Using brain imaging, researchers have discovered that pleasure is activated in the brain when people get positive feedback concerning their reputation or character. These researchers do not appear to understand that such pleasure is not necessarily genuine or healthy. A psychological defense, for instance, feels good when it successfully covers up something important that an individual does not want to see about himself.
Few people, experts included, know or address the hidden reasons why we generate such pleasure in receiving praise and validation. Typical is this superficial explanation:
These results [from the research cited above] may explain why Facebook is so popular. It likely isn’t Facebook itself . . . it is all of the self-promoting features that it offers: posting what you are thinking, posting pictures of yourself, giving your opinion on what others post via “likes” . . . throw in a little intermittent reinforcement (e.g., not knowing when the next time someone will “like” or comment on your post) . . . and Facebook has a winning formula . . . Or at least one that gets us hooked.
Yes, but why do we get hooked? Why in heaven’s name do so many of us feel the need to go through the day constantly assessing ourselves and looking for validation. This emotional neediness often shows up as inner dialogue in which we’re trying to establish our importance either to ourselves or to others. [Read more…]