How social networks affect human behavior

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Every day, more than 4 billion messages are posted on Facebook and about 500,000 on Twitter. In more than half of the cases, these are user-edited publications that find the information they contain interesting.

Why are some messages shared at an incredible speed while others receive almost no attention? And what is the influence of reposts on human behavior?

The fight for values

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at the motivations of a person who was resting a publication. For these purposes, they asked 80 people to read for a few hours the publications of the New York Times website to decide whether or not they were ready to share them on their Facebook page.

During this experiment, neurobiologists observed the brain activity of subjects using magnetic resonance imaging.

If a participant wanted to share a message, there was activation of several regions of his brain: the medial prefrontal cortex, the cortex of the back of the corpus callosum, the precuneus, the temporo-parietal node and the temporal sulcus. upper right.

These areas are related to the regulation of social behavior and the prediction of the consequences of an action that is carried out from the point of view of individual values ​​and social norms.

The results of the experiment showed that brain activity predicted the viral character of a given article more reliably than the conscious desire to share it. The researchers compared the list of publications that the subjects wanted to display on their page to the real reposts on the social networks.

The most popular articles on Facebook were those that caused the most remarkable increase in the activity of the “values” areas of the participants’ brains. On the other hand, an express willingness to share a publication did not always mean that the article would necessarily be popular.

Rest and forget

According to a Chinese study , a too strong passion for reposts could negatively affect memory and learning abilities. The researchers drew these conclusions after having read to 80 students of Peking University messages on the Weibo social network (Chinese Twitter). Some subjects had the right to share messages, while others could only read them.

Participants were then asked to take a test of the content of the publications they read. The results of the subjects who had actively rested interesting messages, were found on average half as bad as those of the students deprived of this possibility. Participants had a hard time remembering the information they shared on social media.

Some time later, scientists replicated this experience by expanding it a bit. Thus, they proposed to the subjects not only to work with messages on Weibo, but also to read an article from the science magazine New Scientist to pass an understanding test. Once again, those who did not share social media messages performed the best.

The researchers explain this assessment by the fact that the amateurs of reposts undergo a cognitive overload: it is necessary to make some effort to decide whether or not to share such or such information.

This makes it difficult to understand the meaning of the messages, and in principle hinders the process of education.

The findings of Chinese scientists were indirectly confirmed by a study of their American and Dutch counterparts. After analyzing the academic results of 219 American university students, they found that the scores of those who used social media during exam preparation were, on average, 20% worse than those of their classmates. were completely devoted to their studies.

An altered reality

According to data from Columbia University scientists , 72% of students trust links and messages sent by their friends. They are especially ready to swallow information that is obviously false if it comes from a contact on the internet.

Most users share their friends’ messages and cut ties with those with opposing views. This is why obvious infoxes – for example, about the harmful nature of vaccination – are shared with incredible speed among those who are connected to each other on the internet. A person is thus in a bubble of information , which could considerably affect his vision of reality.

Older people are the most vulnerable from this point of view. According to researchers from the universities of New York and Princeton, 11% of Facebook users over 65 years old share false information, while only 3% in the 18-29 group.

A positive message

According to researchers at the University of California at San Diego, positive messages elicit a stronger response from the audience than negative ones. Scientists have analyzed more than a billion status updates from 100 million Facebook users to establish that a negative message caused an average of 1.29 status updates among the author’s friends against 1,75 if there is a positive message.

The activity on social networks is also related to the duration of life. Observations on 12 million Americans showed that the risk of premature death was 12% lower among Facebook users than among those who did not use this social network.

Overall, people with developed social contacts – regardless of their online activity – live longer than lonely people or those whose communication is limited to the internet.

This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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