Running head: SELF-DISCLOSURE DIFFERENCES
Differences between Introverts and Extraverts in a
St. Bonaventure University
My professional motivation instigating this study was counseling and helping clients to disclose. This study was designed to examine self-disclosure of introverts and extraverts in anger and non-anger conditions. Individuals are more likely to self-disclose positive emotions than negative because it is seemingly more appropriate (Howell & Conway, 1990). A study showed that extraversion was associated with positive emotions and introversion with negative emotions (Sannikova, 1982). A 2 (personality) x 2 (mood state) factorial design was used to test for main effects and an interaction. A main effect for personality was predicted showing that extraverts would self disclose more than introverts. An interaction was predicted such that the disclosure would depend on the level of situational mood and introversion-extraversion. No main effect was found but a significant interaction indicated that disclosure did depend on extraversion and introversion while in a negative or non-negative mood. Introverts revealed more in a negative mood state whereas extraverts revealed more in the no-mood manipulation.
Differences between Introverts and Extraverts in a
The following study was motivated because of a professional interest in the subject. Counseling is a field that takes great skill in helping a client to open up and self-disclose about their personal life. It is important for a counselor to know as much as one can about the different methods of getting a client to open up and talk about themselves. Understanding the degree to which personality influences self-disclosure would be a very important piece of information for a counselor to know so they can incorporate that into their sessions so as to best counsel a client.
Individuals take part in self-disclosure when one individual reveals personal information about themselves to another individual (Burger, 2000). Disclosure reciprocity is an important aspect of self-disclosure. This occurs when one person discloses information on a particular intimacy level; the other person will also disclose information on that same level (Burger, 2000). Humanist, Sidney Jourard, once stated, “No man can come to know himself except as an outcome of disclosing himself to another person” (Burger, 2000).
Another form of self-disclosure is emotional self-disclosure. One study defined emotional self-disclosure as “any intentional and voluntary verbal utterance that conveys information about the emotional state of the individual” (Papini & Farmer, 1990). In other words, emotional self-disclosure is when one individual shares personal feelings with another individual. Research has shown that positive emotional self-disclosures are more likely to be made than negative emotional self-disclosures (Howell & Conway, 1990). Individuals are more expressive in their self-disclosure of positive emotions than
negative emotions because it is seemingly more appropriate to self-disclose positive emotions (Howell & Conway, 1990).
Jourard (1971) states that in order to become a fully functioning person; individuals should both be willing and able to disclose intimate, personal information to the significant people in their lives (Burger, 2000). In general extraverts tend to be quick to self-disclose and introverts tend to be slow to self-disclose (Burger, 2000). Individuals are generally not comfortable with self-disclosing to others due to the fear of embarrassment (Burger, 2000). Self-disclosure is also an important factor in a romantic partner. Research has found that by keeping information hidden from the people in our lives, more stress and worry develop than it would from the actual process of self-disclosure (Burger, 2000).
Extraversion and Introversion are personality traits that can be used to classify individuals into two different groups. Individuals who are extraverted prefer to be at loud social settings such as parties (Burger, 2000). Extraverts enjoy talking to people and do not favor activities which do not include other people (Burger, 2000). Introverted individuals tend to be quiet, keeping themselves distant from the loud social settings extraverts seek out (Burger, 2000). Extraverts are also not as excitable as introverts. This is why extraverts require far more stimulation than introverts in order to become aroused (Kosslyn & Rosenberg, 2001).
There have been studies done on extraversion, introversion and emotion. One study looked at the overall happiness of extraverts versus the overall happiness of introverts (Larsen & Kasimatis, 1990). Participants in their study kept a daily mood
report for 84 days. Results showed extraverts reported higher levels of positive mood (happiness) than introverts (Larsen & Kasimatis, 1990). Diener (1984) has proposed that extraverts are happier because they spend more time in social settings. Social interaction in social settings has previously been linked with well-being, which is an indicator of happiness (Diener, 1984).
A study on the relationship between individual characteristics of emotionality and sociability showed that greater sociability and extraversion were associated with positive emotions such as joy (Sannikova, 1982). This study also showed that isolation and introversion are associated with negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness (Sannikova, 1982).
Anger is an “emotion whose outward, verbal expression puts people in touch with their rights and needs” (Cox, Stabb & Hulgus, 2000).
