5 Reasons Extraverts Are Happier

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 09, 2014

Are people happy because they’re extraverts, or are they extraverts because they’re happy?

Decades’ worth of research has shown that some people tend to enjoy their lives just a little bit more, experiencing higher highs and greater levels of momentary happiness than others. They’re called extraverts. In one study done by Wido G. M. Oerlemans and Arnold B. Bakker, they note:

“One of the most robust findings in personality research is that extraverts are happier than introverts.”1 

Science has shown it, but what connects extraversion with happiness? 

What Is an Extravert?

Like the other Big Five personality dimensions, extraversion is a dimension of personality that falls on a spectrum. Those who are more highly extraverted tend to be:

  • Sociable
  • Talkative
  • Energetic
  • Assertive

Extraversion is also associated with excitability. As an extravert, I can attest that we easily get excited about any number of things, and this is consistent with the extravert tendency to intentionally seek arousal and excitement. We like a lot of stimulation and find it energizing and enlivening, rather than draining.  

Those with low extraversion, more commonly referred to as introverts, seem to have a diminished threshold for arousal. They don’t tend to get as jazzed up or actively attempt to seek the same level of stimulation and excitability as extraverts. They may even avoid it. Words like “mellow,” “reserved” and “introspective” more commonly describe introverts. 

New Science on Extraversion

A few recent studies are taking a look at the extraversion dimension with fresh eyes, particularly the link between extraversion and happiness. Are extraverts actually happier? And if so, why? Is happiness, rather than sociability (as originally thought), the most essential element of extraversion? 

It turns out that extraverts are indeed happier, and not just by a little bit. Happiness is so closely linked to extraversion that researchers are now suggesting that increased happiness levels might essentially sum up what it means to be an extravert after all. But why is this? What is it about extraverts that causes them to score so much higher on the happiness meter?

Why Are Extraverts Happier?

1. Extraverts Are Wired Differently

In short, it’s partly a biological thing. While it isn’t fully explained, researchers know that for extraverts, something in the brain gets more charged up and excited; the highs are simply higher. 

For most of the things they do in life, whether in work or play, extraverts experience a higher level of happiness than their introvert counterparts when doing the same things. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more content than introverts, but rather that they do experience higher levels of in-the-moment happiness than introverts when performing the same activities in the same contexts. 

2. Extraverts Know What Makes Them Happy

Extraverts are highly sensitive to activities, situations and contexts that produce a reward or some favorable outcome. Rewards, in this context, could include social interactions, work that is personally fulfilling and financially rewarding, exercise or sport, achieving a goal, creating art, etc.

This connects to the biological point mentioned above. Think of extravert and introvert brains as Microsoft Word. You have a document full of great things. When the extravert brain hits “save,” the document saves in full clarity and its exact location is remembered so that it can be opened and reopened again and again. There might even be a few popups and push notifications prompting one to reopen and have more fun. 

When the introvert hits “save,” however, the file might get a little muddled. No one is exactly sure where it saved to, and whether or not it gets opened again is of no real importance. There are no push notifications. Although introverts may experience enjoyment and a sense of reward, it won’t “save” as deeply or effectively. They’re simply less sensitive to the reward experience.

3. Extraverts Go After What They Want

Because extraverts are so sensitive to high-reward situations, they’re highly motivated to pursue more of the same activities, which of course produces more happiness. Thus, one thing just naturally leads to another. They keep the momentum going and continue making more deposits in the happy account.  

Introverts, on the other hand, may have experienced reward from some activity or context, but they generally won’t be quite as driven to pursue it again and again. They may even forget they enjoyed it the first time around when a similar situation or opportunity arises. They have less awareness of what really makes them happy and lower energy and drive for pursuing these rewarding situations. 

4. Extraverts Know People = Happiness

Extraverts and social tendencies simply go hand in hand. And because social activity produces higher levels of happiness for all people—yes, introverts it’s true—extraverts reap more of the happiness harvest because they’re intentionally filling their time with social activity or bringing others into the experience of daily life. 

Since introverts are less attuned to the reward produced by social interaction, they’ll also be less motivated to try to reproduce it. Extraverts, by contrast, are well aware that they enjoy social, collaborative environments and activities, so they prioritize them, thus raising their happiness quotient even more.  

5. Because That’s What Being an Extravert Is All About

Happiness, more than sociability, may actually be the more central core of this personality dimension. It’s really a question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Are extraverts happier because they pursue the activities, people and life situations that boost happiness and excitability, or is there another reason these two qualities are associated? Science continues to investigate the mystery. 

Stay tuned for more on the science of extraversion and introversion and how you can be happier no matter what your type is!



Oerlemans, W. G. M., & Bakker, A. B. (2014). Why extraverts are happier: A day reconstruction study. Journal of Research in Personality, 50, 11-22.


1 Oerlemans, W.G. M., & Bakker, A. B. (2014).

Jacki Christopher

Jacki Christopher is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia with interests in personality and relationships, small business development and communications. She is an ENFJ.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


kitty3jose says...

I wonder if extraverts are born with it or if they learn? Ever since I was a little girl I was always the one that was being silly, I had a nickname called "silly girl" or "crazy girl" when I was growing up. Being a sensitive person back then, I felt hurt when my siblings called me nicknames. I was really quiet and unhappy for nickname calling. Long story short, I made some good friends along the way and they told me about church and believing in Jesus! That was the time, I began to change! First time to be with a group of people going to church, doing things together, that was the time I begin to be social with people and I like it and I was happy. I am friendly and smile or say "Hello" to strangers. I can't ignore people when people look at me. Different to my reaction years ago which was "why are you looking at me?" But now I've learned that it's better to smile back and make eye contact. The end result was positive. Also, I believe having a strong faith helped me to grow up, otherwise where would I be today?

