Mind

How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticNov 15, 2014 5:28 PM

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The words you use in your Facebook posts reveal much about your personality, according to psychologists Gregory Park and colleagues in a new study just published. Based on a study of 71,000 Facebook users who reported their personality using an app, Park et al. found some quite unexpected words to be associated with given personality traits. Here are the word clouds showing which terms are most predictive of extroversion and introversion:

Extroverts tend to use words like love, tonight, party, excited and amazing. Several length variants of the word soooo and 'text speak' terms like lovin and ur, are more often found on extroverts' updates. In general the extrovert word cloud is sloppy enough to make any 'Grammar Nazi' red in the face. When we come to introverts, use of the word computer was one of the biggest giveaways. Posting status updates about Internet, and to a lesser extent anime, doctor who, and books, were also predictive of introversion. Even the style of emoticons people use was associated with personality. Extroverts prefer ':)' and ';)' but introverts are more apt to express themselves with o_o and XD. Finally, it's noticeable that the introvert word cloud contains a large number of 'not' phrases such as won't, I don't, isn't, and doesn't. Could this mean that introverts see life in more negative terms, and this comes across in their updates? However I wonder if the explanation might be that introverts are just more likely to bother to include the apostrophe when they write such phrases, given that other apostrophe words - it's, i've - are also found in the introverted cloud. Based on these findings, I thought I'd try to create the most extroverted status in the world: amazing party tonight :), im sooooo excited with my girls. its gonna be love! u come? While the most introverted update ever might be... I shouldn't read internet o.o, but apparently Doctor Who anime won't be finished? Evil computer! Seriously though, Park et al.'s findings are impressive. They found correlations between the update-based estimates of personality, and self-reported personality, with a Pearson r of 0.38 across the Big Five "OCEAN" personality traits - Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. This is a moderate level of agreement, but given that two separate self-report questionnaires of the same trait generally only correlate with a correlation coefficient r of 0.6 to 0.8, it's far from trivial. Furthermore, the Facebook update personality estimates were also significantly correlated with informant reports of personality (a questionnaire filled out by someone who knows you). This is important as it goes beyond mere self-report. The full paper is well worth a read and it includes word clouds for the other four OCEAN personality traits, not just extroversion. Some of these feature a lot of profanity, funnily enough, but here's the neuroticism cloud, which is pretty safe:

Park G, Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Kosinski M, Stillwell DJ, Ungar LH, & Seligman ME (2014). Automatic Personality Assessment Through Social Media Language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology PMID: 25365036

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