We Brag Because It Feels as Good as Sex

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It often seems like a lot of people sure love talking about themselves. But now scientists are working out why we love to brag, and it turns out it's not really our fault: talking about yourself provides the exact same sensation as great food, money and sex.

The research, which was carried out at Harvard University and is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, used brain scans to identify which parts of the brain are associated with talking about ourselves.

To do that, they asked offered participants money if they chose to answer questions about other people, such as President Obama, rather than about themselves. The questions ranged from the banal—say, whether they liked mushrooms on a pizza—to the personal, relating to qualities such as intelligence, curiosity or aggression.


Despite financial incentive, people often preferred to talk about themselves and forgo earnings. Not only that, but fMRI scans confirmed that, when they chose to talk about themselves, the meso-limbic dopamine system in the brain became active—the same area that responds to reward and satisfaction from food, money or sex.

All of which explains rather neatly why people just love to talk about themselves on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Diana Tamir, one of the researchers, explains:

"Self-disclosure is a behavior that we do all of the time, day in and day out: When you talk to people, they'll often talk about themselves. On Twitter and Facebook, people are primarily posting about what they're thinking and feeling in the moment. This is one piece of evidence about why we may do that."


So however much you may want them to stop, know that it just ain't gonna happen—our brains are just hard-wired that way. [PNAS]

Image by Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock