Science of being Alone and Success


There is a lot of talk nowadays about introversion and extroversion. You might already know which one you identify with, but do you really understand the difference between the two. The way our brains are wired and our brain chemistry can help us understand what’s really going on in the minds of introverts and extroverts that make them who they are.

In the 1960s, a psychologist named Hans Eysenck proposed a theory that extroverts had a lower level of something called “arousal”. He believed that extroverts required more stimulation from the world to feel more alert and awake than introverts. Introverts were easily over-stimulated.


This theory helps to explain why extroverts require constant social company, and have a stronger sense of risk-taking and challenges. These activities stimulate them. Introverts on the other hand prefer alone time, thriving in place such as their own home, libraries and peaceful parks. Introverts are working on lowering their overstimulation.


This theory helped paved the way for scientists to dive a little deeper into our minds to help understand what defined these two different personalities.

A 2012 study completed by Randy Buckner of Harvard University discovered that introverts tended to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex than extroverts. This is the region of the brain that has been linked to personality, expression, decision making, and abstract thought. Buckner concluded that this might be the reason why introverts’ tended to sit alone and thoroughly think things through before making a decision, while extroverts’ ability to live in the moment and take risks without fully thinking everything through.


But research completed over several decades has shown that the brains of introverts and extroverts are activated differently depending on their circumstances, and it has a lot to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure systems.

In 2013, a study conducted by Cornell University’s Richard Depue showed a difference in the release of dopamine levels in each of the two personality traits. For extroverts, dopamine was released at a greater rate upon receiving a reward. Introverts who prefer to spend some time alone experience less dopamine releases, thus they do not seek rewards in the same way as extroverts.


But it’s not always black and white. We all exist on a spectrum between introversion and extroversion, demonstrating qualities of each depending on the circumstance we are in. If you have partied all weekend, then your extroverted side has been more present. And on Monday you might want to just veg out and watch Netflix in your pajamas by yourself and let your introverted side come out. Being an introvert has many negative connotations to it but it doesn’t mean being a hermit, it just means your need some alone time to recharge.


HOW to:


1.Choose with Confidence (Better Decisions)

Letting your introverted side come more often isn’t a bad thing. When you enjoy your alone time and really get comfortable with yourself, you become your own best friend. This can actually serve you well for many different reasons. One of the main reasons is that you become more confident in yourself and in the choices you make. You will have less stress around what other people think and you become less focused on being a member of a group, you can start to focus on what is in your own best interest.

One of the reasons introverts don’t seek the approval of others is explained by Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College: “Some people simply have a low need for affiliation.”


2. Analytical Thinking

Referring back to the 2012 study done at Harvard University and stating that introverts have more grey matter in the prefrontal cortex than extroverts do, leads to the fact that introverts are more analytical thinkers. Introverts love to spend time alone  and to think more analytically about their choices. When it comes to making big decisions, this can significantly increase the likelihood of selecting the best possible option. Dr. Maryam Jahdi, a physician at Ohio State University, explains that for those who prefer time alone, “behavior is guided more by consequences and less by rewards.”

Being less impulsive can help with all sorts of challenges — everything from wasting money on the latest new trends – to fitting in – to holding out for that bigger, but more elusive, promotion. Holding back, analyzing the situation, and contemplating precisely what move is the best option will help you get ahead.


3. Be in control of your Life

For those who know consequences matter more than rewards, it can be much easier to spend money wisely. Those who love to spend time alone know how to think through decisions and come up with the best possible solution for themselves. This is perfect for making financial decisions which require, “avoiding bad decisions, negative consequences and missed opportunities,” according to Dr. Jahdi.

You don’t need to look any further than Warren Buffet to see this is a key to success. In a US News interview, Buffet is described as “a classic example of an introvert taking careful, well-calibrated risks.” If there is one thing that can help someone achieve success, it’s being smart with money.

So, embrace your alone time and use it wisely — it may be your key to a successful life.




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