As per a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, parallels can be drawn between behaviour of animals in seeking food rewards and human’s seeking social media likes. Let’s learn more about how this “reward learning” works.
Crux of the Matter
Reel Over Real?
These days, some people choose positive online social feedback such as “likes” and “shares” over socializing with actual people and basic needs like eating and drinking.
What Is This New Study?
To examine these motivations, 1 million+ social media posts were analysed, from over 4,000 users on Instagram and other sites and apps.
Why Do We Do What We Do?
They found that people post less, in the case of lower likes. Computational models revealed that this is similar to reward learning, which uses incentives to change the behaviour of a human or an animal.
Food First For Animals…
Animals like rats maximize their food rewards in a Skinner Box. It is a tool in which the subjects placed in it accesses food by taking certain actions like pressing a lever.
And Likes For Us?
These results were further tested in an online experiment, where humans could post memes and receive likes as feedback. So they posted more when they received more likes.
It’s not the reward itself, but the expectation of a reward that powerfully influences our emotional reactions and memories. The spots are parts of the brain that are activated on getting a reward.
These findings can help researchers understand more about social media addiction and how we can become more self-aware about it.
- Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. According to Matthew Crawford, “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.”
- The first like button was created in 2005 at Vimeo, with a team comprising Andrew Pile, Jake Lodwick, Kunal Shah, and Zach Klein. It was meant to be a more casual alternative to “favorites“, and was heavily inspired by “Diggs” from the site Digg.com.
- In 2017, a man was fined 4,000 Swiss francs by a Swiss regional court for liking defamatory messages on Facebook written by other people which criticized an activist. According to the court, the defendant “clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own“.