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Harvard Research Finds Talking About Yourself Is Rewarding

By David Wade, WBZ-TV
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Multiple award-winning journalist David Wade co-anchors WBZ-TV Morning...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Some say we’re a nation of over-sharers, which could explain why Facebook is worth $100 billion. But, why do we like to talk about ourselves so much? It turns out, our brains find it to be very rewarding.

“People are just constantly seeking out audiences for their thoughts,” says Diana Tamir, a Harvard Researcher. Somewhat shy, she wondered why everyone else is so chatty. So, she closely studied people’s brain activity. What would happen when people answered questions about their favorite subject: themselves?

Tamir asked really mundane questions like “do you prefer coffee over tea?” or “do you like to snowboard?” And when people were answering those questions Harvard researchers, “saw activity in the neuro-region associated with reward,” says Tamir. That reward area lit up, if you will, when they answered those questions. It’s the same thing you’d see when someone is laughing or getting good food or money.

The Harvard researchers then offered money to their test subjects. They’d offer them four cents to answer questions about someone else and only two cents if they continued to talk about themselves. You guessed it, the test subjects consistently opted for the two pennies.

So does Tamir think this explains the popularity of Facebook and Twitter? “You know this behavior started long before the Internet, when people talked to other humans,” she says. “But, Facebook and Twitter give us a new outlet for this behavior.”

So we have narcissistic noggins. But, why is it rewarding? That just might be Harvard’s next study. And we can’t wait to talk about the results.

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