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Over-Sharing on Facebook and Twitter Rewarding for the Brain

Ever wonder why we over-share our every thought and movement on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Four Square, Google Plus and Pinterest? A recent study conducted by Harvard University suggests that people find as much pleasure in talking about themselves as they do while eating, getting money and having sex.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 66 percent of adults use social media to connect with family members, friends and co-workers. Now we know why. While talking about yourself for most people can’t possibly be quite as pleasurable as having sex or earning money, research shows that the brain does consider self-disclosure a rewarding experience.

The study, conducted by Diana Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell from Harvard’s Department of Psychology, suggests that the brain regions associated with reward were strongly engaged when people talked about themselves, and less engaged when they talked about someone else.

In order to measure the participant’s response to self-disclosure, the researchers hooked them up to MRI machines and measured their brain response to questions about their own opinions and other people’s opinions.

“We didn’t know if self-disclosure was rewarding because you get to think about yourself and thinking about yourself is rewarding, or if it is important to have an audience,” Tamir told the LA Times.

The researchers found that the participants found greater reward brain activity when participants shared their thoughts with family and friends, versus listening to the thoughts of others.

Shockingly, although only offered a few cents, the participants even turned down money to talk about someone else so they could talk about themselves.

“I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often,” Tamir said. “I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other.”

Facebook and Twitter may really be candy for the brain after all.



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