When a Facebook friend clicks 'like' on your status update or photo, it has an effect on your brain similar to the enjoyment we get from food and sex, a new study has found.
So that's why we can't help sneaking a look at our Facebook notifications while waiting for the lift to arrive: because it's akin to devouring a block of Cadbury's or getting some bedroom action?
Well, maybe not quite...
Researchers at Harvard University found that the "self-disclosure" we experience when we share information on social media results in a spike of dopamine released in the brain as we anticipate our friends or followers viewing, liking or replying to our post.
So how did those clever researchers make these findings? Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell of Harvard's Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab gave study participants the choice of either a small amount of money to answer fact-based questions, or even less money to share their personal opinions. What they found was most people chose the latter: to accept less money and get to talk about themselves.
"Just as monkeys are willing to forgo juicy rewards to view dominant groupmates and college students are willing to give up money to view attractive members of the opposite sex, our participants were willing to forgo money to think and talk about themselves," the study explained.
Could these findings finally reveal the secret behind the worldwide popularity and success of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms?
"Humans so willingly self-disclose because doing so represents an event with intrinsic value, in the same way as with primary rewards such as food and sex," they wrote.