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Emotion. 2012 Apr;12(2):290-303. doi: 10.1037/a0025169. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Would introverts be better off if they acted more like extraverts? Exploring emotional and cognitive consequences of counterdispositional behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


People enjoy acting extraverted, and this seems to apply equally across the dispositional introversion-extraversion dimension (Fleeson, Malanos, & Achille, 2002). It follows that dispositional introverts might improve their happiness by acting more extraverted, yet little research has examined potential costs of this strategy. In two studies, we assessed dispositions, randomly assigned participants to act introverted or extraverted, and examined costs-both emotional (concurrent negative affect) and cognitive (Stroop performance). Results replicated and extended past findings suggesting that acting extraverted produces hedonic benefits regardless of disposition. Positive affect increased and negative affect did not, even for participants acting out of character. In contrast, we found evidence that acting counterdispositionally could produce poor Stroop performance, but this effect was limited to dispositional extraverts who were assigned to act introverted. We suggest that the positive affect produced by introverts' extraverted behavior may buffer the potentially depleting effects of counterdispositional behavior, and we consider alternative explanations. We conclude that dispositional introverts may indeed benefit from acting extraverted more often and caution that dispositional extraverts may want to adopt introverted behavior strategically, as it could induce cognitive costs or self-regulatory depletion more generally.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

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