Tips&TricksRats taking selfies for fun highlights the addictive nature of social media, scientist suggests

Rats taking selfies for fun highlights the addictive nature of social media, scientist suggests

Rat surprised by the sight of a human
Rat surprised by the sight of a human
Images source: © Getty Images | Francisco Martins
9:21 AM EST, January 30, 2024

Rats, part of the mammal family known as rodents, have spread worldwide, excluding Antarctica. These gentle, exceptionally clever creatures are drawn to humans. They can form bonds with humans comparable in strength to those of dogs.

Many people choose to breed rats. Enthusiasts consider them loving, loyal, and highly intelligent. A certain French artist sought to test the intelligence of these creatures. He taught them an unusual task: to take selfies.

Taught rats to take selfies, led to the animals 'snapping' photos incessantly

Dr. Burrhus Frederic, one of the most renowned psychologists known for investigating behaviorist theories, conducted studies on human behavior in the 1950s. Frederic posited that human behavior should be attributed not to personality but to the external environment. This theory inspired Augustin Lignier, an esteemed French photographer, to experiment with rats.

The French artist spent two months teaching the rats to operate a photobooth. The animals learned to press a small shutter button that captured their photos. At the beginning of the experiment, the rats were rewarded with a sugar cube every time they pressed the button. Their understanding developed rapidly, and they soon took pictures purely for enjoyment. The animals took hundreds of amusing photos, which can be seen on the artist's official website.

The pleasure engineered by social media creators

Ligner's experiment was designed to demonstrate that rat behavior is no different from human behavior when using social media. The artist wanted to illustrate how companies operating applications such as Facebook and Instagram keep us enthralled. Our "addictive sugar" is the comments and likes of other users. They induce the same responses as a rat receiving a sugar cube. This is a dose of dopamine, a hormone responsible for the feeling of happiness and motivating us to act.

It's estimated that up to 10 percent of Americans are addicted to social media. "Research indicates that shares and likes stimulate the same areas of the brain and trigger the same chemical reactions as drugs like cocaine," specialists from the American Addiction Centers explain.

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