Leadership roles can require maintaing a split personality. In addition to working effectively in isolation, you have to interact with dozens of individuals every day. 

And since most identify with one of two personality types -- introverted or extroverted -- many people are only completely comfortable doing one of these activities. As for the rest of the time, they're probably faking it. 

The effects of adopting a different personality for work are the focus of new research from Sanna Balsari-Palsule, a Ph.D. candidate in social psychology at the University of Cambridge who is collaborating with Cambridge psychologist Brian Little.

After a preliminary study, Balsari-Palsule found that when individuals at work think they're being made to suppress their normal behavior for too long, they often feel stressed and burned out. And, perhaps surprisingly, it's extroverts who are more likely to experience the negative effects of adopting an ersatz work personality.

Balsari-Palsule asked 300 employees at a marketing firm to fill out a personality test and survey questions. This information was analyzed alongside of participants' performance reviews, according to the Science of Us.

Extroverts tended to get promoted more quickly than their colleagues, Balsari-Palsule found. But she also discovered that normally introverted employees who acted outgoing at work received performance reviews that were just as favorable as those of their extroverted peers. Meanwhile, introverts generally weren't stressed by having to put on a bit of an act at work.

On the other hand, Balsari-Palsule found that when extroverts felt required to scale back their personalities, they ended up feeling drained. She told Phys.org that for these people, reining in their true selves made them feel like caged animals. 

Balsari-Palsule believes that introverts are less affected by putting on pseudo personalities because their days are usually full of ample time to work alone when they need a break from the spotlight. Extroverts, however, have fewer opportunities to experience a reprieve if they have a non-collaborative job that requires they work quietly for most of the day. 

In her next phase of research, Balsari-Palsule plans to study the effect that highly competitive work environments have on pseudo personalities in the office.

Published on: Apr 7, 2015