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Acting Like an Extrovert Has Benefits But Not for Introverts

A group of amateur figure skaters enjoying a day at a frozen lake together.

For decades, personality psychologists have noticed a striking, consistent pattern: extroverts are happier more of the time than introverts. For anyone interested in promoting wellbeing, this has raised the question of whether it might be beneficial to encourage people to act more extroverted. Evidence to date has suggested it might.

For example, regardless of their usual disposition, people tend to report feeling happier and more authentic whenever they are behaving more like an extrovert (that is, more sociable, active and assertive). That’s a mere correlation that could be interpreted in different ways. But lab studies have similarly found that prompting people, including introverts, to act more like an extrovert makes them feel happier and truer to themselves.

Before we all start doing our best extrovert impressions in pursuit of greater happiness, though, a team of researchers led by the psychologist Rowan Jacques-Hamilton at the University of Melbourne urge caution, writing in a paper at PsyArXiv: ‘Until we have a well-rounded understanding of both the positive and negative consequences of extroverted behaviour, advocating any real-world applications of acting extroverted could be premature and potentially hazardous.’

To get to the bottom of things, the team conducted the first ever randomised controlled trial of an ‘act more extroverted’ intervention but, unlike previous research, they looked beyond the lab at the positive and negative effects on people’s feelings in daily life.

Dozens of participants were allocated at random to either the ‘act like an extrovert’ condition or to an ‘act unassuming, sensitive, calm and modest’ control condition; the idea was that this control condition would encourage the adoption of behaviours representative of several of the other main personality traits, such as agreeableness and emotional stability.

There was also a second control group that completed some of the same measures but did not follow any instructions to change their behaviour from what it naturally was.

The true aims of the study were concealed from the participants and they didn’t know about the conditions they weren’t in. For the extrovert and first control groups, their challenge was to follow the behavioural instructions they’d been given for seven days straight whenever interacting with others in their daily lives (though not if doing so would be inappropriate for the situation they were in).

The participants completed baseline and follow-up surveys about their feelings and behaviour. Through the seven-day period of the study they also answered in-the-moment psychological surveys six times a day whenever prompted by their smartphones. Their phones also gave them periodic reminders to alter their behaviour according to the experimental group they were in.

For the average participant, being in the ‘act like an extrovert’ condition was associated with more positive emotions (excited, lively and enthusiastic) than those reported in the calmer control group – both in the moment, and in retrospect, when looking back on the week. Compared with the second control condition, in which participants behaved naturally, benefit from extroverted behaviour was seen only retrospectively. On average, participants in the ‘act extroverted’ condition also felt greater momentary and retrospective authenticity. These benefits came without any adverse effects in terms of levels of tiredness or experience of negative emotion.

‘Thus,’ write the researchers, ‘the main effects of the intervention were wholly positive, and no costs of extroverted behaviour were detected for the average participant.’ The advantages were to a large extent mediated by participants acting more extroverted more often – though, interestingly, not by being in more social situations: ie, by changing the quality of their social interactions, not the quantity of them.

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But the story does not end there, because the researchers also looked specifically at the introverts in their sample to see whether the apparently cost-free positive benefits of the ‘act extroverted’ intervention also manifested for them. Although previous research has suggested that both introverts and extroverts alike benefit just the same from acting more extroverted, this was not the case here.

First and unsurprisingly, introverts did not succeed in increasing their extroverted behaviour as much as other participants. And while the introverts in the ‘act like an extrovert’ condition did enjoy momentary gains in positive emotion, they did not report this benefit in retrospect at the end of the study. Unlike extroverts, they also did not show momentary gains in authenticity, and in retrospect they reported lower authenticity. The ‘act extroverted’ intervention also appeared to increase introverts’ retrospective fatigue levels and experience of negative emotions.

Jacques-Hamilton and his team said that these were perhaps their most important findings – ‘dispositional introverts may reap fewer wellbeing benefits, and perhaps even incur some wellbeing costs, from acting more extroverted’. They also made an important point that strong introverts might not desire to experience positive emotions as frequently as extroverts.

However, the idea that introverts could gain from learning to be more extroverted, more often, is not dead. Not only because this is just one study and more research is needed, but also because those acting more extroverted did, after all, still report more positive emotions in the moment than the control group asked to maintain calm. This group’s failure to report more pleasure in retrospect could, after all, reflect a memory bias – perhaps mirroring earlier research, which showed that introverts do not expect that acting extroverted would make them feel good.

