Ever backed out of a social event because you're somehow convinced you'd have a terrible time?
You're not alone. In fact, it's something a lot of us do on a day-to-day basis, even when socialising isn't involved (for example, making plans to exercise, only to dread the prospect once it's time to actually head to the gym).
Known in the psychological world as affective forecasting, this behaviour refers to when we make predictions about how we will feel in the future. And when it comes to social interactions, it's something introverts do all the time.
"Introverts tend to predict that acting in a more sociable and outgoing way won't be as enjoyable as it is," Luke Smillie, senior lecturer in personality psychology at The University of Melbourne told HuffPost Australia.
"But what's interesting about this is, when we did the research, we found extroverts and introverts derive equal enjoyment from acting in a more outgoing way, it's just that extroverts seem to more accurately predict this."
In other words, both extroverts and introverts actually enjoyed the socialising process; it's just the introverts assumed they wouldn't.
"They under-predict how much they are going to enjoy it, or rather they over-predict negative feelings they will have," Smillie continues. "Whereas extroverts were quite accurate in terms of how well they will predict their feelings in the future."
So what does that mean for introverts wanting to socialise, but dreading the thought at the same time?
Give it a go. It's as simple as that.
"From the recent research we've done in this topic, I guess the tip that comes out of that is if you just kind of engage in these outgoing behaviours... if you gave those behaviours a chance, there is every likelihood you will enjoy it much more than you anticipated," Smillie says.
"That's not to say introverted people should act more outgoing and sociable [if they don't want to]. There is nothing 'wrong' with being introverted.
"Introverts can still cultivate good social relationships, those relationships just might develop differently, perhaps more slowly and organically.
"It's more the case that, if an introvert wants to be more socially engaged and outgoing, they may find it challenging to do so because they expect that they will feel more negative or self conscious about it."
If you're an introvert who wants to socialise but feels conflicted about doing so, have faith in the fact you will have more fun than you imagine.
Science says so.
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