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Getting to know me better: an fMRI study of intimate and superficial self-disclosure to friends during adolescence
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2020, 00:00 authored by Nandi VijayakumarNandi Vijayakumar, J C Flournoy, K L Mills, T W Cheng, A Mobasser, J E Flannery, N B Allen, J H Pfeifer
Adolescence is often defined as a period of social reorientation, characterized by increased engagement with, and reliance on, same-aged peers. Consistent with these shifting motivations, we hypothesized that communicating information about oneself to friends would be intrinsically valued during adolescence. We specifically examined behavioral and neural differences when sharing information of varying depth in intimacy. These questions were investigated in a sample of early adolescent girls (N = 125, ages 10.0 -13.0 years) who completed a self-disclosure monetary choice task while undergoing fMRI. Behaviorally, adolescents gave up more money to share superficial self-referential information than intimate self-referential information with a (real-life) close friend. Neural analyses identified extensive engagement of regions that support social cognition and emotion regulation when engaging in intimate self-disclosure. Behavioral and neural valuation of sharing superficial information were related to individual differences in self-worth and friendship quality. Comparatively, across all levels of analyses, adolescents were less likely to share intimate information. Findings highlight both the value and costs associated with self-disclosure during this time of increased peer sensitivity.