Also consider this: the one-size-fits-all extroversion intervention provided little guidance on how exactly to achieve the aim of acting more extroverted. It’s possible that a less intense version, together with support and guidance to make any behavioural changes become habitual (and therefore less effortful), could help even strong introverts enjoy the benefits of acting more extroverted. ‘By allowing more freedom to return to an introverted “restorative niche”, a less intensive intervention might also result in fewer costs to negative affect, authenticity and tiredness,’ the researchers added.

By: Christian Jarrett

Christian Jarrett is a senior editor at Aeon, working on the forthcoming Psyche website that will take a multidisciplinary approach to the age-old question of how to live. A cognitive neuroscientist by training, his writing has appeared in BBC Future, WIRED and New York Magazine, among others. His books include The Rough Guide to Psychology (2011) and Great Myths of the Brain (2014). His next, on personality change, will be published in 2021.

Originally published in association with The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, an Aeon Partner.

Source: Acting Like an Extrovert Has Benefits, but Not for Introverts – Aeon – Pocket

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9 Signs You’re Overdue for a Mental Health Day

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As a culture, we tend to toss around the phrase “mental health day,” joking about these kinds of sick days as if they’re somehow less important than those we take to recover from being physically ill. And the worst part? Even with all the joking, few of us actually cash in on the vacation and sick time that’s part of our total compensation from our employers, which means that we’re way backed up on our self-care.

The truth is that mental health days are genuinely important, and if you have the flexibility to take time off from work to tend to this part of your well-being, you absolutely should. Keep scrolling for nine signs that, according to experts, it’s time to take a break for your own good.

1. Your tolerance for other humans has reached an all-time low. Are you shutting down your coworkers more quickly than usual? Reacting emotionally to feedback from your boss? Snapping at your partner or kids even after you’ve gone home? If this sounds familiar, certified life coach and co-founder of the Conscious Coaching Collective Dr. Ariane Machín, PhD advises that you treat yourself to a day off.

2. You have to talk yourself into going to work. “Does it take you several minutes to actually leave your car after you arrive in the morning?” asks mental health therapist and Transcendence Counseling Center LLC owner Jessica Singh. “Often, this type of avoidance is a sign that something is wrong. This could be from a work-life imbalance, anxiety, boredom, or a lack of support at work.” It’s only a lucky few who feel genuinely excited to get to the office every day, but if you’re having to actively psych yourself up to make it happen at all, a mental health day is in order.

3. Your sleep is out of whack. When we experience elevated stress during the day, those annoying stress hormones keep firing well into the night, making it all the more difficult for us to fall asleep. This state, according to hormone and gynecological health expert Dr. Nisha Jackson, PhD, can leave our bodies completely confused, making us feel wired through the night and exhausted during the day. A restful mental health day is a good first step to get back on track.

4. You’re struggling to manage your emotions. You’re crying more frequently than usual. You’re angry and you’re not sure why. You’ve lost total control of your feelings, and your usual emotional coping mechanisms are letting you down. Per wholeness coach Jenn Bovee, these are all cues that it’s time to pump the brakes on your normal routine.

5. You can’t focus. If your mental health is suffering, you may find that it manifests physically and behaviorally, so stay tuned in to how your body and brain are working. “When you are no longer able to focus extended periods of time and attention toward completing your duties, chances are you may need a mental health day or two to reset your brain,” licensed mental health counselor and Grey’s Counseling Services founder Jovica Grey tells us. Even a single day off may be just what you need to come back with the concentration you need to succeed!

6. You’re not enjoying anything you do. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect that the good times will roll 24/7 — especially during office hours — but when you can’t bring yourself to find joy in anything, that’s a big red flag. “When we start to reach a state of burnout, we usually stop enjoying things — even the things that used to bring us joy,” explains licensed marriage therapist and Wright Wellness Center co-founder Rachel Wright. “Once you’re resenting the work, it’s definitely time to take a mental health day.”

7. You can’t make decisions. “It’s time to take a mental health day when you can’t, for the life of you, make a decision,” says licensed psychotherapist and coach Tess Brigham. “You’ve hit decision fatigue, which happens when we have too many decisions to make. We get decision fatigue not because we have to make too many decisions but because we’re lacking energy and focus.” Stop beating yourself up if you’re struggling to make choices. Instead, consider it a potential cue that you need to give yourself a break (literally).

8. You’re routinely getting sick. Cold and flu season is one thing, but don’t eliminate the possibility that constant illness is actually pointing to something happening below the surface. “We know from research that physical and mental health are strongly linked, so if you’re getting ill a lot, then it’s a sign that you need to take some time to get yourself back into balance,” reveals online fitness coach Emma Green.

