Did you know that we devote 30–40% of what we say in our lifetime to informing others of our own private experiences or personal relationships? That’s a lot of time spent talking about yourself! And that number may be on the rise with social media’s influence; According to a new Harvard study, 80% of posts to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook consist of mainly announcements about people’s immediate experiences – no matter how intriguing they are.
So what possesses people to share such information? Harvard neuroscientists found that those who frequently spoke about themselves receive the same pleasures lit up by food, chocolate, money and even sex. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that sharing your thoughts had “intrinsic value,” so much in fact that people in their study would rather give up money than their ability to boast about their successes.
Researchers used MRI scans to monitor brain activity in nearly 300 participants as they were asked to speak about themselves and others. When talking about themselves, it linked to the brain that sparks rewards from sex, winning money or enjoying a good meal.
“The hypothesis we wanted to test was whether or not this behaviour provided people with intrinsic or subjective value – did it feel good to do,” said Diana Tamir, a graduate student who led the study. “This helps to explain why people so obsessively engage in this behaviour. It’s because it provides them with some sort of subjective value. It feels good, basically.”
So go ahead and hate on the over-sharers on Facebook and Twitter – they don’t care, in fact, they’re probably feeling pretty good!