertive can actually improve their outlook on life.

The research is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In three complementary studies, William Fleeson and colleagues tracked the moods of more than 100 students.

In the first study, 46 students kept diaries for approximately two weeks. They reported feeling happier and more positive when they acted outgoing. When acting shy and reserved, their feelings were just the opposite.

The second study looked at long-term effects of acting like an extrovert. Once again, the 10-week study revealed that the 57 students in this portion of the study were happier when they acted more extroverted.

In the final study, 47 students were told to act either like an extrovert or introvert during a discussion group. Participants who were energetic and assertive had more fun and enjoyed the group while the passive and shy ones were unhappy in the situation.

Fleeson and colleagues suggest that personality influences happiness, and to some extent, we have control over our personalities. Individuals may have the potential to contribute directly to their own well-being by changing their behavior, says Fleeson.

SOURCE: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 2002.