Historically, there’s been a divide between those who want to stand out and those who want to blend in. Introverts have been categorized as shy and reserved; extroverts as loud and social. The terms were first coined in the 1920s by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to explain where people receive their energy, explaining their social activities. Recently, research has revealed that most people are a mix of the two. They prefer being around people and being alone at different times in their life.
Introverts receive their energy from being alone, this allows them to recharge. Which means introverts tend to remove themselves from social situations. Thus, they are stereotyped as antisocial while really introverts can get overwhelmed excess stimuli. Extroverts receive energy from being around others and seek out social situations to recharge their social battery, not becoming overwhelmed as easily.
This ‘energy’ is the response to the chemical dopamine and its function in the reward system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that transmits signals between neurons. It is also a hormone released in the brain stimulating the mind creating a ‘good feeling’. This stimulation in the brain, this is where introverts and extroverts differ.
Extroverts receive a rush in two parts of their brain from social stimuli, including the amygdala, which processes emotional stimuli, and the nucleus accumbens, which is central to the brain’s reward system. Introverts also receive the same rush but become overstimulated easier causing them to remove themselves and seek time to recuperate. The same functions are there, but that contrast of stimulus is where their source of energy differs.
Where most people fall is in a third group called ambiverts. Ambiverts have introverted and extroverted characteristics, meaning they get energy from people and from solitude. They love hanging out with friends but need a quiet night every once and awhile. An extension of that, Omnivert is the transition one goes from an extrovert to an introvert. Where they can crave social interactions as one point or have time of solitude, again not being completely polar.
Although, there is a difference between extroverts and introverts most people have characteristics and qualities of both. Chemicals like dopamine explain this difference and better show how the brain works in everyday life. Understanding why some people search for company while some seek alone time is important in relating to others.