Sharing On Social Networks Triggers The Same Part Of Our Brains As Sex… Sorta

11 May

From Techdirt…

A recent study (pdf) by Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell at Harvard is getting some press for pointing out that sharing information about yourself is “intrinsically rewarding.” In other words, the reason people use Twitter to tell you about what they’re eating for lunch, is because it feels good to do so. I don’t think that’s a particularly surprising finding, but it might counteract some of the claims about how using such sites are making everyone lonely. Of course, the attention getting line is the part about triggering the same parts of the brain as sex — though the details suggest it’s really the same kind of thing as getting a brief glimpse of attractive members of the opposite sex. In other words, science has proved that talking about yourself to lots of people and seeing attractive people make your brain happy. Case closed.

Humans devote 30–40%of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences. What drives this propensity for disclosure? Here, they tested recent theories that individuals place high subjective value on opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others and that doing so engages neural and cognitive mechanisms associated with reward. Five studies provided support for their hypothesis. Self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system. Moreover, individuals were willing to forgo money to disclose about the self. Two additional studies demonstrated that these effects stemmed from the independent value that individuals placed on self-referential thought and on simply sharing information with others. Together, these findings suggest that the human tendency to convey information about personal experience may arise from the intrinsic value associated with self-disclosure….

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