Why Am I Introverted?




By definition an introvert is someone who feels charged and energized through spending time alone. Reading a good book, watching a movie, painting, etc. That sounds like a productive and healthy use of time to me. Albeit these arguably higher levels of productivity, introversion is often equated with unhealthy levels of isolation and even anxiety and depression. Odds are if you're an introvert someone, at least one concerned (and extroverted) friend or family member, has told you that you 'don't get out of the house enough'. I do get out of the house and no I don't get bored spending Saturday night alone. Why is it such an awful thing for one to enjoy one's own company? Are people jealous because of my inability to experience boredom?

They likely aren't. The stigma around introversion has been built up around a general misconception of what it means to be an introvert and has been around for a long time. Some people are just unable to understand you. Now before you revert back to your goth/emo phase attempt to grasp why society has such a hard time identifying with introverts on the whole.




Some common misunderstandings regarding introversion are as follows: introverts don't enjoy social gatherings where more than 3.764 people are present, they aren't leaders but followers, and don't bode well in situations where they have to make a speech. The last one's blatantly unfair. Practically everyone gets stage fright. These myths all thrive in a society where 21st century skills are the next big thing and where simply being skilled and intelligent just doesn't cut it. Many introverts are equipped to be amazing leaders but often shy away from putting themselves forward in a group scenario. Especially of they’re surrounded by more aggressive extroverts. It’s understandable that people are often unable to identify with introverts given that their extroverted counterparts are estimated to form up to 74 percent of the population.





There has to be a reason as to why some individuals feel more inclined to keep to themselves than
others. What makes introverts develop defining traits such as introspection and reservedness?

The answer lies in our neurology. The amygdala and nucleus accumbens to be precise.
The amygdala processes the emotions you feel and allows you to discern those of others while the
nucleus accumbens is a component of our pleasure and reward system. Aversive stimuli drives
dopamine levels down in the nucleus accumbens while reinforcing stimuli results in an increase.
People try to avoid aversive stimuli as it’s associated with punishment but might actively seek out
reinforcing stimuli as the action that induces it provides a reward.
Michael Cohen of the  University of Amsterdam researched the potentially different dopamine circuits
of introverts and extroverts in 2005 by way of personality profiling, genetic analysis, and brain
scanning. The volunteers placed gambles while in the scanner. Cohen’s results supported his
hypothesis that the two aforementioned personality types process rewards in different ways due to
their different responses to stimuli. Imaging displayed that extroverts’ amygdala and accumbens were
more active in comparison with the introverts’ if their gambling exercise proved successful.
Cohen wasn’t the first to suggest that extroverts required more of a ‘push’ in order to enjoy a surge of
dopamine. Psychologist Hans Eysenck suggested that extroverts have a relatively lower basic rate of
arousal in the 1960’s. They essentially need to seek out risk and the company of others in order to feel
as stimulated as an introvert might feel with, for example, a good book. Introverts thrive in
comfortable and calculable scenarios because of their easily excited dopamine system.
Narrowing this theory down further, Inna Fishman of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences
conducted research to answer the question: do extroverts have different responses to stimuli that
pertains to social situations? Participants were shown images that incited a P300 change in their
brain's electrical activity. P300 is the reaction to a stimulus and displays how the stimulus is
categorized and processed as well as how much time it took for an individual to recognize a change in
their environment. The results were collected using EEG. Fishman would show the volunteers a
series of images that included an 'odd one out' such as an array of male faces occasionally followed by
a female face. The more extroverted participants had higher P300 responses to the pictures of faces.
Conversely, introverts' responses to faces and inanimate objects, such as flowers, resembled each
other more closely. These findings suggested that introverts were less responsive to social stimuli than
extroverts.
So why might you prefer to spend time with a small group of friends if leave the house at all?
It's all about how you're wired. Maybe forward this blog post to the extroverts in your life that are
concerned about your tendency to stay confined in your room? Not your teachers, there's no way to
get out of class presentations.
“People empty me. I have to get away to refill.”
~ Charles Bukowski

Comments

  1. I apologize for the formatting in the last few paragraphs and will do my best to fix it so the post is easier to read through!

    ReplyDelete

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