Is addiction about the reward or the anticipation of that reward?
Is addiction about the reward of dopamine or the anticipation of that reward?
Neurologist Robert Sapolsky explains that it's the uncertainty of the reward that drives behaviour. “Dopamine” Sapolsky argues, “is about the pursuit of happiness not the happiness itself.”
Interestingly, we are able to keep our dopamine levels up for decades and decades waiting for the reward (think, “American Dream”). This is perhaps one reason why we're able to goto school, work hard, for an uncertain payoff.
Robert Sapolsky is the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers.
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