A study on the anger of African American women in the south declared anger an important defense of one’s boundaries (Fields, Reesman, Robinson, Sims, Edwards, McCall, Short & Thomas, 1998). Researchers have contended that although anger is a powerful emotion, it is also a misunderstood emotion (Fields et al., 1998). Researchers believe that this is due to the fact that very little research has been done on anger (Fields et al., 1998). Society has long viewed anger as an inappropriate emotion because anger sometimes elicits aggression and violence in individuals (Fields et al., 1998).
A study on who would respond how and when to anger took into consideration the personality traits of extraversion and introversion (Boddeker & Stemmler, 2000). Researchers found that extraverts that were told they were going to be made to feel angry
(control group) showed less of an anger response than the introverts in the same control group (Boddeker & Stemmler, 2000). Interestingly, researchers also stated that introverts reported feeling more anger than the physiological results showed (Boddeker & Stemmler, 2000). The researchers discussed that the extraverts may not have shown an anger response because they may have denied the emotion in order to avoid the discomfort of not being able to retaliate against the anger (Boddeker & Stemmler, 2000).
Overall, the results from their study show that the personality traits do influence anger response styles (Boddeker & Stemmler, 2000).
Extraverts enjoy talking to people and do not favor activities which do not include other people whereas introverts tend to be quiet and stay distant from loud social settings (Burger, 2000). Diener (1984) has proposed that extraverts are happier than introverts because they spend more time in social settings which have previously been linked with well-being. Results from a study on the amygdala and extraversion showed that although the amygdala in extraverts was activated for happy expressions, it was not activated for anger (Canli et al., 2002). Another study on the relationship between individual characteristics of emotionality and sociability showed that extraversion was associated with positive emotions such as joy and introversion was associated with negative emotions such as anger (Sannikova, 1982). Individuals are more expressive in their self-disclosure of positive emotions than negative emotions because it is seemingly more appropriate to self-disclose positive emotions (Howell & Conway, 1990).
In other words, extraverts enjoy being around people and are more likely to report being happy than introverts. Introverts do not enjoy being around other people and are more likely to be angry than extraverts. The research on self-disclosure previously discussed has shown that individuals are more likely to disclose positive emotions than negative emotions because positive emotions are perceived as being more appropriate than negative emotions. Since self-disclosure is a form of bonding and starting a relationship with another person, introverts will be more likely than extraverts to “break” the social rule and self-disclose on negative emotions. This is because introverts would be less likely to be upset about not forming a new relationship than an extravert would.
It is the general feeling that extraverts, as a rule self-disclose more than introverts. I am hypothesizing that this is not quite true. Introverts are more likely to self-disclose in an emotion (anger) situation than extraverts. Extraverts will self-disclose when emotion (anger) is absent. Based on these findings, the hypothesis for this study is that introverted individuals that are placed in an anger state will be more likely to self-disclose on the subscale of anger than extraverts placed in an anger state. An interaction between personality and mood and a main effect for personality were predicted. An ANOVA was used to test for the predicted significances.
Participants for this study included sixty college students (N=60) from St. Bonaventure University. The participants were at least eighteen years of age. At the completion of the study each participant was eligible for extra credit in various psychology courses.
Materials and Measures
The Measurement of Extraversion and Introversion
The measurement that was used in this study for extraversion and introversion was the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI). The EPI is used to measure extraversion, introversion, neuroticism, and stability (Rahim, 1984). Researchers have suggested that the two different scales are independent of one another (Rahim, 1984). The EPI consists of fifty seven true–false questions (Paulhus & Aks, 1990). The EPI also includes a lie scale in order to detect fake responses (Paulhus & Aks, 1990).
Participants were asked to write about one of two topics in order to manipulate his or her state of anger. This idea was derived from a study that looked at narcissism, social rejection, and aggression (Twenge & Campbell, 2003). The manipulated group was asked to write about a situation in which the participant felt anger in a romantic relationship. The control group included extraverts and introverts writing about a neutral situation with a romantic partner.
