What Your Social Media Says About You

There’s no denying that it’s fun to speculate about the personality quirks of people who overshare their cat pictures on Facebook. Just as it is entertaining to ponder the reason some people post a million selfies a day, while others share only one. Though it’s all too easy to draw our own conclusions about the reasons people have for posting what they do, these conclusions have never actually been backed up by science, until now.

The Science Behind Your Posting Behavior

social mediaA new study published suggests that individuals with certain personality traits engage in specific patterns of behavior on social media. The results were gathered by examining the personality traits through the lens of The Big Five  personality model, which essentially helps gage an individual’s openness, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and extroversion.

In other words, the researchers looked at the motivating reasons individuals would post about these topics such as the need for validation, self-expression, communication, and sharing impersonal information. They also took the time to see if people who update more frequently get a greater number of “likes” and comments.

Using Facebook, the research team asked the study participants to self-report on their profile activity. But self-reporting tends to present a problem. Tara Marshall, first author on The Big Five, tells Rewire Me that “self-esteem and narcissism are predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates.”

Understanding Your Posting Behavior

Create-An-Instant-Calm-370Narcissistic individuals tend to be self-aggrandizing, vain, and exhibitionistic. They seek attention and admiration by boasting about their accomplishments and take particular care of their physical appearance. And “anxiously-attached individuals”—who tend to have low self-esteem—post more often about their romantic relationship to boost their self-worth and to refute others’ impressions that their relationship is poor.

Now that we can study the motivating factors individuals may have for posting what they do, but how can this information be applied? According to Marshall,

“This research has implications for people’s sense of social inclusion versus exclusion. If people wish to maintain their social network, and feel a sense of social inclusion by using Facebook, then this research may inform us as to what topics tend to be popular and what topics are better avoided. Some status update topics may be perceived as offensive or narcissistic, and the person who writes them may be perceived as dislikeable.”

The fact is what we put on our social media pages can reveal a lot about who we are. Yet understanding how our actions on social profiles are perceived by others can help us portray ourselves in a more positive light. The crazy cat lady may not be crazy after all.

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