TMI – Researchers find the risk of oversharing increases with age

Too much is too much, regardless of how you put it – especially in conversation. We’ve all fallen victim to it: A person who has the tendency to incessantly share everything, or anything, that he feels like, and we’ve probably said that we’re never going to be that person. However, a study from the University of Edinburgh and the Northwestern University in Illinois says that you may end up being just that, as the risk of oversharing in conversation increases as we grow older.

According to the study, oversharing in conversation, wherein a listener is provided with too many extraneous details, becomes more likely as we age. This is due to our thinking and response skills deteriorating over time. (Related: Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS): What it is and how it affects you.)

To test this, researchers used computerized listening and visual tests to evaluate thinking skills in a sample pool of 100 participants, aged 17 to 84 years old.

The experiment focused on the person’s attention span and how it plays a role in considering their partner’s perspective in conversation. This was done by tracking two sets of attention skills: inhibition, or the ability to focus and ignore distracting information; and switching, or the ability to shift focus between two different sounds to gather pertinent information.

Participants were then requested to describe one of at least four objects to their partner – who could only see three of the objects. During the experiment, researchers discovered that older participants often described the hidden object, which is irrelevant information to their partner.

Additionally, older adults were noted to have a decline in their attention-switching skills which was a factor on how they answered to their partner’s perspective. Younger adults were able to filter distracting information based on their ability to consider others’ perspectives.

Madeleine Long, the study’s lead researcher explained: “The study identified two attentional functions that influence whether we consider another’s point of view and how that changes as we age. This is particularly important for older adults who are more susceptible to revealing private information. We hope these findings can be used to design targeted training that helps older adults improve these skills and avoid embarrassing and potential risky communicative errors.”

Oversharing and the internet

With the advent of the internet, particularly social media, the method by which people interact has changed significantly from the last decade. These days, it isn’t so common for people and companies to connect using the internet.

However, too much of social media has some adverse effects. A study made by scientists at the DePaul University has reported that the “impulsive” act of checking social media can have some detrimental consequences, as well as indicate an imbalance between two systems in the brain.

Here are some recommended ways to make sure you’re not sharing too much information (TMI) on social media:

  • Try sharing moments with your friends in real life – These days when you can just post what happened in a snap, people can be prone to sharing a lot of things that other people don’t need to see. A rule of thumb is to only share information that you think your friends need to know.
  • Turn off location-based apps – Aside from being a security risk, some apps or locations post updates for you on social media pages.
  • Less is more — Cut back on your posting and your social media apps. You can choose a few and make it the best sites for you; aside from reducing oversharing, it keeps you focused on your tasks at hand.
  • Check your settings – Learn the privacy settings of your social media site. Not only does it inform you of what it actually does to your data, you can limit your posts to a specific group to prevent oversharing.

Sources include: 1 2

comments powered by Disqus