Lab Director: Diana Tamir, PhD

Selfish and Social Motives


Both the internal and external worlds exert an enormous influence on our thoughts and behaviors. On the one hand, our subjective perspective wholly determines the contents of our mind. On the other hand, our survival necessitates that we escape our subjective perspective and think about the external social world. We are interested in understanding this tension.

For example, observe any social interaction, and you will almost certainly see that humans have a pervasive tendency to broadcast information about themselves to other people. What motivates self-disclosure—a pervasive, self-centered and social act? We find using both functional neuroimaging and behavioral economics methods that people value any opportunity to share information with others - both self-referential and arbitrary information alike (Tamir & Mitchell, 2012Tamir, Zaki, & Mitchell, 2015). Ongoing projects are exploring social proximity, social distance, and social deprivation as powerful manipulations for altering these basic social motives.

Social media have generated an explosion of Internet sharing. How do social media exploit our selfish and social motives (Tamir & Ward, 2015)? How can researchers harness social media to learn about the building blocks of the social mind (Meshi, Tamir, & Heekeren, 2015)? Current projects in the lab are using machine learning techniques to capitalize on the explosion of shared data on social media such as Twitter.

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