122 Bragging Rights

Based on research by Tamir, D., & Mitchell, J., 2012, written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who only wanted to talk about themselves?

Psychologists Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell from Harvard University recently reported people devote 30-40% of their speech to discussing themselves. In a study to understand what leads people to this amount of disclosure, they evaluated 237 participants. The research included five brain-imaging experiments where they assessed participant’s neural and cognitive functions through use of magnetic resonance imaging, known as an MRI.  Results revealed the desire to share information about the self is more influential than one would have thought.  Participants who engaged in self-disclosure demonstrated a strong association with increased activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system.  This is similar to the same brain sensations that occur in rewarding activities such as eating food or having sex! Self-disclosure may have adaptive advantage:  encourage social bonds, elicit feedback from others to attain self-knowledge, and improve our know-how by learning from others’ experience.

So one way to get others engaged in conversation is to ask them to share something about themselves. You too can share; mutual sharing makes friends feel closer and equally rewarded.  Let’s be aware of the needs of others as well as ourselves.


Tamir, D. I., & Mitchell, J. P. (2012). Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding.    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(21), 8038-8043.

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