9. You can’t remember the last time you took time off. If you’re scratching your head trying to recall the last time you were out of the office, let us be the first to inform you that you’ve got a problem on your hands! You deserve some down time. Mental health and emotional well-being expert Kim Roberts tells us that regular mental health days are critical for maintaining healthy relationships with our minds, so make sure they’re coming up on the calendar at least every few months.

By: Alli Hoff Kosik

Alli Hoff Kosik is a freelance writer who is passionate about reading, running, rainbow sprinkles, her lipstick collection, watching embarrassing reality TV, and drinking pink wine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and (in her dreams, at least) three golden retriever puppies. Listen to her talk books on The SSR Podcast.

New Psychological Studies: How The Wealthy Really Are Different From Everyone Else

"The rich don’t go with the flow"

The author F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with saying: “The rich are different from you and me.” And Ernest Hemingway is supposed to have responded: “Yes, they have more money.” In fact, the actual words Fitzgerald used in his short story “The Rich Boy” (1926) are: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

People have always suspected that the rich are somehow ‘different,’ not only in terms of what they possess, but in their personalities. However, there are not many scientific studies that can either confirm or refute this thesis – neither in the United States, nor in Europe. Now, a team of six German economists and psychologists has conducted a large-scale study: They interviewed 130 wealthy individuals and used the results to derive a psychological profile, which they compared with the population as a whole.

Big Five Test

Of the various models developed by psychological researchers to describe personality types, it is the Big Five model that has largely come to dominate over the past few decades. This latest wealth study used a condensed version of the Big Five test to distinguish between five core personality traits:

Conscientious: Describes people who are thorough, meticulous, diligent, efficient, well organized,  punctual, ambitious and persevering.

Neuroticism: Individuals with a high degree of Neuroticism tend to be nervous and frequently worry about everything and anything that could possibly go wrong. They tend to react impulsively and, overall, are not particularly psychologically stable.

Agreeableness: Individuals with high levels of Agreeableness have a pronounced desire for harmony; they have a tendency to back down too quickly and are frequently too trusting.

Extraversion: Individuals with high Extraversion are talkative, determined, enterprising, energetic, and courageous.

Openness to Experience: Individuals with high Openness to Experience are imaginative, creative, and curious.

When you compare the personality traits of the general population with those of the researchers’ wealthy interviewees, the following patterns emerge:

  • The rich are emotionally more stable, and therefore less neurotic
  • The rich are especially extraverted
  • The rich are more open to new experiences
  • The rich are less agreeable, which means they less likely to shy away from conflicts
  • The rich are more conscientious.

In addition to the Big Five test, the researchers also investigated two other personality traits: narcissism and internal locus of control. Their findings:

  • The rich are more narcissistic
  • The rich exhibit a stronger internal locus of control. This means that they are more likely to agree with statements such as “I determine how my life turns out” than they are with statements like “What you achieve in life is mainly a question of luck or fate.”

What Makes the Superrich Tick

The results of this latest wealth study are consistent with those of my doctoral dissertation on “The Wealth Elite,” which was based on interviews with 45 wealthy individuals. With only a few exceptions, most of the interviewees were self-made millionaires, and the ‘poorest’ were worth between 10 million and 30 million euros. Most, however, were worth significantly more, between 30 million and one billion euros, and some even more.

This study on the psychology of the superrich also came to the conclusion that the rich are psychologically very stable (i.e. not very neurotic). It also showed that they are particularly open to new experiences, more extraverted, more conscientious – but not necessarily agreeable.

In contrast to the recent survey of 130 wealthy individuals mentioned above, the study of the superrich involved in-depth interviews of between one and two hours each. In addition, the superrich interviewees not only completed a condensed version of the Big Five test, they took the detailed version with 50 questions.

One of the key findings was that the superrich are frequently nonconformists. They enjoy swimming against the prevailing current and have no problem contradicting prevailing opinion. Another result: the superrich are more likely than others to make decisions based on gut feeling. They tend to rely more on intuition than on detailed analysis.

And, most importantly, they have a completely different approach to dealing with defeats and setbacks than most people. Across the population at large, people like to take credit for their successes while looking to assign the blame to others for defeats and setbacks. In this, the superrich are quite different, as the interviews showed: They seek to identify the causes of setbacks in themselves, not in external circumstances or other people. This gives them a feeling of power: “If the fault lies with me, I can change it. I am in control of my own life.” There are many reasons why some people succeed in becoming rich and others don’t, but the specific combination of personality traits that both studies identified is certainly one of the reasons. Rich people become rich because they act differently from others. And they act differently because they think, make decisions and react differently than most people. Apparently, Fitzgerald was right: “The rich are different from you and me.”

