You know those people who alway seem to post embarrassing stuff on Facebook? Like about how they pee when they sneeze or they are having a heavy period? Or how they “got lucky” last night? If you’re like me, you probably wonder why they get a kick out of posting such personal information. Luckily, science has provided us an answer.
Turns out there is a biological pay-off to posting TMI. Apparently, it feels really good to overshare. In fact, according to a new study, our brains respond to “oversharing” in the same way they respond to other things that pleasures like sex and chocolate.“The Internet has drastically expanded the number of mediums through which we can talk about ourselves to other people,” says Diana Tamir, a graduate student in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at Harvard and lead author of a study published in the journal PNAS.
“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.”
In short, it did! Tamir and her colleagues found that “self-disclosure” or what we generally refer to as “over-sharing” felt good…really good. TODAY Health wrote about some of the findings of the study, which involved around 300 people who agreed to have an MRI measure brain activity while they disclosed personal information.
Apparently, self-disclosure is so satisfying that some subjects said they would be willing to forgot 17-25% of their potential earnings in order to share personal information.
When you look at the neural regions generally associated with rewards like money or sex or food, those same regions seemed to respond more robustly when people were engaging in self disclosure than when they were not,” says Tamir. “From the evidence we see, there are a couple of different metrics of value — both monetary and neural — that show that self-disclosure is subjectively rewarding to people. It’s valuable. It goes towards explaining why people do it so often.
She also noted that shy and outgoing people both experienced the “thrill” of over-sharing. “You might think that gregarious people are more highly rewarded but shy people also like to share their thoughts,” she says. “My hunch is that everybody can find some kind of value reward in having an audience or a sympathetic ear, regardless whether you do that behavior a lot or a little. It provides you with some sort of reward.”
I certainly find spilling my guts to be satisfying (although I generally don’t do it on Facebook), but I would still choose sex or chocolate over over-sharing any day. What about you? Do you get a kick out of posting TMI?
Photo: Shutterstock/Two Shocked Women Use Computer
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