What is your introversion type? Read 4 Types of Introvert : Which One Are You?
The Dopamine effect
So why are introverts less driven by rewards? The answer lies in how the brain of introverts respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical found in the brain which controls the reward & pleasure centers in our brains. This chemical motivates us to pursue external rewards like making more money, attracting a mate, getting promoted, boosting our social status etc. Dopamine helps us identify these rewards and drives us to take the necessary action. It also decreases the “cost of effort” as it motivates us to strive harder for the reward. However, one of the most crucial functions of dopamine is exploration.
According to psychology professor Colin DeYoung of the the University of Minnesota, “the release of dopamine, anywhere in the dopamingergic system, increases motivation to explore and facilitates cognitive and behavioral processes useful in exploration.”
In a recent paper on introversion, DeYoung revealed that the dopamine reward system is more active in extroverts than in introverts. Hence, the brain of introverts do not become as active as extroverts’ at the possibility of a reward. Although extroverts and introverts have the same level of dopamine in their brains, the key lies in the difference in the dopamine reward network’s activity.
How introverts respond to dopamine explains why most introverts feel drained by social interactions and need to be alone to recharge themselves. For an introvert, socializing is more stressful and exhausting as a result of their less active reward system.
Do social interactions make you stressed out? Read The Introvert Hangover: Tips To Manage ‘Peopling Stress’
Why introverts love being alone
Socializing for introverts may be exhausting, but solitude is what really gets them going. And this may be due to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Similar to dopamine, acetylcholine is also related to pleasure. This neurotransmitter enables us to feel joy and empowers us to reflect, think profoundly, and concentrate on certain topics for extended periods.
This probably explains why introverts prefer environments that are calm and soothing instead of loud environments. It helps introverts to look inward for pleasure without being distracted by external stimulation.
Are introverts less social?
No. Not necessarily. Introversion is one of the most well-known yet widely misunderstood types of human personality.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re shy, sensitive and unsociable. It simply means that your brain is wired differently and you respond differently to rewards and external stimuli than an extrovert.
Even though you’re an introvert, You may enjoy going out with a small circle of friends or you may be a complete social butterfly. Or you may simply prefer staying home and enjoying your own company and a good book. You can be anything you want to be and anything that makes you happy. But what is important is that you understand yourself better and shed obsolete misconceptions about introverts.
Only then will you be able to embrace your inner introvert and live life to your fullest potential.
Want more? Read How to Embrace Being a Lone Wolf and Walk Your OWN Path
I highly recommend you watch this insightful video on introverts and the power they have: