Introversion is seriously misunderstood and stigmatized, while extroversion is highly favored in our society. There is a biological explanation for introversion, but on the outside, it is often mistaken for antisocial behavior.

Our current dictionary defines an introvert as a shy and reserved type of individual, concerned with self, but this kind of definition doesn't really do introverts any justice. ID - Introversion Defined — is an informative PSA campaign that aims to challenge the pre-conceived ideas about introversion, shattering its misconceptions, while informing the public about the biological inner workings of introverts (compared to extroverts), and instilling an understanding and appreciation for them.

About 1 out of every 3 people you know is an introvert - that is, a person who gets their energy from being alone and expends their energy on socialization, as opposed to the popular extrovert crowd that get their energy from interacting with others, but expend their energy when they are alone. Did you know that these differences are biologically hardwired in our DNA?

It is true that no one individual is an extreme introvert or an extreme extrovert, and everyone exhibits traits of both sides of the spectrum. But studies have shown that people usually lean more on one side of the spectrum than the other, while there are some who are somewhere smack in the middle of the spectrum - known as ambiverts. So while it is important that an introvert gets in touch with their extroverted side, it's just as important for extroverts to be comfortable with their introverted side.

Many great thinkers, pioneers, leaders, engineers, artists, and even actors are introverts. For far too long, our society has placed more importance on extroversion, meanwhile giving introversion a bit of a bad rap as though it needs to be "cured" into extroversion. It is for this reason that this PSA campaign, Introversion Defined, was created: to define introversion for what it is - as well as what it is not.

Defy your dictionary - an introvert is not an antisocial or shy person.

The word “introvert” has become somewhat of a derogatory term to describe someone as withdrawn, antisocial, or shy. There is a fine line between being withdrawn and being reserved, and there’s a difference between loneliness and solitude. Introversion is a preference for a different way of being social, not antisocial behavior. There is a biological explanation for introversion, a reason why solitude is vital for them, and a reason why they think before they speak.

While some introverts can be shy, introversion and shyness are not the same thing. Introverts tend to think before they speak and need to mull things over in their heads before they talk, unlike extroverts who are able to think and speak at the same time. Some extroverts mistake introverts' slow word retrieval for a lack of confidence or interest. Another thing that can be misconstrued for shyness is their preference for being alone after prolonged socialization.

Some introverts can be antisocial, but introversion and being antisocial are in no way synonomous. Introverts get drained after being around people for long periods of time, and can be sensitive to highly stimulated and crowded environments. Unlike extroverts who get their energy from being around people for long periods of time, introverts get their energy from being alone and in quiet environments. This helps them “refuel”, but their need for solitude is often mistaken for being antisocial. It’s not that introverts don’t like being around people, they just cannot stand being around people for as long as extroverts can, as it tires them out and shuts them down. This too, can be mistaken for shyness.

Dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that produces good feelings, plays a role in social interaction, activity, reward, and passion. Dopamine is complex, and is often the reason why we feel, and seek, pleasure - be it winning the lottery, falling in love and having sex, recreational activities, shopping, drugs, or getting those "Likes" on your facebook status. In some people, these dopamine hits can trigger some unhealthy addictions. The name dopamine gets it's name from "dope" - as it triggers a euphoric high and feelings of happiness. Even stress and lack of sleep can bring on this neurotransmitter, which can lead one to feeling alert, and/or giddy.

There are many areas of dopamine to explore, but this neurotransmitter - and the dopamine receptors from which it comes from - is what determines the difference between the social preferences of introverts and extroverts.

which calls for large doses of dopamine. This explains their drive to constantly seek social interaction, activity, and excitement. They are drawn to highly stimulated environments. Being alone for an excessive amount will bore and drain them out. Adrenaline is required for the body to make more dopamine which is why extroverts love diving into the action. The longer the dopamine receptor gene, the more they are likely to be thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkees.

which means they only need dopamine in small doses. What may be a normal amount of dopamine for an extrovert can be too much for an introvert to take in, which can also lead to depression, agitation, or mental illness, and can shut them down. This explains their sensitivity to highly stimulated environments, and excessive social interaction. Introverts get overwhelmed when around people for long periods of time, and so they prefer to have time alone to regain their energy. They also prefer socializing in small groups or one-on-one in quiet surroundings or less-stimulated social environments. There is a different neurotransmitter that dominates the introvert's way of thinking, known as acetylcholine. This also brings feelings of happiness and satisfaction, and contentment. It's a calming neurotransmitter that plays a role in dreaming and imagination, which is why they are deep thinkers and dreamers - fueled by imagination, thoughts, and especially, depthful conversations.

