Date published: 5/16/2014

Professor Matthew Lieberman was quoted in The New York Times in an article about how people seek approval through social media.

Matthew D. Lieberman, a professor of psychology at U.C.L.A. and the author of "Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect," told me that this need for positive social interaction is hardly new. "It's been there in one form or another since before the dinosaurs 250 million years ago," he said. What social media exacerbates is the satisfaction of feeling part of a group, and the pain associated with feeling excluded from a group.

In a study he did with his wife, Naomi Eisenberger, Mr. Lieberman monitored subjects' brains while having them play a video game in which they tossed a ball with two others. But the two others were avatars, and they quickly stopped sharing the ball with the subject. The pain the subjects felt at being cut out was devastating, on par with breaking a leg.

His conclusion: While getting lots of likes or retweets feels great, the feeling of rejection from not getting them is often greater. People's fear of being excluded is so intense, he said, that "even if someone gets on an elevator and the other person steps away, that is enough to make the normal person get all wrinkled up and say: 'What the heck? Is that person doing that to me?'"

The full piece is at:

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