Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 2012

Unconventional: Freedom of Speech

Christopher Durso

For people to give something, they need to get something in return – and that includes everyone who participates in your meetings and events.  Your exhibitors want access to potential customers.  Your speakers want exposure and influence.  Your attendees want a toolkit for their job and a roadmap for their career. 

But a new study suggests that, at least when it comes to sharing their own experiences and opinions, people come pretty cheap.  Writing in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), Harvard University psychology professors Diane I. Tamir and Jason P.  Mitchell find that “self-disclosure” triggers activity in the area of the brain that produces the pleasure-causing chemical dopamine- and, as a result, that people are willing to forego monetary rewards to talk about themselves because they find it “intrinsically rewarding”:

“In an ultimate sense, the tendency to broadcast one’s thoughts and beliefs may confer an adaptive advantage in individuals in a number of ways: by engendering social bonds and social alliances between people; by eliciting feedback from others to attain self-knowledge; by taking advantage of performance advantages that result from sharing one’s sensory experience; or by obviating the need to discover firsthand what others already know, thus expanding the amount of know-how any single person can acquire in a lifetime.  As such, the proximate motivation to disclose our internal thoughts and knowledge to others around us may serve to sustain the behaviors that underlie the extreme sociality of our species.”

Translation: Keep those roundtables, small-group discussions, networking events, and one-on-one mentoring programs coming.

For more information: convn.org/self-disclosure .

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