Have you ever wondered what makes someone an introvert? Last month, I got to talk with Colin DeYoung, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota who recently published a paper on introversion. When I asked him this question, he told me that introversion boils down to how someone responds to rewards.
Rewards are things like money, sex, social status, social affiliation, and even food. When you get promoted at work or convince an attractive stranger to give you his or her phone number, you’re gaining a reward.
Of course, introverts care about things like earning money and having relationships, too. But researchers hypothesize that introverts respond differently than extroverts to rewards. Compared to extroverts, we’re less energized by the possibilities for rewards around us. This has to do with a chemical in our brain called dopamine. Because of this, we talk less, are less driven, and experience less enthusiasm. In fact, we may find levels of stimulation that are energizing for extroverts to be tiring or annoying. For example, a noisy party ripe with possibilities for social rewards might be perfect for an extrovert. But for an introvert, this level of stimulation is just too much.
If you want to learn more about the science behind introversion, check out this article I recently wrote. And stay tuned, because I’ll dive more into the science of introversion in my upcoming book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. My book comes out next spring.
Big Changes for Me
For 8 years, I taught elementary and middle school. So, this time of year, I’m usually frantically getting ready for the first days of school. But this year I took a big leap—I quit teaching to work on Introvert, Dear full-time!
It was about time. Introvert, Dear is growing fast. I figured it deserved my full time and attention.
It’s a little weird to not be back in my classroom. There are things I’ll miss—meeting students for the first time, and silly things, like getting new school supplies. But for years, ever since I learned I’m an introvert and started Introvert, Dear, my mission has been to let introverts know it’s okay to be who they are. Now I get to do that, every day. It’s a dream come true!
How to Support Me and Introvert, Dear
I’m now learning to live with less and dealing with things like getting health insurance as a self-employed person (despite all the legislation that was recently passed in the U.S., it’s still ridiculously expensive in my state! Ugg!). I’m also trying to grow Introvert, Dear by publishing more articles and reaching more introverts. Now more than ever, I need your help. If Introvert, Dear has helped you in some way, would you consider supporting me in one of these ways?
- Donate to Introvert, Dear by becoming a patron. I recently revamped the pledge levels and rewards. If every person reading this gave as little as $1 a month, Introvert, Dear would be unstoppable!
- Whenever you shop on Amazon, use this link: http://amzn.to/2aN0jsR (it takes you to the Amazon home page). A small portion of your purchase goes to Introvert, Dear. You can bookmark this link to return to it easily.
- When you read an Introvert, Dear article that resonates with you, share it on social media. Sharing helps Introvert, Dear grow!
One last thing. I recently decided to turn my Facebook profile into (somewhat) of a fan page. If you want to learn more about me (and see the occasional cat picture as well as my rants), feel free to friend me.
If you’re in the U.S., I hope you’re having a relaxing Labor Day. Make sure to slip away from the family cookout for a bit and take some time for yourself today.
Jenn Granneman, creator/editor of Introvert, Dear