Informing Others Is Associated With Behavioral and Neural Signatures of Value

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One of the many proclivities of our species is the drive to share information with others. What drives this unusual proclivity for propagating knowledge? Here, we test a common prediction made by recent theories in this domain: that individuals value opportunities to inform others. Two sets of studies supported this hypothesis. Behaviorally, individuals gave up money to inform others, even in “minimalistic” settings under which informing neither improved participants’ reputation nor provided material benefits to information recipients. Neurally, opportunities to inform others engaged brain regions associated with motivation and reward, including the nucleus accumbens and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Together, these findings suggest that people place intrinsic value on sharing information with others.

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