Social media rewards like food, sex

2012-05-12 14:21

Washington - Posting views on Facebook and other social media sites delivers a powerful reward to the brain similar to the pleasure from food and sex, a Harvard study concludes.

The study led by two neuroscientists and published this week concluded that "self disclosure" produces a response in the region of the brain associated with dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure or the anticipation of a reward.

The researchers said most people devote 30 to 40% of their speech to "informing others of their own subjective experiences" but that on social media, this is closer to 80%.

They conclude "that humans so willingly self-disclose because doing so represents an event with intrinsic value, in the same way as with primary rewards such as food and sex."

Although Facebook was not specifically cited in the study, it focused on the brain response of people's "opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others".

"To the extent that humans are motivated to propagate the products of their minds, opportunities to disclose one's thoughts should be experienced as a powerful form of subjective reward," wrote Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell of Harvard's Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab.

The research, published in the May 7 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the study support the notion that humans, like some other primates, will give up some rewards because of a powerful brain response.

The study gave people a small cash reward for answering certain factual questions about things they observe, and a lower reward for offering their own views about a subject. But in many cases, the participants chose a smaller reward if they could talk about themselves.

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-05-12 14:52

    So, in short, facebook (and News24 comment posting) addiction has a biochemical component to it? Makes social media into 'digital' drugs in a way...

      Sematla - 2012-05-12 16:09

      Yeh Veritas, a viagra like component,the news24 "commentators" are the worst users. They usually hump on the first "commentator" for their silly comment to stand a chance of being viewed at the top. And if they like your taste they give you a bonus with a thumb up your...? Damn! addicts.

  • lungile.ndyibithi - 2012-05-12 14:53


  • John - 2012-05-12 15:10

    No. Still prefer sex. Must try sex while posting. I think the wife will have something to say..

      Wes - 2012-05-12 15:31

      Yes stop playing with the mouse rather play with my cat

      Rachell - 2012-05-13 08:20

      Be worried when she *replies* to you while you are posting.. :)

      Preshen - 2012-05-14 08:39

      your post will read "Gone in 60 seconds"

  • Fussed - 2012-05-12 15:52

    Just hope there is enough lead in my pencil to carry on writing

  • Hat3d - 2012-05-12 16:37

    Read my articles... Nope... not as good as sex

  • Pagel - 2012-05-12 16:47

    As good as sex? - Speak for yourself.

  • Carol-lynne - 2012-05-12 18:37

    WHATEVER7b Psychobabble!

  • tobydt - 2012-05-12 19:36

    "Posting views on Facebook and other social media sites delivers a powerful reward to the brain similar to the pleasure from food and sex, a Harvard study concludes." Ur doing it wrong!

  • wonga.m.tola - 2012-05-13 10:28

    If then that is the case brain condoms and diet pills should be made to prevent brain aids and obesity.

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