Social connection can be a rich source of happiness. Humans routinely go out of their way to seek out social connection and avoid social isolation. What are the proximal forces that motivate people to share experiences with others? Here we used a novel experience-sharing and decision-making paradigm to understand the value of shared experiences. In seven experiments across Studies 1 and 2, participants demonstrated a strong motivation to engage in shared experiences. At the same time, participants did not report a commensurate increase in hedonic value or emotional amplification, suggesting that the motivation to share experiences need not derive from their immediate hedonic value. In Study 3, participants reported their explicit beliefs about the reasons people engage in shared experiences: Participants reported being motivated by the desire to forge a social connection. Together, these findings suggest that the desire to share an experience may be distinct from the subjective experience of achieving that state. People may be so driven to connect with each other that social experiences remain valuable even in the most minimalistic contexts.
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