Chapter

Web 2.x

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Abstract

The digital revolution has changed every aspect of our daily life. Powered by smaller devices and faster computer networks, humanity is living in the age of digital transposition—where many traditionally physical tasks are accomplished through the Internet. From shopping to finding a residence to live in, from communicating with acquaintances to finding a date, our experiences are increasingly captured in digital bits, transmitted at breakneck speeds over the air and through wires using wireless and broadband Internet. Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web has evolved into a sustainable service used by almost 40% of the world’s population. This chapter takes a preparatory look at the state of the Web and its origin in the light of data signals.

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Our reputation is important to us; we've experienced natural selection to care about our reputation. Recently, the neural processing of gains in reputation (positive social feedback concerning one's character) has been shown to occur in the human ventral striatum. It is still unclear, however, how individual differences in the processing of gains in reputation may lead to individual differences in real-world behavior. For example, in the real-world, one way that people currently maintain their reputation is by using social media websites, like Facebook. Furthermore, Facebook use consists of a social comparison component, where users observe others' behavior and can compare it to their own. Therefore, we hypothesized a relationship between the way the brain processes specifically self-relevant gains in reputation and one's degree of Facebook use. We recorded functional neuroimaging data while participants received gains in reputation, observed the gains in reputation of another person, or received monetary reward. We demonstrate that across participants, when responding to gains in reputation for the self, relative to observing gains for others, reward-related activity in the left nucleus accumbens predicts Facebook use. However, nucleus accumbens activity in response to monetary reward did not predict Facebook use. Finally, a control step-wise regression analysis showed that Facebook use primarily explains our results in the nucleus accumbens. Overall, our results demonstrate how individual sensitivity of the nucleus accumbens to the receipt of self-relevant social information leads to differences in real-world behavior.
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