Narcissism: Why Boasting Online Gives People The Same High As Sex

May 10, 2012
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Boasting about yourself, particularly on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, really does make you feel better, a study has suggested.

Neuroscientists found that those who frequently spoke about themselves receive similar pleasures sparked by food, chocolate money or even sex.

Harvard University researchers concluded these actions light up the same areas of the brain which react to rewards.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNA], found that sharing your thoughts had “intrinsic value”.

Participants in the research were also so intent on documenting achievements they would rather forgo money than give up their ability to boast about their successes.

The findings also apply to those people who talk about their successes in person as well as on social networks.

Experts said the findings might explain why many people disclose personal, and sometimes intimate, details about themselves online.

Previous studies have found that 30 to 40 per cent of human speech is used to relay information about private experiences or personal relationships.

This compared to four in five posts on social media sites were found to be about a person’s immediate experience.

“The Internet has drastically expanded the number of mediums through which we can talk about ourselves to other people,” said Diana Tamir, a graduate student who led the study.

“We were interested in why people engage in self-disclosure so seemingly excessively.

“The hypothesis we wanted to test was whether or not this behavior provided people with intrinsic or subjective value – did it feel good to do it.”

She added: “This helps to explain why people so obsessively engage in this behavior. It’s because it provides them with some sort of subjective value. It feels good, basically.”

The team conducted five experiments on almost 300 people most of them from in and around the university.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners to monitor brain activity in subjects as they were asked to discuss their own beliefs and thoughts as well as their peers.

They discovered that when they spoke about themselves, there was greater activity in the meso-limbic dopamine system of the brain than when they spoke about someone else.

The results showed that by talking about themselves, it linked to the brain that sparks rewards from sex, winning money or enjoying a good meal.

“Self-disclosure is a behavior that we do all of the time, day in and day out. When you talk to people, they’ll often talk about themselves,” Miss Tamir said.

“On Twitter and Facebook, people are primarily posting about what they’re thinking and feeling in the moment. This is one piece of evidence about why we may do that.

“You might think that gregarious people are more highly rewarded but shy people also like to share their thoughts.”

In a separate test the Harvard team offered the test subjects small amounts of money if they answered questions about somebody other than themselves, such as US President Barack Obama.

But they regularly opted to relinquish between 17 per cent and 25 per cent of their potential earnings just to boast about their own lives.

Source: Telegraph

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(@witega) (@witega)
10 years ago

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