SCIENCE: Social media makes us feel good

As experts in big ideas and harnessing emotion to motivate your audience, we have a special interest in feel good transmitter dopamine and the factors that induce the release of this chemical. Music is a sure fire way to illicit an emotional response, but it looks like something much newer is also having a similar effect on our brains.

A new study indicates that social media like Twitter has the same close link to our neurological make up. When we tweet about something we’ve seen, what we’re up to, or where we’re going, our brains experience a rush of pleasure, much like when we get money or eat food.

Behaviourally, this may not be ground breaking; after all, we love to talk about ourselves and social media allows us to exercise this narcissism to the extreme.

It’s an interesting development to have this narcissism evidenced neurologically, though…

Researchers at Harvard conducted a study examining our brains on a cell and synapse level to work out why 40% of our daily speech is centered around telling others what we think and feel. The reason? It feels good.

Researchers visualised dozens of volunteers’ brain activity using MRI machines, to see which parts were activated when they talked about themselves. In one experiment, about a quarter of volunteers chose to talk about themselves over being paid to talk about others.

The study resulted in an illucidation of how, when we engage in self-disclosure, the meso-limbic dopamine system of our brain is activated, which is associated with that same feel good feeling as listening to music.

So remember, next time you feel you should resist a Facebook status update, we’re wired to want to share. Check out the video above to see what could happen in a society without our beloved social networks… Tune in next time for more big ideas in neuro-science!


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