Like oder Dislike: Soziale Bedürfnisse motivieren uns zum Lernen

Researcher Franca Parianen at LEARNTEC
Researcher Franca Parianen at LEARNTEC

A warm welcome or a cold shoulder? Understand others or misunderstand them? Achieve success or suffer failure? – Social life is a significant motivator for human beings. Our brainware can be actively encouraged to learn. The researcher Franca Parianen explains how at LEARNTEC 2019.

What needs do we yearn to satisfy? What drives us? What is the source of our motivation? And why do we sometimes give up? In her lecture “83 Billion Neurons Like It: Understand and Utilize our Brain’s Motivating Power”, the social scientist and neuroscientist Franca Parianen sheds light on these questions from the perspective of social life. After all, humans originated as social beings – although, as Parianen wryly observes, many people try very hard to conceal that fact. That’s why social life is a decisive driving force behind our actions and behaviours.

Learning as a Social Motivation for Survival

Life doesn’t go smoothly without cooperation. This inescapable fact intensively influences learning. We acquire a large part of our abilities in order to get along well with others and to keep up with them. From the moment of our birth, we try to understand the actions of our fellow human beings. We seek their approval and shun their disapproval, which show us what is right and what is wrong. “That’s why we imitate even the silliest facial expression – because, who knows, it could possibly be important”, explains Parianen, who researches the fundamentals of human behaviour on the neuronal and hormonal level at Helmholtz Institute of the University of Utrecht. When we consider this strong motivation and other driving forces, we can better understand many phenomena: from the sense (and nonsense) of social rewards to disappointment, and from the “wisdom of the many” to the foolishness of the flock.

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