Extroverts have an Edge in the Workplace: New Study

A new scientific study has uncovered four key advantages extroverts have in the workplace.  The areas where extroverts appear to have a leg up over their more introverted colleagues are: motivational, emotional, interpersonal and performance-related.

Deep dive

The first thing we need to know before interpreting the results is how extroversion is defined. In other words, what characteristics do extroverts tend to have in the workplace? Researchers used the following characteristics to define extroverts:

♦ talkative

♦ outgoing

♦ prefers taking charge

♦ expresses positive emotion

♦ enjoys seeking out new experiences

(Introverts were defined as quiet, emotionally reserved, less energetic, and harder to get to know.)

Study overview

The study offers the most comprehensive review of existing research (91 meta-analyses in total) relating to extroversion and work-related variables.   The 165 variables examined included things like motivation, work-life balance, emotional well-being and performance. Supporting data were taken from studies across multiple countries, from different occupations and across different career moments including education, job application, and on the job evaluations.

Study findings

Researchers found that higher extroversion was desirable for 90 percent of variables, which suggests a small, persistent advantage in the workplace. However, it was in four categories that extroverts enjoy a distinct advantage: motivational, emotional, interpersonal and performance-related.

What this means in real life

♦ Extroversion is linked with a greater motivation to achieve positive goals — in this case as a desired reward through work.

♦ Extroversion is also closely associated with experiencing positive emotions more regularly…a happy employee is not only more satisfied with life, s/he also tends to work harder and is perceived as a better leader as a result. Positive emotions also act as a buffer against stress or adverse experiences at work.

♦ Since extroverts like to be around other people, the third advantage has to do with socializing. By virtue of stronger communication skills, extroverts tend to adapt better to different social situations and are adept at persuasion, which is also a strong leadership skill.

♦ The fourth advantage is in job performance.

So should introverts just pack it up and move to a deserted island?

Researchers caution people not to take the results quite so literally.  To begin with, cleanly defined category types of introversion and extroversion are not really realistic–few people can be defined as being extroverted or introverted 100% of the time.  Depending on the situation, most people display a range of behaviors along the continuum of extrovert-introvert.

Additionally, there are numerous other important characteristics that contribute to workplace success, including cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and the ability to regulate negative emotions–not to mention characteristics like strong listening skills and the ability to focus which have been linked to people who tend to be introverted in the workplace environment.


Journal Reference: Michael P. Wilmot, Connie R. Wanberg, John D. Kammeyer-Mueller, Deniz S. Ones. Extraversion advantages at work: A quantitative review and synthesis of the meta-analytic evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2019;

Study: DOI: 10.1037/apl0000415  / Overview


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