Janelle (not verified) says...

Love it!!! I totally agree! I was raised by fearful parents that did not enjoy life. I always thought I was an introvert because I was shy but it was low self-worth. What I have learned through Christ is that I am loved, valued and that I don't have to be afraid. As my joy has increased in who I am I am not an introvert anymore. I love me more so now I naturally love other people more. I have grown into an extrovert and a cycle of enjoying life more has started.

Guest (not verified) says...

Well. If this isn't the most biased article I've ever read.

Stone (not verified) says...

This is nonsense.

"Happiness...may actually be the more central core of this personality dimension."


I've seen no evidence this is true. I also know of no scientific evidence which says introverts are less happy. They might feel more isolated early in life, before they get comfortable with themselves. The ability to enjoy time alone is a trait rewarded as we mature.

I would not generalize too much. Having said that, let me generalize a bit.

Most of the extroverts I know really well seem to crave human interaction to a point they can't be happy alone with themselves. This creates a desperation to meet people, to spend time with people, which leads them to making a lot of bad decisions about the friends they keep. My extrovert friends spend time with a high percentage of users, manipulators, and degenerates. And they complain about them...often.

I'm not saying introverts make great decisions...meeting fewer people means a person has fewer friend options. It evens out. It's a matter of making good decisions.

Finally, introverts' memories are not muddled. Most of the ones I've met have really good memories.

Idar (not verified) says...

I mean, when you think about it .... it makes sense. Days when we feel happy, aren't we more sociable, excitable, outgoing and energetic? Some of the traits used to describe extraverts? And when we feel down, we don't feel like talking to people, we're much more mellow, and less excitable.

Guest (not verified) says...

Introverts don't think sociability is synonymous with happiness. That's the whole point. So if you do a study that uses sociability as a key component of happiness, of course you're going to find that extraverts are happier.

Studies generally show a strong link between extraversion and happiness because most studies define "happiness" in a way that's insanely biased towards extraverts. They basically just found that extraverts are more likely to be extraverted.

But clueless people take these results as gospel and conclude that introverts are incapable of enjoyment just because they don't envision happiness the same way extraverts do.

Guest (not verified) says...

I couldn't agree more. Notice that the author uses "we" to describe extraverts. This article is clearly biased. As a card carrying INTJ, I feel that the ability to be content when alone is a great gift. I often feel sorry for those extraverts who constantly seek validation and attention from others.

Guest (not verified) says...

There is definitely some truth to this whether I'd like to admit it or not, but in this article it seems framed very unconstructively. It sounds like either you are born happy or miserable, and if you're born miserable, too bad.

The whole realm of personality typing should really exist, not to define people, but to help them grow and realize their weak spots; not to be made into a defining identity that you can be proud of or use as an excuse for problems. At the same time reading this felt like a stab in the chest, and I guess only because I have identified myself as an introvert, and therefore, according to this i am less capable of happiness.

vlb says...

"The whole realm of personality typing should really exist, not to define people, but to help them grow"

This is the entire point underlying Psychological Type (aka MBTI or Jungian Type) (but not the Big Five.

vlb says...

I don't think we (Innies) "have less awareness of what really makes [us] happy". I think it's more that we experience happiness differently. We don't need a Big Buzz and a lot of Enthusiasm and Excitement. We're low key.

We _define_ happiness differently!

NewHarbinger.com blog: happiness-introverted-perspective-lets-be-quiet-and-mindful
PsychologyToday.com blog: the-buddha-was-introvert/201311/are-extroverts-really-happier

hfontaine (not verified) says...

Funny how, although there are clearly logical reasons for this, but that the people b****ing on this thread are introverts, even a couple of them throwing out bogus insults, which may throw something at whether introverts are unhappier at large. However I understand their point of view at the same time. One point in the article at least sounds of logic: that an extravert takes in more from the world, is more energized and reactive to events. That would mean the intensity of their feelings (including happiness) may be higher in given physical situations. But then turning this womans argument on its head, while an extrovert may or may not prooritize certain activities over and over again as a source for happiness, that only means they will be more discontented when they are out of their element. Even under her interpretation, an introvert then would be more likely patient and accepting. Given at least these two sources of information, I would suggest that an introvert may be more easily content than an extrovert, while an extrovert may experience higher peaks (conpare it to a car with high fuel economy, to one with a higher top speed). At end I must say though, it is introverts that I personally find more often jealous, vindictive and critical. Often it almost feels as if I'm receiving judgment from a person who does not actually live, but rather "thinks" life. They are undoubtedly however, both important domains of life (the objective vs the subjective) that require respect.

Guest (not verified) says...

Society is set up in a way which is more suitable to extroverts, quelle surprise that they'd be happier. When people think you owe it to the world to socialize with everybody, it's good for extroverts and bad for introverts! It's tyrannical really. In a different world that valued attention seeking less, introverts would be the happier ones.
I find it obnoxious the way extroverts desire to impose their presence and their own self on everybody else and drain attention and energy from others. In the midst of it they're happy and the introverts have no room to breeaaaathe!!

Alice in Wonderland (not verified) says...

I can say that as an introvert I'm just not that interested in  pursuing excitement...because I'm  not unahhpy and have nothing to run away from. Maybe if extraverts experince happiness so intense, maybe they also experince  a lot of unhappiness  when they  can't  get a  reward stimulation. Personally,  I'd  describe my normal state  as not hjappy or unhappy. It's rather calm state of harmony. And I like this state..Extraverts seem to me as a kind of  addicts who needs to contantly get something from the external world to feel good.  I would not like to  be an extravert even it means to feel more happiness.

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