Why people love to talk about themselves

“Talking about ourselves . . . triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Forty percent of everyday speech is devoted to telling others about what we feel or think, say researchers. That’s because it feels so great.

“Self-disclosure is extra rewarding,” said Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir.

In several tests, they offered the volunteers money if they chose to answer questions about other people, such as President Obama, rather than about themselves, paying out on a sliding scale of up to four cents. Questions involved casual matters such as whether someone enjoyed snowboarding or liked mushrooms on a pizza. Other queries involved personality traits, such as intelligence, curiosity or aggression.

Despite the financial incentive, people often preferred to talk about themselves and willingly gave up between 17% and 25% of their potential earnings so they could reveal personal information.

Via Roger Sweeny, who wonders “if this is one reason why teaching, even with all the crap, can be so pleasurable, even addictive. If you talk about what you know and care about, you are in a certain sense talking about yourself — and the more personal your teaching, the more true that is.”

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Comments

  1. This explains why those of us who blog without pay do so!

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    And I wonder if it’s one reason teachers generally don’t like “scripted learning” programs. Even if the result is good, the process is much less satisfying.