Study: Facebook sharing brings same amount of enjoyment as sex & food


by Brooke Strickland

We’ve all been there.  You post a status update and people start liking it, retweeting it, or commenting on it.  But even better? When someone clicks the “share” or “retweet” button and shares it with all of their friends or followers! It’s a strange sense of accomplishment in a way – kind of like a virtual pat on the back for posting something that was worth sharing. 

A recent study shows that you’re not alone in that feeling.  In fact, the Harvard study that was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that food, sex, and Facebook posting views is what your brain likes the most.  In fact, it showed that social media outlets –especially when something you’ve posted is viewed and liked/shared –allow for an increased rate of self-disclosure, which leads to a spike in the amount of dopamine, which the brain produces upon pleasure or anticipation of a reward.  In fact, when people in the study were offered a cash reward for answering questions on a factual basis vs. answering the questions with their own opinions for a lesser reward, most people chose to the option talk about themselves. [1]

So what does this really say about the state of our brains today?  It says we’re technologically-wired.  It says that even without knowing it, we’ve become addicted to the opportunity to stand up, share our opinions, and then get accolades for them.  This ability to do this at a moment’s notice, just by opening your computer, iPad, or Smartphone has made it simple to get on our soapbox and almost instantly receive a virtual reward.  Our brains have come expect this – and our brains are seeing it as the same chemical reward of eating or having sex.  This rewiring of our brains is powerful stuff.

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[1] “Study: Facebook sharing comparable to enjoyment from sex, food.”  CBSDC.  June 23, 2012.  http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/06/23/study-facebook-sharing-comparable-to-enjoyment-from-sex-food/ Accessed June 26, 2012.

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