I was awarded my first doctorate in history in 1986 and my second, this time in sociology, in 2016.

Source: New Psychological Studies: How The Wealthy Really Are Different From Everyone Else

11 Secrets Of Irresistible People

Image result for Irresistible People

Some people, regardless of what they lack—money, looks, or social connections—always radiate with energy and confidence. Even the most skeptical individuals find themselves enamored with these charming personalities.

These people are the life of every party. They’re the ones you turn to for help, advice, and companionship.

You just can’t get enough of them, and they leave you asking yourself, “What do they have that I don’t? What makes them so irresistible?”

The difference? Their sense of self-worth comes from within.

Irresistible people aren’t constantly searching for validation, because they’re confident enough to find it in themselves. There are certain habits they pursue every day to maintain this healthy perspective.

Since being irresistible isn’t the result of dumb luck, it’s time to study the habits of irresistible people so that you can use them to your benefit.

Get ready to say “hello” to a new, more irresistible you.

1. They Treat Everyone With Respect

Whether interacting with their biggest client or a server taking their drink order, irresistible people are unfailingly polite and respectful. They understand that—no matter how nice they are to the person they’re having lunch with—it’s all for naught if that person witnesses them behaving badly toward someone else. Irresistible people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else.

2. They Follow The Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated—has a fatal flaw: it assumes that all people want to be treated the same way. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.

The Platinum Rule—treat others as they want to be treated—corrects that flaw. Irresistible people are great at reading other people, and they adjust their behavior and style to make others feel comfortable.

3. They Ditch The Small Talk

There’s no surer way to prevent an emotional connection from forming during a conversation than by sticking to small talk. When you robotically approach people with small talk this puts their brains on autopilot and prevents them from having any real affinity for you. Irresistible people create connection and find depth even in short, every day conversations. Their genuine interest in other people makes it easy for them to ask good questions and relate what they’re told to other important facets of the speaker’s life.

4. They Focus On People More Than Anything Else

Irresistible people possess an authentic interest in those around them. As a result, they don’t spend much time thinking about themselves. They don’t obsess over how well they’re liked, because they’re too busy focusing on the people they’re with. It’s what makes their irresistibility seem so effortless.

To put this habit to work for you, try putting down the smart phone and focusing on the people you’re with. Focus on what they’re saying, not what your response will be, or how what they’re saying will affect you. When people tell you something about themselves, follow up with open-ended questions to draw them out even more.

5. They Don’t Try Too Hard

Irresistible people don’t dominate the conversation with stories about how smart and successful they are. It’s not that they’re resisting the urge to brag. The thought doesn’t even occur to them because they know how unlikeable people are who try too hard to get others to like them.

6. They Recognize The Difference Between Fact And Opinion

Irresistible people handle controversial topics and touchy subjects with grace and poise. They don’t shrink from sharing their opinions, but they make it clear that they’re opinions, not facts. Whether discussing global warming, politics, vaccine schedules, or GMO foods, irresistible people recognize that many people who are just as intelligent as they are see things differently.

7. They Are Authentic

Irresistible people are who they are. Nobody has to burn up energy or brainpower trying to guess their agenda or predict what they’ll do next. They do this because they know that no one likes a fake.

People gravitate toward authentic individuals because they know they can trust them. It’s easy to resist someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.

8. They Have Integrity

People with high integrity are irresistible because they walk their talk, plain and simple. Integrity is a simple concept but a difficult thing to practice. To demonstrate integrity every day, irresistible people follow through, they avoid talking bad about other people, and they do the right thing, even when it hurts.

9. They Smile

People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to find you irresistible, smile at them during conversations and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

10. They Make An Effort To Look Their Best (Just Not Too Much Of An Effort)

There’s a massive difference between being presentable and being vain. Irresistible people understand that making an effort to look your best is comparable to cleaning your house before company comes—it’s a sign of respect for others. But once they’ve made themselves presentable, they stop thinking about it.

11. They Find Reasons To Love Life

Irresistible people are positive and passionate. They’re never bored, because they see life as an amazing adventure and approach it with a joy that other people want to be a part of.

It’s not that irresistible people don’t have problems—even big ones—but they approach problems as temporary obstacles, not inescapable fate. When things go wrong, they remind themselves that a bad day is just one day, and they keep hope that tomorrow or next week or next month will be better.

