Personality and Affective Forecasting: Trait Introverts Underpredict the Hedonic Benefits of Acting Extraverted

  • Zelenski J
  • Whelan D
  • Nealis L
 et al. 
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Abstract

People report enjoying momentary extraverted behavior, and this does not seem to depend on trait levels of introversion-extraversion. Assuming that introverts desire enjoyment, this finding raises the question, why do introverts not act extraverted more often? This research explored a novel explanation, that trait introverts make an affective forecasting error, underpredicting the hedonic benefits of extraverted behavior. Study 1 (n = 97) found that trait introverts forecast less activated positive and pleasant affect and more negative and self-conscious affect (compared to extraverts) when asked to imagine acting extraverted, but not introverted, across a variety of hypothetical situations. Studies 2-5 (combined n = 495) found similar results using a between-subjects approach and laboratory situations. We replicated findings that people enjoy acting extraverted and that this does not depend on disposition. Accordingly, the personality differences in affective forecasts represent errors. In these studies, introverts tended to be less accurate, particularly by overestimating the negative affect and self-consciousness associated with their extraverted behavior. This may explain why introverts do not act extraverted more often (i.e., they overestimate hedonic costs that do not actually materialize) and have implications for understanding, and potentially trying to change, introverts' characteristically lower levels of happiness.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Affective forecasting
  • Extraversion
  • Judgment
  • Negative affect
  • Subjective well-being

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