While dopamine used to be associated chiefly with “the ‘pleasure’ systems of the brain”, recent research suggests it “causes seeking behaviour”, writes Susan Weinschenk in Pyschology Today.
“Dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases your general level of arousal and your goal-directed behaviour.”
It’s magnified by those “Pavlovian cues”, writes Weinschenk. “If there is a small, specific cue that signifies something is going to happen, that sets off our dopamine system.”
That seductively winking LED on a BlackBerry, for instance. Or the postie nearing your home, perhaps.
What to do? Disable the cues, says the good doctor.
Automatic notifications are touted as wonderful features of hardware, software, and apps. But they are actually causing you to be like a rat in a cage. If you want to get work done you need to turn off as many auditory and visual cues as possible. It’s the best way to prevent and break the dopamine loops.