Monday, February 22, 2016

Are We Addicted to Facebook or to Ourselves?

Are We Addicted to Facebook, or Are We Just Addicted to Ourselves?
Dr. Judson Brewer

Why is Facebook like crack cocaine? Here's a little quiz: Do you find yourself on Facebook longer or more often than planned? Have you given up or reduced your involvement in social, occupational or recreational activities due to Facebook? Have you made a conscious but unsuccessful effort to reduce your Facebook "use"? So to what, exactly, are we addicted?

Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell at Harvard performed a simple study: They put people in their fMRI scanner and gave them a choice to (1) report their own opinions and attitudes, (2) judge the attitudes of another person, or (3) answer a trivia question, while they measured the participants' brain activity. The catch was that each choice was associated with a monetary payoff, which allowed the scientists to test if individuals were basically willing to give up money to self-disclose. And they were.

On average, participants lost an average of 17 percent of potential earnings to think and talk about themselves! Why would anyone give up good money to do this? Not dissimilar to individuals who forgo job and family responsibilities due to various drug problems, during self-disclosure, these participants activated their Nucleus Accumbens -- the very brain region that lights up when someone takes cocaine or other drugs and is important in the development of addictions. Read the rest of the story.

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