Simple signs you're an introvert or an extrovert

By Ben Ambridge

Iris Apfel's dress sense is nothing short of extroverted. Photo / Getty
Iris Apfel's dress sense is nothing short of extroverted. Photo / Getty

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Normally a psychologist who wanted to find out would give you a questionnaire with questions of the Do-you-always-find-yourself-in-the-kitchen-at-parties? variety. But a recent study of 1,000 people suggests a more interesting, if less intuitive, way to answer this age-old question.

So, on a scale of 0 (particularly unhappy) to 10 (particularly happy) - with 5 representing your typical baseline level of happiness - how happy do you feel when doing each of the following:

a. Being at work
b. Doing sport/exercise
c. Watching TV
d. Listening to music
e. Relaxing
f. Shopping
g. Reading

The key question is the first one. Scoring less than 5 (meaning your happiness when working is lower than your baseline level) is associated with introversion; scoring more than 5 with extraversion.

Perhaps surprisingly, both introverts and extroverts are happier than baseline when exercising though, as you might expect, extroverts tend to have higher scores here. Introverts and extroverts don't differ for the remaining activities, with one very surprising exception: extroverts take more pleasure from reading than introverts.

How come? The researchers' answer is that extroverts have a more active reward system, meaning they are happiest when working towards some goal. This would explain why extroverts take more pleasure than introverts from working, exercising and reading - activities often directed towards a particular goal - but not from activities like watching TV or relaxing which, while enjoyable, tend not to have a particular aim.

• A fully referenced version of this article is available at benambridge.com. Order Psy-Q by Ben Ambridge at bookshop.theguardian.com

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