A new study from the University of Georgia suggests that couples undergo significant personality changes during the first year and a half of marriage.
The research team asked the couples to assess their levels of what psychologists call the big five personality traits: extraversion (how social and outgoing a person is), openness to experience (how intellectually curious or adventurous someone is), conscientiousness (how dependable and plan-oriented a person is), agreeableness (how cooperative or compassionate a person is) and neuroticism (how anxious, depressed or angry a person is).
Some of the findings highlight some of the benefits of marriage: husbands became more conscientious and wives became less anxious, depressed and angry.
But then either the reporter who wrote the story linked to above, or the researchers themselves, make the following statement which I find troubling:
On the less rosy side of things, husbands became less extroverted, and both husbands and wives became less agreeable.
Why is becoming less extroverted considered “less rosy”?
Isn’t this the whole argument put forth by Susan Cain in her best selling book “Quiet”?
Cain argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people, leading to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.” The book presents a history of how Western culture transformed from a culture of character to a culture of personality in which an “extrovert ideal” dominates and introversion is viewed as inferior or even pathological.
As an introvert, it’s a shame to see someone promote this negative perception of introversion or a more favorable view of extroversion.
While it may be true that the data from the research study shows that men became less extroverted as a result of marriage, I don’t think you can classify such a change as good or bad.
I hope people become aware of the positive sides of being either an extrovert or an introvert, and learn to accept people for who they are, and not who they think they should be.