Act Like an Extrovert! My dinner with Sonja: Lessons from the Cutting Edge

by Scott Crabtree

Can acting like an extrovert bring you happiness? Yet-to-be-published research suggests it can.

At the International Positive Psychology Association World Congress, I had the incredible opportunity to have dinner with Sonja Lyubomirsky! She’s the amazing researcher who wrote the book– The How of Happiness–that introduced me to the science of happiness. To say I was thrilled to get to have dinner with her is an understatement.

Over that dinner I got to hear about some of the over 50 yet-to-be-published studies Sonja is working on. What’s the most important and exciting finding she’s working on?

Act like an extrovert!


These weren’t the exact instructions; participants were told to behave as if they had several traits that extroverts have. When they acted like extroverts, participants enjoyed one of the most significant boosts in well-being that Sonja has ever seen!

Several notes of caution here: this is unpublished research. It’s yet to go through the full process of peer review. But in Sonja’s presentation at the conference, she stressed the importance of finding the right fit. Each of us needs to find which interventions work for us; it’s not one-size-fits-all when it comes to happiness activities. Even peer-reviewed studies don’t tell us what works for all of us all the time; science gives us averages and can guide us to what works for most of us, most of the time.

So experiment with your own life. Try acting like an extrovert for an hour or a day, and see how you feel.

I can almost hear some of you thinking “But I’m an introvert; I don’t want to act extroverted and I’ll be exhausted if I do.” Perhaps. But in this study, Sonja and her colleagues are yet to find the decreased energy that introverts expect when then act like an extrovert. It could be that the thought of being extroverted is exhausting for introverts, but the reality is that social contact is energizing for both extroverts and introverts. Previous studies have suggested exactly that.

I’d love to hear if you try this experiment, and how it goes. Please leave a comment or even better, let me know on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter. And please stay tuned here and on social media for more updates from our amazing trip to Montreal and the cutting edge of the science of well-being.