General, Research, Technology

The attitude of people towards social networks turned out to be similar to the behavior of animals

When social media first appeared, it is unlikelysomeone could have imagined that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would dominate almost every area of ​​our lives. Today we are looking for information, friends, work and a soul mate on the Internet, but most of all, as the results of a new study have shown, we need ... "likes". Recently, an international team of scientists from New York University found that our social media behavior mirrors the nutritional reward behavior seen in rats. More specifically, platforms like Instagram and Facebook are like Skinner's digital box, a laboratory tool that scientists use to study animal behavior by placing a rat (or other small animal) in a box, and then when the rat performs certain actions ( for example, pulls a lever) reward her with food. While the results of the study are somewhat discouraging, the findings do shed light on how different species learn. The authors of the scientific work note that interaction in social networks follows the basic interspecific principles of teaching reward.

The use of social media, especially our efforts to maximize "likes," follows a "reward learning" pattern, a new study by an international team of scientists concludes.

About mice and humans

More than four billion people in 2020spent several hours a day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. In our country, more than 9 million people use social networks every day, and in January 2020, there were 3 billion 80 million social media users... Moreover, according to open sources, forIn 2020, the audience of social networks grew by 9% (that's 321 million new users per year). More than 5 billion people use mobile phones today. Just think about these numbers.

Since humanity today is likenever involved in social media, is it any wonder many people compare social media to an addiction in which people are forced to seek positive feedback such as "likes" rather than direct social interaction and even basic needs such as food and drink.

This is interesting: How has the Internet changed our society?

Every time you get a "like", remember that we are not much different from rats who are ready to do anything for the sake of food.

Considering how the internet and social mediachanged the world, scientists have spent a lot of time studying the behavior of sapiens in a virtual environment. However, the reason why the average person on the planet constantly updates their social media profile was not completely clear. As you can see, these times are now in the past.

To explore the new love of Homo Sapiens,Researchers from Boston University, the University of Zurich and the Swedish Karolinska Institute have tested for the first time whether the use of social media can be explained by how our minds process information and learn from the reward system. As it turns out, social media use follows the pattern "Training is a reward", according to which animals are trained.

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Learning-reward scheme

Authors of the study published in the journalNature Communications analyzed over a million social media posts from over 4,000 users on Instagram and elsewhere. They found that people post their posts in such a way as to maximize the average number of "likes", posting more often in response to a large number of likes and less often when they receive fewer likes.

Note that scientists used computationalmodels to show that this pattern is closely related to the well-known reward learning mechanism - a long-established psychological concept according to which behavior can be conditioned and reinforced by reward. More specifically, our analysis has shown that our social media engagement is driven by similar principles that make animals, like the rats in Skinner's box, strive to grab as much food as possible.

I wonder where the urge to get as many likes as possible will lead us.

The results obtained during the work researchersconfirmed in an online experiment in which subjects could post funny images with phrases or "memes" and get likes as feedback on a platform like Instagram. The results of the experiment showed that, on average, people posted more often when they got more likes.

See also: How social networks help spread pseudoscience

The authors of the scientific work hope that the obtainedthe results will help them better understand the reasons why social media have come to dominate our daily lives, and how to deal with the harmful effects of addiction. Moreover, I would like to believe that the new research will be a great reminder of how rampant surfing the Internet affects our psychological and physical health.