Researchers at Harvard have gotten to the bottom of why so many of us are compelled to share our every thought, movement, like and want through mediums like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money or having sex. It’s all a matter of degrees of course, talking about yourself isn’t quite as pleasurable as sex for most of us, but the science makes it clear that our brain considers self-disclosure to be a rewarding experience.
This may help explain recent surveys of Internet use that show that roughly 80% of posts to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook consist simply of announcements about one’s own immediate experience.
Lead researcher Diana Tamir and her co-author Jason P. Mitchell devised a series of experiments to measure the reward response that people get when they talk about themselves.
For part of the study they hooked up test subjects to an MRI machine and watched the participants’ brain activity as they answered questions about their own opinions and questions about other people’s opinions.
The researchers found that the brain regions associated with reward — the nucleus accumbens NAcc and the ventral tegmental area VTA — were strongly engaged when people were talking about themselves, and less engaged when they were talking about someone else.
They also found that the test subjects would turn down money just a few cents to talk about someone else, in order to enjoy the more pleasurable sensation of talking about themselves.
Strange Random Reward Quote:
“Men are rewarded or punished not for what they do but for how their acts are defined. That is why men are more interested in better justifying themselves than in better behaving themselves.” – Thomas S. Szasz (Hungarian psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, b.1920)
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- How to avoid the selfishness of social MEdia (adigaskell.org)
- Brains benefit from exercise, many studies show: In-Your-Face Fitness – latimes.com (roscoesdreams.wordpress.com)
- Why We Love Talking About Ourselves (STUDY) (inquisitr.com)
- We Brag Because It Feels as Good as Sex (gizmodo.co.uk)