Many people constantly update about their lives on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter mainly because of the “kicks” that self-disclosure offers, according to a new Harvard study.
The study found that sharing personal information is as good as eating food or even having sex. The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), regions that are associated with reward, were active when people talked about themselves.
The researchers hooked participants on functional magnetic resonance scanners to know how the brain responds when the participants are asked questions about themselves or others.
In another part of the study, participants were given a choice of earning money (in cents) if they answered a question about other people. If the participant chose to answer a question about themselves or their opinion on things they wouldn’t be given any money.
Interestingly, participants gave up to 25 percent of their potential earnings just to answer questions about themselves.
Also, the study found that knowing that one has an audience is more rewarding than self-introspection.
"We didn't know if self-disclosure was rewarding because you get to think about yourself and thinking about yourself is rewarding, or if it is important to have an audience," Diana Tamir, lead author said.
Nearly 30-40 percent of what we say is devoted primarily to inform others about us, the study says.
Previous research has linked self-disclosure on social media to subjective well-being.
"I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often. I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other,” said Tamir.
"It rings true to me. We love it if other people listen to us. Why else would you tweet?" James Pennebaker psychologist at the University of Texas, who wasn’t involved in the present study said.