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Why Is Social Networking Appealing?
WHY SOCIAL NETWORKING IS SO APPEALING
We get a similar kick out of disclosing stuff as we do from a good meal or making money, say Harvard researchers.
With industry interest in social gaming intensifying, a new research study from Harvard makes for interesting reading this week. The study looked at why tens of millions of people across the world so enjoy publicly sharing their innermost thoughts and activities on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the researchers concluded after a series of scientific experiments 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.
Perhaps not with the same intensity, but the science makes it clear that our brain considers self-disclosure to be a rewarding experience.
The newspaper explains that recent surveys of Internet use show that roughly 80 percent of posts to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook consist simply of announcements about one's own immediate experience.
Lead Harvard 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, using advanced technology like MRI scanning of brain activity.
They found that areas of the brain associated with reward - the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area - were strongly engaged when people were talking about themselves, and less engaged when they were talking about someone else.
The study also looked at how important having an audience is to listen to one's self-disclosure. The researchers found greater reward activity in the brain when people share their thoughts with a friend or family member, and less of a reward sensation when they were told their thoughts would be kept private.
"I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often," Tamir said.
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