Did You Know....

What does your Facebook profile reveal about personality?


When you think about people's online identities, you might imagine that most people try to present an idealized version of their real selves. After all, in most online situations you get to pick and choose the information you want to reveal, the ability to design your own portrayal unlike ever before. You select the most attractive photos of yourself to post and you can edit and revise your comments before you make them. Surprisingly, one study discovered that Facebook profiles are actually quite good at conveying your real personality. The study from the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, entitled “Manifestations of Personality in Online Social Networks: Self-Reported Facebook-Related Behaviors and Observable Profile Information” is published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, and its findings are largely in contrast to much of the popular opinion that’s been expressed in recent years that people use Facebook to create an edited, shinier, more interesting version of themselves.

In the study, researchers looked at the online profiles of 236 U.S. college-aged individuals. The participants also filled out questionnaires designed to measure personality traits including extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. Observers then rated the personalities of the participants based on the online profiles, and these observations were compared to the results of the personality questionnaires. The researchers found that observers were able to get an accurate read on a person's personality based on their Facebook profile.

"I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways," explained psychologist and lead author Sam Gosling. "First, it allows profile owners to let others know who they are and, in doing so, satisfies a basic need to be known by others. Second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information they glean from online social network profiles, building their confidence in the system as a whole."

University of Texas at Austin (2009, December 1). Facebook profiles capture true personality, according to new psychology research. UT News. http://www.utexas.edu/news/2009/12/01/facebook_psychology/