Table of Contents
How Genetics May Influence Extroversion
Date of Content: December 15, 2023
Written by: Harvey Talento
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD
Extroversion (a.k.a. Extraversion) is a personality trait that’s been thoroughly studied in psychology, particularly as part of the Big Five personality traits framework. Extroverts are more tuned into external things and social interaction rather than their internal thoughts and feelings. They are characterized by being outgoing, energetic, talkative, and friendly. These individuals love being around people and are always up for new and exciting experiences.
At its core, extroversion or extraversion means feeling happy and full of energy when accompanied by others. Extroverts are the ones who usually light up social gatherings, earning the title of “the life of the party.”
Extroversion vs. Introversion
Extroverts and introverts represent two distinct ends of the spectrum of human personality. They differ in how they receive and spend energy, how they interact with others, and how they process information. Introverts find solitude energizing while extroverts seek external interactions for energy.
Renowned psychologist Hans Eysenck noted that extroverts exhibit a diminished ability to respond to stimulation compared to their introverted counterparts. This divergence in responsiveness implies that extroverts require higher levels of stimulation to experience excitement, leading them to seek additional external stimuli from their surroundings, particularly from social interactions.
Building on Eysenck’s insights, a 2011 research concluded that individuals categorized as extroverts find motivation in social stimuli, actively enjoying and seeking out these interactions. In contrast, those identified as introverts may experience overstimulation in response to similar levels of social stimuli, prompting them to actively avoid such situations.
In essence, these studies highlight the fundamental differences in how extroverts and introverts process and respond to external stimuli, particularly in the realm of social interactions. While extroverts thrive on social engagement, introverts may find themselves seeking solace in quieter, less socially charged environments.
Genetics of Extroversion
Understanding the genetic determinants of personality traits, particularly extroversion, has become a focal point in contemporary psychological research. Several genetic loci have been identified, shedding light on the intricate relationship between our genes and our propensity for sociability.
One of the key genetic loci (at rs1426371) associated with extroversion is found within the WSCD2 gene. Extroverts carrying certain variants in this gene tend to exhibit heightened levels of sociability. This locus has been implicated not only in extroversion but also in temperament-related traits, contributing to our understanding of the genetic and biological basis of social behaviors.
The MTMR9 gene variant was found to be associated with both extroversion and neuroticism. An intronic variant of MTMR9 was linked to extroversion, while an opposite direction of association with the same variant (rs2164273) was found with neuroticism, further highlighting the nuanced role of this gene in shaping diverse aspects of personality and showcasing the intricate interplay between different personality traits.
Another noteworthy genetic locus linked to extroversion lies in proximity to the PCDH15 gene. Extroverts carrying certain variants near PCDH15 often demonstrate a remarkable ability to navigate social connections, emphasizing the role of this gene in shaping social behavior. As a member of the cadherin superfamily, PCDH15 plays a crucial role in calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion, a cellular mechanism possibly influencing social interactions.
As science continues to decipher the genetic code behind personality, these discoveries hold promise for a deeper understanding of the genetic and biological factors shaping our social behaviors and mental well-being.
Non-genetic Factors Influencing Openness
Understanding why some people are more outgoing involves looking beyond genetics. The influences that contribute to extroversion can be broken down simply:
Outgoingness changes as people get older. A study found that the chance of being extroverted is highest between 16 and 21 years of age. After that, it tends to go down with age.
Having brothers and sisters can also affect how outgoing someone is. A small study with 60 teenagers in India showed that people with siblings are often more extroverted compared to those without.
Where people live and the culture around them also play a role. A study across 56 countries found that places such as Oceania, North America, and Europe had more outgoing people, while East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and South America had lower levels of extroversion. In simple terms, being outgoing is also influenced by one’s gender, age, whether one has siblings, and the culture one is part of. These different factors mix together to shape how social and outgoing someone is.
Girls usually score a bit higher on the extroversion scale than boys. This might be because girls tend to be better at things linked to being outgoing, like being warm, positive, and enjoying social company.
Managing the Challenges with Extroversion
Embracing the extroverted personality comes with a myriad of strengths, but it’s crucial to recognize and address the challenges that may accompany this social dynamism.
The Need for Constant Social Interaction
Extroverts often thrive in social settings, drawing energy from the company of others. However, the incessant need for social interaction can lead to burnout. It’s vital to appreciate the value of solitude and establish boundaries to maintain a healthy balance.
Difficulty in Solo Activities
Engaging in solitary pursuits may pose a challenge for extroverts who find solace in the company of others. Cultivating a positive relationship with solo activities can offer a reprieve and foster self-sufficiency.
Potential for Misunderstanding
The exuberance and expressive nature of extroverts may be misconstrued, leading to social misjudgments. Developing awareness of social cues and communicating openly about your extroverted tendencies can enhance understanding.
Struggle with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
The fear of missing out on social events can drive extroverts to overcommit, resulting in stress. Prioritizing quality over quantity in social engagements and acknowledging the inevitability of missing some events can alleviate this pressure.
Vulnerability to Social Fatigue
Continuous social interactions can contribute to social fatigue, impacting mental and emotional well-being. Recognizing signs of fatigue and implementing self-care practices are essential for maintaining optimal social health.
Acknowledging these challenges is the first step toward a more conscious and intentional embrace of extroversion. By recognizing the nuances of their social dynamics and implementing thoughtful considerations, extroverts can navigate these challenges with resilience and authenticity.
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- Extroversion, a fundamental personality trait, reflects a preference for external stimuli and social interactions. Extroverts are outgoing, talkative, and energized by social engagements, contributing positively to gatherings.
- Scientific research has identified specific genes like WSCD2, MTMR9, and PCDH15 associated with extroversion. These genes influence sociability, emphasizing the intricate relationship between genetics and social behavior.
- Beyond genetics, factors such as age, familial relationships, and geography impact extroversion. Understanding these influences provides a holistic view, acknowledging that being outgoing is a blend of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
- Studies show that girls tend to score higher on the extroversion scale than boys. This gender difference is attributed to qualities associated with being outgoing, such as warmth, positivity, and a preference for social interactions.
- While extroversion brings strengths, it comes with challenges. Acknowledging the need for social balance, cultivating solo activities, and addressing potential misunderstandings are essential steps. Embracing extroversion involves managing the fear of missing out and recognizing signs of social fatigue for a more conscious and resilient approach.
*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.
Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.