Abstract: Humans routinely share information with one another. What drives this behavior? We used neuroimaging to test an account of information selection and sharing that emphasizes inherent reward in self-reflection and connecting with other people. Participants underwent functional MRI while they considered personally reading and sharing New York Times articles. Activity in neural regions involved in positive valuation, self-related processing, and taking the perspective of others was significantly associated with decisions to select and share articles, and scaled with preferences to do so. Activity in all three sets of regions was greater when participants considered sharing articles with other people rather than selecting articles to read themselves. The findings suggest that people may consider value not only to themselves but also to others even when selecting news articles to consume personally. Further, sharing heightens activity in these pathways, in line with our proposal that humans derive value from self-reflection and connecting to others via sharing.
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