Your online profile is your representation of who you are and what you do, your cyber calling card, often the first impression that others, including potential employers and clients have of you, but how accurate is it and what does it convey?
Gosling, Gaddis and Vazire, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin and Washington University studied the Facebook profiles of 133 subjects. Based on the profile each subject had written, the researchers attempted to predict how they would score on the ‘Big Five’ model of personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) and how accurate their Facebook profile actually was in describing their traits. The researcher’s predictions (along with an assessment of personality traits from close friends of the Facebook subject) were then compared with the subjects psychometric personality assessment (the Ten Item Personality Inventory, TIPI) yielding surprising results.
Even though the researchers found, as might be expected, that there had been some degree of enhancement or embellishment within some of the profiles, there was also a correlation between the researchers predictions and the personality assessment scores on 4 of the Big Five traits (with the exception of neuroticism).
With 20,000 new accounts created daily on Facebook alone, online social networking websites are becoming an increasingly popular form of interpersonal interaction. The initial research from Gosling, Gaddis and Vazire suggests that your assessment of what someone you’ve never met is like based on their profile alone might not be too far from the reality. The same is true of your own profile, people will make an assessment of who you are based on what you’ve told them and how you’ve said it. Consider the photograph you choose, the language you use and how you describe yourself and what you do. The next time someone skims over your profile, the chances are they’ll have a pretty good idea of the person behind it….and whether or not they want to connect with you.