Bringing It All Together

Irresistible people did not have fairy godmothers hovering over their cribs. They’ve simply perfected certain appealing qualities and habits that anyone can adopt as their own.

They think about other people more than they think about themselves, and they make other people feel liked, respected, understood, and seen. Just remember: the more you focus on others, the more irresistible you’ll be.

What other qualities make people irresistible? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founded TalentSmart.

I am the author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart, a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies an…

Source: 11 Secrets Of Irresistible People

How To Get Over a Breakup, According to Science – Andrew Gregory

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The aftermath of a breakup can be devastating. Most people emerge from it intact, but research has shown that the end of a romantic relationship can lead to insomnia, intrusive thoughts and even reduced immune function. While in the throes of a breakup, even the most motivated people can have a difficult time determining how best to get on with their lives.

Now, in a small new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers tested a variety of cognitive strategies and found one that worked the best for helping people get over a breakup.

The researchers gathered a group of 24 heartbroken people, ages 20-37, who had been in a long-term relationship for an average of 2.5 years. Some had been dumped, while others had ended their relationship, but all were upset about it—and most still loved their exes. In a series of prompts, they were coached using three cognitive strategies intended to help them move on.

The first strategy was to negatively reappraise their ex. The person was asked to mull over the unfavorable aspects of their lover, like a particularly annoying habit. By highlighting the ex’s negative traits, the idea goes, the blow will be softened.

In another prompt, called love reappraisal, people were told to read and believe statements of acceptance, like “It’s ok to love someone I’m not longer with.” Instead of fighting how they feel, they were told to accept their feelings of love as perfectly normal without judgment.

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The third strategy was distraction: to think about positive things unrelated to the ex, like a favorite food. Just as distracting oneself can help reduce cravings, it may also help a person overcome the persistent thoughts that come with a breakup.

A fourth prompt—the control condition—didn’t ask them to think about anything in particular. Next, the researchers showed everyone a photo of their ex—a realistic touch, since these often pop up in real life on social media. They measured the intensity of emotion in response to the photo using electrodes placed on the posterior of the scalp.

The EEG reading of the late positive potential (LPP) is a measure of not only emotion but motivated attention, or to what degree the person is captivated by the photo. In addition, the researchers measured how positive or negative the people felt and how much love they felt for the ex using a scale and questionnaire.

According to the EEG readings, all three strategies significantly decreased people’s emotional response to the photos relative to their responses in the control trials, which didn’t use prompts. However, only people who looked at their lover in a negative light also had a decrease in feelings of love toward their ex. But these people also reported being in a worse mood than when they started—suggesting that these negative thoughts, although helpful for moving on, may be distressing in the short term.

Distraction, on the other hand, made people feel better overall, but had no effect on how much they still loved their ex-partner. “Distraction is a form of avoidance, which has been shown to reduce the recovery from a breakup,” says study co-author Sandra Langeslag, director of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, so the strategy should be used sparingly to boost mood in the short term.

Love reappraisal showed no effect on either love or mood, but still dulled the emotional response to the photo. The authors classify love for another person as a learned motivation, similar to thirst or hunger, that pushes a person toward their partner in thought and in behavior.

That can in turn elicit different emotions based on the situation. When love is reciprocated, one can feel joy, or, in the case of a breakup, persistent love feelings are associated with sadness and difficulty recovering an independent sense of self.

Classifying love as a motivation is controversial in the field; other experts believe that love is an emotion, like anger, or a script, like riding a bike. However, the endurance of love feelings (which last much longer than a typical bout of anger or joy), the complexity of these feelings (both positive and negative) and the intensity of infatuation all signal a motivation, the authors write.

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To get over a breakup, heartbroken people change their way of thinking, which takes time. Just as it can be challenging to fight other motivations like food or drug cravings, “love regulation doesn’t work like an on/off switch,” Langeslag says. “To make a lasting change, you’ll probably have to regulate your love feelings regularly,” because the effects likely wear off after a short time.

Writing a list of as many negative things about your ex as you can think of once a day until you feel better may be effective, she says. Though this exercise tends to make people feel worse, Langeslag says that this effect goes away. Her past research found that negative reappraisal also decreased infatuation and attachment to the ex, so it will make you feel better in the long run, she says.

The findings are particularly relevant in the age of social media, when photos of exes, and the resulting pangs of love, may come up frequently. “All three strategies may make it easier for people to deal with encounters and reminders of the ex-partner in real-life and on social media,” Langeslag says.

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