Across cultures, extroverts have more fun
Happy is as happy does, apparently—for human beings all over the world. Not only does acting extroverted lead to more positive feelings across several cultures, but people also report more upbeat behavior when they feel free to be themselves.
These findings were among those recently published in the Journal of Research in Personality in a paper by Timothy Church, professor of counseling psychology and associate dean of research in the College of Education at Washington State University. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
"We are not the first to show that being more extroverted in daily behavior can lead to more positive moods. However, we are probably the first to extend this finding to a variety of cultures," said Church.
Previous studies, including a 2012 paper by William Fleeson, psychology professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, have shown that in the U.S. introverts experience greater levels of happiness when they engage in extroverted behaviors—like smiling at a passerby or calling an old friend.
Intrigued, Church wanted to see if the findings held true for non-Western cultures. He and his team looked at behavior and mood in college students in the U.S., Venezuela, China, the Philippines and Japan. Using a "Big Five" personality trait survey, he found that, across the board, people reported more positive emotions in daily situations where they also felt or acted more extroverted.
A second finding revealed that the students felt more extroverted, agreeable, conscientious, emotionally stable and open to experience in situations where they could choose their own behavior, rather than being constrained by outside pressures.
Each of the Big Five traits lies on a bell curve of characteristics that ranges from one extreme to the other. Extroversion lies on the opposite pole from introversion, for example, and agreeableness on the opposite side of antagonism. On a day-to-day basis, most people land somewhere in the middle.
Until now, these types of studies have been conducted primarily in the U.S. and other Western countries where independence and individualism are highly valued. Church's study is among the first to show that these results transcend Western culture and also apply to the more relationship- and group-oriented cultures in Asia and South America.
Over the years, Church and his team have used the Big Five to investigate whether personality traits have similar effects on behavior and mood across a range of cultures. So far, they have studied people in eight different nations including Mexico, Malaysia and Australia. Similarities were documented in all of them.
Worldwide, personality psychologists have identified Big Five similarities in more than 60 countries.
"Cross-cultural psychologists like to talk about psychic unity," Church said. "Despite all of our cultural differences, the way personality is organized seems to be pretty comparable across cultural groups. There is evidence to show that 40 to 50 percent of the variation in personality traits has a genetic basis."
He also points out that while the Big Five traits seem fairly universal, cultures may vary in the average expression of those traits—for instance, some cultures present as more gregarious or conscientious.
But Homo sapiens, whether in Europe, China or South America, does seem to place a very high value on happiness. A quick Internet search reveals a bevy of titles on how to find and keep the elusive joy.
There's good reason for that. A comprehensive study from the University of Illinois in 2011 found that happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their gloomy peers. Positive moods help reduce stress levels and promote healthy immune function. They even shorten the heart's recovery time after a workout.
Church's findings suggest that being more outgoing may be one way to increase happiness levels in most, if not all, cultures.
Similarities in personality—and knowing that we humans are more alike than not—can also smooth international relations by enhancing communication, understanding and the ability to predict behavior in others. And this applies to large, complex societies like the United States whose populations are growing ever more diverse, he said.
Timothy Church | Eurek Alert!
Brands are Perceived in the Same Way as Faces
28.08.2015 | Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
“Bank & Zukunft 2015” trend survey highlights the need for banks to reform business models
21.08.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Longer, more severe, and hotter droughts and a myriad of other threats, including diseases and more extensive and severe wildfires, are threatening to transform some of the world's temperate forests, a new study published in Science has found. Without informed management, some forests could convert to shrublands or grasslands within the coming decades.
"While we have been trying to manage for resilience of 20th century conditions, we realize now that we must prepare for transformations and attempt to ease...
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.
These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...
Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
31.08.2015 | Awards Funding
31.08.2015 | Materials Sciences
31.08.2015 | Materials Sciences