Eli5: Why do some tasks release enough dopamine to keep you engaged for hours (scrolling on a phone app) while other tasks with similar effort output (answering an email/doing work on your phone) seems so exhausting?

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Eli5: Why do some tasks release enough dopamine to keep you engaged for hours (scrolling on a phone app) while other tasks with similar effort output (answering an email/doing work on your phone) seems so exhausting?

In: Biology

I might be wrong here, but here’s my understanding of it.

You naturally optimize for most dopamine from least effort. Thinking burns energy, so theres much more spend on a thought out email or in depth discussion, vs passively taking in posts.

Posting memes or short posts has slightly more spend, but with a much higher potential dopamine payout – 100s or 1000s of upvotes. Emails generally have a smaller audience, only a few payouts on dopamine.

Dopamine is largely used as a “reward” in the brain, getting released when you complete something. Social media is engineered so that you are interacting with potentially dozens of posts each minute, with each interaction counting as a “completion” and earning that dopamine kick. Additionally, when you’ve interacted with one post, the post right below it serves to “tease” your brain with the prospect of another kick, keeping you engaged in the app.

You get excited by watching good apps etc vs boring work jobs, doesn’t matter how much you are moving your thumb etc. It’s all in your head