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Why am I an Introvert?

By Edited Jun 15, 2016 3 13

Happy Alone

As a self-confessed introvert, who enjoys and needs time alone, to think, to read and to ponder. I have wondered what makes me and people like me, different from the extroverts, who I must admit to me seem somewhat superficial. While most of us are a mix of introverted and extroverted styles, depending on the situation, in general research indicates that extroverts comprise 50 - 74 percent of the population and introverts, 16 - 50 percent. The major difference between these two broad personality types however, is in the brain, which is wired up differently and in the brains response to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Reading Alone

Time To Ponder

Introversion is not shyness, many people who are introverts enjoy to socialize and communicate with others, however generally we enjoy small intimate groups and real conversations as opposed to big loud events with meaningless superficial chit-chat.

Personally I want to communicate about the things that interest me and hear the considered knowledge and ideas of others; I don't want to talk about celebrities, or who has the newest car,  best house, job or career etc. 

Like most people who have an introverted personality, I seem to absorb and process more information, and am more of an observer in a situation then most extroverts. The reason behind this, is different brain function involving the neurotransmitter dopamine (involved in brain's reward and pleasure centers). Introverts seem to have a  lower tolerance, or threshold to dopamine, while extroverts seem to need a greater hit  of dopamine to get an effect and so are driven to engage in behaviour, which provides them with their dopamine fix.

Quiet Times

Overstimulation

Introverts who push themselves to become more extroverted however, may pay a significant toll in the form of cognitive fatigue, as they have experienced overstimulation. In experiments, introverts have shown higher electrical activity in the brain indicating cortical arousal and neuroimaging studies have also demonstrated higher activation of the frontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain is key to decision-making, problem solving, focus and attention. Also extremely interesting, is that introverts have greater blood flow to the Broca's area of the brain, a brain area involved in speech; in the case of introverts this seems to indicate 'self talk'.  So it seems that introverts, with our highly reactive brains, basically need down time and  time alone to recuperate , before we can get out there again into the cacophony of the modern social world.

A Different Style

According to psychologist Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., the different thinking and communicating styles of introverts and extroverts, can also create conversation difficulties. The extrovert for example may ask, "Hello, how are you? Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you about X,", and the introvert wants to ponder and explain how they are feeling, not just answer with a glib "good", before they move on to the next part of the conversation. Extroverts however need the constant stimulation and input and so becomes impatient. However as with many cases of difference between people, understanding and tolerance can go a long way to building a bridge between the two cognitive styles and who knows what each can learn from the other!

John Lennon Isolation

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Comments

Jul 12, 2012 7:03am
andrewlemon
Another good one - Im very much an internal processor. I didnt know the connection with the neurotransmitter dopamine - one learns something every day.
Jul 12, 2012 3:59pm
Aurelia
Supposedly there are more introverts around then we might think, even famous people who are in the public eye. Thanks for reading.
Jul 13, 2012 5:50am
jjhansen
I am with you. I enjoy my own company and don't see myself as hugely social.
Jul 14, 2012 12:16am
Aurelia
People who enjoy writing, reading and thinking, are often introverts. Thanks for reading.
Jul 17, 2012 10:59pm
claudslewis
I hope more people are waking up to the fact that we should just let introverts be. Children who naturally are, are being pushed to become more vocal and forced to adapt to group activities, even if they seem to thrive when left alone. I am an introvert and have only recently stopped trying to make an effort to change. There was a really good article on CNN recently, about the fact that introverts are creators and inventors, while extroverts are managers and leaders. The world needs both. Thumbs up!
Jul 18, 2012 2:07am
Aurelia
I agree that people should be appreciated for their strengths and not pushed into being contrary to their nature. Being an introvert has many positive aspects. Thanks for reading.
Jul 18, 2012 5:41am
angieyoder
I'm an extrovert but with a lot of introvert qualities. I don't think it's so cut and dried. I think all of us are a blend of the two.

Interesting read!
Jul 18, 2012 2:01pm
Aurelia
Most thinks about the brain are more complex then they seem at first, so I am sure you are right. Thanks for commenting.
Jul 21, 2012 2:04am
adragast
Nice article but be careful not to judge extrovert people too fast. They may seem superficial to you, but it can be a defensive mechanism to hide their sensitive part. Look happy, smile and nobody will notice you are hurt, deep inside you. Talk about the weather and the news with a girl and you will not have to admit your feelings for her.
Jul 21, 2012 7:35pm
Aurelia
Thanks for commenting and for some insight into what lies behind the exterior of an extrovert.
Jul 21, 2012 8:30pm
jromero1
I'm to an Introvert! I enjoy to be alone with my thoughts and to recharge for the next day. People at times do not understand why i need time to myself. it is a part of who i am
Jul 22, 2012 1:15am
Aurelia
I agree with you that time to recharge and spend time with our own thoughts and reflections is very important, but I wonder how we can foster more understanding between introverts and extroverts?
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Bibliography

  1. Maggi "Motivation & Emotion." http://www.psychologicalscience.com/motivation_emotion/2010/02/introverts-v-extroverts.html. 2010.
  2. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201008/revenge-the-introvert?page=2 "Revenge of the Introvert." http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201008/revenge-the-introvert?page=2. 2010.

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