Remember the last time you did a puzzle or were challenged to complete one. Do you remember the absolute focus that it took over your body and how you couldn’t think of almost anything else while doing that puzzle? You’ll also remember how much fun the puzzle actually was and how happy you felt when you completed it.
All of this may sound very unfamiliar to some that don’t like puzzles, but science, psychology and biology is there. Humans as a species absolutely adore solving puzzles and problems. It gives us quite a lot of happiness and motivation to keep moving forward. In fact, it can be associated with the evolution of the human race. The more puzzles and problems we solved with our creative tendencies the more things became easier for us.
We are very sensory-dependant in terms of feedback. Whenever you solve a puzzle you immediately understand that you just succeeded at something. The brain then bombards us with dopamine that triggers our “happy place” mood.
Dopamine’s effect on the brain
Dopamine is our “feel good” hormone. The brain releases dopamine when we are having fun, when we’re eating something delicious, when we get excited and etc. Every time you felt genuinely happy was because your brain was producing this hormone and helping you stay in a really nice mood.
It turns out that solving problems is one of the biggest, if not the biggest source of dopamine for the brain. The number of focus puzzles put us into materializes into dopamine before during and after solving it.
It could also be an evolutionary thing. Imagine our ancestors, barely being able to light a fire solving the puzzle of catching dinner. They’d have to consider where everybody would stand, what weapons to use and how to catch the animal. The reward was having food that day, so the reward system was as high as it could get.
Nowadays, we don’t need to trap our food, but solving puzzles still gives us that exhilarating sense of power, happiness, and comfort.
Harnessing the power of dopamine
Dopamine being present in puzzles is nothing new, especially for people making these puzzles for entertainment purposes. Game developers that create these puzzle-like instances in their games take weeks if not months consulting with biologists as well as psychologists to determine the perfect method of implementing this feature.
This has recently moved to the offline segment as well. According to arguments expressed here, puzzle-likes games of which escape rooms are a big part of, are going to become the ultimate entertainment method in the future, especially for the upcoming generation which is so good and skillful at taking in information and analyzing it.
In the past, even a small challenge for the mind required some kind of action from the person to find it, but now it’s just a matter of seconds before you can find a quiz or an interesting game online. This is something that new generations have been harnessing and will continue to do so well into the future.
Our love of puzzles has given us more complex puzzles to have fun with and to be honest, I don’t think that this cycle will ever stop.