Looking for a little affirmation that people like you? You may be more likely to head to Facebook in search of "likes," according to a new study.
People who have higher levels of activity in the part of the brain associated with rewards like food and sex when they get positive feedback are more likely to be avid Facebook users, a study by researchers at the Free University of Berlin found. The findings, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, indicate that a need for positive affirmation may drive people to use Facebook.
The study is the first to relate brain activity to social media use, its lead author Dar Meshi wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
“Essentially, a neurobiological link was made between brain activity for reputation-related social reward and intensity of Facebook use,” Meshi wrote.
The researchers made that connection by focusing on the nucleus accumbens -- a part of the brain that’s activated when people receive rewards. The 31 experiment participants filled out a survey about their Facebook use and also filmed an interview video. The next day, the participants were hooked up to a brain scanner while 10 anonymous people watched and reviewed their videos. Researchers found that the participants whose nucleus accumbens got more excited when their video received positive feedback, relative to when the other participants’ videos got positive feedback, were more likely to be active Facebook users.
“We found that we could predict the intensity of people's Facebook use outside the scanner by looking at their brain's response to positive social feedback inside the scanner,” Meshi wrote in his email. “We found that the more sensitive a person’s nucleus accumbens is to discovering their own reputation is good, specifically in relation to discovering another person’s reputation is good, the more likely they are to have an intense relationship with the Facebook.”
But those looking for some positive affirmation maybe shouldn’t rush to Facebook to get it. A study from University of Michigan researchers published earlier this month found that increased Facebook use predicts declines in happiness.