A deficiency in dopamine is unhealthy, and can be the cause for depression, or ADHD. But an excessive amount can be just as bad.

For an introvert, this system lessens the stimuli – as opposed to the extrovert’s. An introvert tends to take in sensory input like a sponge, as they’ve already got a lot of activity going on in their heads. This drives them to get rid of distractions, whether that means seeking a quieter place to work, or looking away when they are trying to think of something to say, in order to concentrate and focus.

The introvert's hypothalamus turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, which saves energy, and also decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Since energy is conserved, it takes more energy output when it comes to social interaction, being in new places, dealing with new circumstances (rather than familiar ones that they prefer). This is why they prefer to take a little more time before entering new situations.

This is where stimuli are received, then decreased,
and sent along to the frontal lobe.

This is where all the internal self-talk happens, and for introverts, this mental conversation will never end and never shut up. This can help aid them with solving problems, analyzing options, and delving deep into subjects, but it can also turn into a never-ending stream of self-doubts and negativity if the introvert allows it. This is why introverts tend to “overthink” things.

Aside from intense thinking, REM dreaming also happens here. Once acetylcholine hits the frontal lobe, it awakens the highest alert brain waves. This is how an introvert engages in deep concentration, focus, memory recollection, and planning. An introvert can come up with many different outcomes, imagine various possibilities, and mull through complexities – and it’s all processed here in the frontal lobe to help aid in making tough decisions.

Memories are formed and stored here, but acetylcholine makes the experiences "personal". This is why an introvert may take criticism personally, or be hard on themselves when they have an experience of failure. The hippocampus is why they take things personally. Their experiences are stored in long-term memory where they can recall them later, and those experiences are regarded as personal. This can bother an extrovert, as an extrovert's pathway bypasses this area, and they may not relate to the introvert very well, and don't tend to take things as personal as introverts do.

This is the emotional center of the brain - where thoughts connect with feelings. This is also the area of the brain that makes us react to fear and threats, real or imagined. For an introvert, since this is the end of the neural pathway, it can take a longer time for them to realize and process their feelings and emotional reactions, than extroverts do. This is why introverts can appear to be reserved on the outside. Also, bad and fearful experiences can seem overwhelming once recalled, and because of this, an introvert may try to avoid conflicts.

Enter the dopamine and the rush it brings. For an extrovert, this system amplifies the stimuli – as opposed to the introvert's.  This turns on the back regions of the brain that hones in on whatever that may catch their attention. This is why extroverts are drawn to high-stimulating environments, exciting activity, crowded places, parties, and why they enjoy them.

The extrovert's hypothalamus needs stimuli to feed this system – the more the better. Without enough, they can shut down. Heart rate and blood pressure go up. However, it can bring about impulsiveness, if the extrovert allows it.  This is why extroverts have a hard time relaxing. Eye contact, socializing, and talking are what gets this system going – listening actually doesn't.

This sends signals to the visual cortex
and sensory areas in the higher regions of the brain.

The emotional center - where thoughts connect with feelings. This is also the area of the brain that makes us react to fear and threats, real or imagined. Extroverts get a rush of dopamine when they react to threats, and they act quickly, without thinking. They can take immediate action in dangerous situations, and is why extroverts are most likely to take risks. But sometimes, an encounter with someone who is very different can trigger the amygdala, and, if the extrovert allows it, they can be irritated by them.

Alpha brain waves turn on, which makes the extrovert alert. This is also the home of short-term memory. Sensory input is processed here. This is why extroverts are good at cramming for exams, responding with comebacks, and working under pressure – in fact they are often motivated by stress and pressure.

So now you know that research has shown that introversion and extroversion in individuals are hardwired in our DNA and brain activity. While each individual can exhibit traits and tendencies of both introversion and extroversion, each of us lean more on one side of the spectrum, or perhaps somewhere in the middle.

Our society, however, has developed a bias towards extroversion. While extroversion is viewed as healthy and normal - introversion is often perceived as something of a pathology, mental illness, or a disappointment to society. Today, introverts are often pressured to "convert" to extroverts, and are found wanting. But without introverts, there would be no theory of relativity, no invention of the lightbulb, no computers, and no Harry Potter, if it weren’t for introverts.

Introverts can accomplish great things just as much as extroverts can, and in ways that extroverts cannot. And they have much to offer because of their introversion, not despite of it. If America is the diverse culture it claims to be, then it must accept introversion, not stigmatize, or try to “fix” it.

Our society benefits from both introverts and extroverts.