Study Finds ‘Likes’ May Be Addictive

Could explain why so many spend time on social media

When someone posts a Facebook interest, update, or picture, you will usually see individuals clicking the “like” button to show appreciation or interest in the posting. When people click such a “like” button, individuals will feel better about themselves. Now, a new study from researchers at the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience have found they can predict persons’ Facebook use by looking at their brain reaction to positive feedback.

“Specifically, a region called the nucleus accumbens, which processes rewarding feelings about food, sex, money and social acceptance became more active in response to praise for oneself compared to praise of others. And that activation was associated with more time on the social media site.”

It turns out that virtual affirmation that is derived from the liking of statuses is actually addictive. That may help researchers unravel why so many spend so much time on Facebook.

“On the social media site, the pleasure deriving from attention, kind words, likes, and LOLs from others occurs only sporadically,” said the researchers. “Such a pattern for rewards is far more addictive than receiving a prize every time, in part because the brain likes to predict rewards, and if it can’t find a pattern, it will fuel a behavior until it finds one. So if the rewards are random, the quest may continue compulsively.”

The addiction to “likes” or other forms of appreciation may not wholly explain individuals intense interest in social media. However, it would at least give some form of indication of at least part of the phenomenon that continues to change the social interaction of so many.

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