Everyone knows one, or perhaps you consider yourself one as well: An extrovert. You know the ones we mean – the social butterflies who are…
Outgoing and friendly
Talkative and enthusiastic
I’ve been described as an extrovert all my life but until recent years didn’t start to notice it as a real part of myself. A part that I have found I can’t “turn off”. With being the one in my social circle who plans most of our activities, likes being the center of attention (yep, usually), and acts with gusto before thinking things through with every little detail, I can finally say it…
Are you shy?
I’m trying to get you out of your shell because I want you to enjoy life to the fullest!
Now, I know that won’t work for everyone but as an extrovert being social is as easy as breathing air. My persuasions to get you out and doing stuff, talk to people, see ‘all the things’, doesn’t mean I don’t like who you are. I just can’t help but see the world through my eyes. Sometimes that can be a good or bad thing but there’s always good intentions behind it. I feel energized after social interactions and recharged instantly in a large group of people. I know that for most introverts that is actually the opposite and can drain them or make them feel ‘worn out’.
Unique and opposite
Why are extroverts and introverts so incredibly opposite and unique and can one become the other?
We all exist on the same spectrum of social interactions, but where exactly on that spectrum makes all the difference. In an early 2000’s study, conducted by the University of Amsterdam, scientist poked a little further into brain scans of self-proclaimed intro/extroverts
The big difference? Dopamine.
The ‘feel good’ drug we naturally produce when happy. What they found was that extroverts may be possibly be using their dopamine systems differently! Our brains read differently than introverts for most activities. They were defined as more adventurous, more social, and they were more responsive when the reward/risk center was increased (much like when you gamble and win).
Introverts may actually find themselves less likely to want to be in an ‘overstimulating’ situation. Parties, clubs, social functions, hiking a new mountain, or even trying a new hobby? Not introverts. All of this ties back into genetics as our genes shape an develop our brains. This backs up the theory that genes that control dopamine function can predict personality differences.
What’s happening to our brains?
Analysis of the imaging data showed how the brain activity differed between extroverted volunteers and introverted ones during gambling. When the gambles they took paid off, the more extroverted group showed a stronger response in two crucial brain regions: the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens. The amygdala is known for processing emotional stimuli, and the nucleus accumbens is a key part of the brain’s reward circuitry and part of the dopamine system. The results confirm the theory – extroverts process surprising rewards differently.Cognitive Brain Research
Think of it this way, if you keep taking risky/adventurous chances or putting yourself in those situations and it works out well for you, then you have no reason to think negatively of that behavior.
You will keep seeking out situations that give you that exciting feeling of the unfamiliar and novelty because it feels good. Being highly sensitivity to rewards just keeps us extroverts coming back because our preferences are shaped by the way our brain responds to outside stimuli.
As with anything, our brains still remain the most complex part of our entire bodies and we are constantly learning new and exciting things about it each day. We’ve barely began to scratch the surface on understanding what cases and defines ‘personality’.
Is it encoded?
So, do I think extroversion is encoded? I’d have to say at this point, given the collective and most up to date research, it seems it is encoded.
Does that mean introverts can never experience life as an extrovert? Absolutely not and in a future writing I’ll touch on just how to fake it till you make it, just when needed, so you too can enjoy some of that extroverted energy. Until then, feel free to say, “I’m an introvert, it’s in my DNA” whenever you want to get out of any ‘extroverted’ heavy situations.