Social media offers sex-like brain reward, says study


'Self-disclosure' through mediums like social media offers a sex-like brain reward, says a new study.

New research from Harvard University says that talking about oneself produces a brain response similar to the release of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure.

The study found that around 40 percent of daily speech is about telling others how we feel or what we think about things.

That number jumped to 80 percent on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

"Self-disclosure is extra rewarding," said lead author Diana Tamir, a Harvard neuroscientist, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"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," she said, according to AFP.

The researchers conducted five experiments with over 300 participants.

Some of the studies saw participants asked their opinions while being scanned by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines, fMRIs, to measure blood flow in the brain.

When talking about themselves, volunteers showed activity in regions of the brain associated with pleasure.

According to MSNBC, another study asked questions in exchange for varying amounts of money, with less rewards for questions about themselves and more for questions about others.

The study showed that people were more likely to answer questions about themselves, such as pizza topping choices, than they were about others, despite the money.

The Wall Street Journal said that participants were willing to give up between 17 and 25 percent of their possible earnings just to talk about their preferences or feelings.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Will you keep The World spinning?

Donations from listeners like you are absolutely crucial in funding the great music and human-centered global news you hear on The World. Recurring gifts provide predictable, sustainable support — letting our team focus on telling the stories you don’t hear anywhere else. If you make a gift of $100 or pledge $10/month we’ll send you a curated playlist highlighting some of the team's favorite music from the show Donate today to keep The World spinning.