You should judge Facebook users by their profiles, says study

Ever looked at a friend of a friend’s Facebook profile, made a snap judgement about them, and then felt guilty because you can’t really tell what someone’s like without actually interacting with them? Well, it turns out you were right the first time. Researchers from the University of Kansas have found that looking at someone’s Facebook profile gives you an accurate insight into their personality.

They surveyed 100 Facebook users from diverse backgrounds about their personalities, then asked 35 other people to spend 10-15 minutes on the first group’s Facebook profiles to see if they could tell what kind of people they were. They found that the judgements strangers made matched how people saw themselves. (Although of course, there’s no way to know how honest they were about who they really are, either in the survey or online…)

Some characteristics were more easy to spot than others, including extroversion, agreeableness and openness. But conscientiousness was harder to detect and apparently neuroticism couldn’t be gauged. So… that means you can be as neurotic as you like and no one on social media will ever be able to tell? That’s excellent news (um, I imagine people like that would think).

The study will be published later this month in the journal New Media & Society but as the researchers point out, Facebook has changed since they collected their data back in 2011. The fact that the news feed is no longer arranged in chronological order and that we can now choose who sees our updates (as well as the fact that not all updates are given equal prominence, and some may soon be disappearing) means that it may be harder than it was previously to judge people based on how they seem on Facebook. Which may be a sign that we should try talking to them IRL instead. But probably not.

Image via Pixabay.

Want to read more? Here’s our coverage of the recent Apple announcements, including everything you need to know about Apple’s ‘phablet’, the iPhone 6 Plus, and smartwatches buying guide, or if you’re sick of Apple completely, here’s our rundown of our 14 favourite dating apps, from Tinder to eHarmony.

Diane Shipley

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