The Measurement of Anger
The measure that was used to assess an individual’s willingness to self-disclose was the Emotional Self-Disclosure Scale (ESDS); (Snell, Miller & Belk, 1988). The forty item ESDS was given to participants in order to measure their willingness to self-disclose, specifically for anger. The ESDS contains eight subscales of emotion (Snell et al., 1988). That includes: depression, happiness, jealousy, anxiety, anger, calmness, apathy and fear (Snell et al., 1988). Participants used a 5-point Likert scale in response to their willingness to discuss the topic with their romantic partner. A score of one referred to the participant’s unwillingness to discuss the topic, and a score of five equaled the participant’s total willingness to discuss the topic (Snell et al., 1988). An example of a statement participants were asked to rate themselves on self-disclosure to a romantic partner on the ESDS was: “Times when you felt angry” (Snell et al., 1988).
This study took two days for participants to complete. On the first day each participant were given the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI). This allowed time for the determination of extraversion or introversion in each participant to be concluded. On the second day, half of the introverts were given a writing assignment asking them to recall and write about a time they felt anger towards a romantic partner. The other half of the introverts were given a writing assignment asking them to recall and write about a neutral or relaxing situation with a romantic partner. The same was done for the extraverts. Following this each participant was given the Emotional Self-Disclosure Scale (ESDS) in order to assess their willingness to self-disclose, particularly for anger.
The results are consistent with previous research. Subjects were separated into one of four groups. The groups included: extraversion/anger, extraversion/no anger, introversion/anger, and introversion/no anger. The scores from each group (n=15) were totaled and averaged (Table 1 and Figure 1). Extraversion/anger had M= 60.67 (SD=7.95). Extraversion/no anger had M=82.47 (SD=8.14). Introversion/anger had M=80.33 (SD=4.73). Introversion/no anger had M=54.73 (SD=12.45).
A between-subjects ANOVA was used to analyze the significance of personality and mood for self-disclosure. A main effect for personality was not found F (1, 56) =3.178, p<.08. A main effect for mood was not found either F (1, 56) =0.705, p<.405. This means that personality alone or mood alone did not significantly affect participants’ self-disclosure. An interaction between mood and personality was found F (1, 56) = 109.743, p<.05 (Table 2). This interaction means that the effect of personality on self-disclosure depends on mood level. The amount an individual will self-disclose is dependent on both their personality and mood level.
The results from this experiment show that personality effect an individual’s willingness to self-disclose for anger. Introverts that were placed in the same anger state as extraverts clearly showed higher levels of emotional self-disclosure. These results support my hypothesis that introverted individuals that are placed in an anger state will be more likely to self-disclose on the subscale of anger than extraverts placed in an anger state.
These results show that personality and mood does play an important role in an individual’s self-disclosure of anger. This is significant to individual’s that are in a relationship. The amount and subject area that a significant other will share with you is dependent on both their personality and their mood; at least this study has shown this to be true for self-disclosure of anger. This information may prove to be useful for those in a romantic relationship.
This information is also relevant to the area of counseling. It is crucial for a counselor to find a way to help a client open up and talk about issues. A counselor could use the information that personality and mood both play a role in an individual’s willingness to self-disclose for anger to better help a client disclose.
Realizing that both personality and mood play a role in an individual’s self-disclosure could also prove to be useful for other relationships. For instance: the parent-child relationship, the friend-friend relationship, and the teacher-student relationship.
Results showed that there was no main effect for personality. This means that personality alone did not affect the participants’ self-disclosure for anger. This is not consistent with previous research. In general extraverts tend to be quick to self-disclose and introverts tend to be slow to self-disclose (Burger, 2000). A reason that the results from this study were not significant could be due to the inaccuracy of the responses of the students on the EPI.
The interaction between mood and personality shows that both are important when looking at an individual’s self-disclosure. This means that the effect of personality on self-disclosure depends on mood level.
There are still several other areas that need to be further explored and tested that this study did not get to. For instance, future research could look at personality and moods other than anger to test for significance. The next step with this study could also be to include a third variable of happiness and make the next study a 2x2x2. Future research could also look into gender and age to see if that has any effect. It would also be interesting to look at a different personality aspect, for instance, type A and type B personalities to see if there is any significance with varying personality aspects.
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Mean Self-Disclosure score and Standard Deviations (SD)
Analysis of Variance
Figure 1. Self-disclosure by Introverts and Extraverts in Two Mood States.