science of us

Most Introverts Would Like to Be More Extroverted

Photo: Razvan Chisu/EyeEm/Getty Images

For a group of people supposedly defined by our reticence, we introverts sure don’t shut up about how introverted we are. We hate talking on the phone and we hate being around other people and we love being alone — or do we? Do any of us even know what we’re talking about when we call ourselves introverted? Well, no. First of all, the term can refer to at least four different types, which may or may not overlap. Even more condemning is new research which suggests that many introverts would like to be more extroverted than they are.

In their study, researchers asked more than 300 Australian adults to assess their agreement with a number of questions designed to measure introversion, and then to answer a number of questions designed to assess how much (if at all) subjects wanted to be more extroverted. More than half (53.6 percent) of participants reported wanting to be more extroverted than they were, regardless of where they fell along the introversion scale, and 82 percent of participants said they felt it necessary to display extroverted traits more often than introverted traits in their daily lives.

An important caveat to this finding is that participants were also nearly unanimous (96 percent!) in their belief that extroversion is more “socially desirable” than introversion — which might mean that participants want acceptance more than they specifically want to be more outgoing, for instance. The study’s authors also interpret their results to mean that introverts who are able to become more accepting of their introversion are more authentic, and are thus better off.

One wonders, then, if #introvertproblems are more informed by culturally informed insecurity than genuine superiority, and if when we brag about not wanting to go to parties, we are really pleading to be invited to parties. Who can say.

Most Introverts Would Like to Be More Extroverted