Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 19 January 2015

Facebook "likes" can tell more about your personality than your closest companions, a recent study shows -

Facebook "likes" can tell more about your personality than your closest companions, a recent study shows - 

The Facebook pages you "like" can give a more accurate analysis of your personality than the people closest to you, a study shows.

In a study at Cambridge University's Psychometrics Centre, 86,220 Facebook users completed a 100-item personality questionnaire that provided scores for traits including openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Researchers also accessed and analyzed pages users liked. The study showed certain likes equated to higher levels of particular traits. For example, if a user liked the artist Salvador Dali or the TED website, it is likely he or she is more "open." If a user liked pages about dancing, he or she would likely be more extroverted.

Then results of the personality questionnaire were compared with judgments of friends and family members using a shorter version of the test.

It turned out that software predicted personalities better than colleagues, friends, siblings and parents. Analyzing 10 likes, researchers were able to predict more accurately a person's personality than a work colleague could. With 70 likes, they provided better matches of the person's traits than friends. With 150 likes, they outperformed siblings and parents in outlining the person's character. With 300 likes, they were able to surpass spouses.

Given that the average person on Facebook has 227 pages they like, researchers concluded that the social networking site might give a better portrayal of a user's traits than the people closest to the person.

In addition to personality, the pages liked on Facebook enabled estimations of a user's age, relationship status, intelligence levels, life satisfaction, political and religious beliefs and education.

"In the future, computers could be able to infer our psychological traits and react accordingly, leading to the emergence of emotionally intelligent and socially skilled machines," said Wu Youyou, who conducted the study. 

"In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as "Her" seem to be within our reach."


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