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The Internet Science

Your Online Profile Actually Tells a Lot About You 272

Posted by timothy
from the explains-my-dating-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite all the media reports that your Facebook profile is giving the wrong impression, a psychological study shows people really can understand your personality from your online profile. Turns out you're not giving the wrong impression with your profile; you're giving the right impression to the wrong people. You can actually learn more about someone's Agreeableness from their online profile than from a first date."
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Your Online Profile Actually Tells a Lot About You

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  • Duh (Score:2, Funny)

    by philspear (1142299)

    The findings, in a nutshell, are:
    People get each other
    SNW profile owners are generally seen by others as they see themselves (i.e. impression agreement was substantial)
    People on Facebook get each other
    Impression agreement was associated with context (agreement was stronger on the basis of Facebook profiles than on YouJustGetMe profiles)
    Women are better guessers and easier to guess than men (random assignment)
    within the context in which raters were judging unknown targets (i.e., YouJustGetMe profiles), women

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by story645 (1278106) * <story645@gmail.com> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:59PM (#23995509) Journal

      The only remotely suprising thing was that women were both easier to understand and understood people better through profiles.

      For me it isn't, but maybe just 'cause I'm a girl who's spent far too much time in heavily female online communities. I think it's just an extension of how people work in the real world; women, just by generally being more communicative (not being sexist so much as that's what most studies find), drop more hints, and probably 'cause they drop so many know what to look for.

      • by Joebert (946227)

        women, just by generally being more communicative, drop more hints

        I knew all of those years of playing Final Fantasy would pay off one day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      Assuming as I do that astrology is crap.

      You're probably a Sagittarius like me. We all think astrology is crap.

  • by RLiegh (247921) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:49PM (#23995405) Homepage Journal

    you were being completely honest. I know that I certainly would never think to put a fake age, fake name or fake job when I fill out a profile online. ...nosireebub.

    • by Perseid (660451) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:52PM (#23995433)
      It also assumes that you put a decent amount of effort into it. What does a sparse profile say about me? That I'm lazy? That I don't really care about MySpace? Who knows?
      • by Narpak (961733) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:51PM (#23995935)
        Or maybe that you actually cared about your security and the concept of identity theft. Or maybe you just prefer meeting gurls in real life, as opposed to some vague flirtation online that could easily have been with someone lying about their details.

        Or maybe you are just way to busy spamming slashdot and raiding Sunwell (or whining on the AoC forums) to care about some stupid MySpace/Facebook page.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Scrameustache (459504)
          prefer meeting gurls in real life, as opposed to some vague flirtation online that could easily have been with someone lying about their details

          Speaking of details, you think that's her real hair color? That her skin really looks like that? That she's that height? Those are her real nails? That she's acting interested because she likes you, not your wallet?

          Boy, you're gonna get burned.

    • The fake answers are just as interesting in some ways. When I see a fave album list that looks too carefully constructed (that perfect mix of obscure and popular, with those two horrible but the entire planet loves songs) that tells me as much about the person as an honest list would.

      • by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:49PM (#23995917) Journal
        what if i actually like obscure and popular music, and have bad taste, you insentitive clod!
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by story645 (1278106) *

          You're my soul mate? I like the pretentious stuff everyone says they like but nobody really does, the popular stuff nobody wants to admit to liking, and everything in between. (Well with respect to movies more so than music.) I figure most people are like that. It's all in that mix and the stuff you choose to highlight.

          • Nope. Most people, in my experience, genuinely like the 10 generic songs they hear on their favorite pop radio station. They might also like other stuff, but they won't like it any more no matter how good it is, so what's the point?
            • by story645 (1278106) *

              What's the nope in response too? I'm sort of failing to see where we disagree. I agree with you that quality doesn't impact taste in the least, but I've seen a lot of online profiles that don't want to admit that. (It tends to be a certain type of people who have those profiles, which is why they're important even while being untrue, but still.)

      • So what you're saying is that it's bad taste to have too good of taste in a given subject?

        And it's times like these that I feel totally lost and confused in this world.
    • That is why on the NYT registration page I am a 16 year old female attorney from Afghanistan named Osama Bin Laden. Honest!

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:41AM (#23996633)

      That's pretty much it. I spent a great deal of my time creating fake information about me that makes me look favorable for possible employers. According to the bits and pieces you find about me online when you enter my name in a search engine I'm an accomplished freelancing game creator, writing articles for a local newspaper, who spends his spare time as a volunteer with the fire brigade, and so on.

      Actually, I have written a few games but hardly anything to write about, never wrote for a paper (I was doing computer maintainence for them, which must have somehow made me an editor...) and the last time I saw a fire department from the inside was in my youth (I'm just still on their roster, despite me moving away from there about 15 years ago).

      Let's be honest here, employers assume that you lie on your CV. So they start looking for other sources of information about you, the the easiest is to run your name through Google (provided you're not John Smith or similar). That they're actually using it can be seen in my mailbox.

      • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:38AM (#23999397) Journal

        According to the bits and pieces you find about me online when you enter my name in a search engine I'm an accomplished freelancing game creator, writing articles for a local newspaper, who spends his spare time as a volunteer with the fire brigade, and so on.

        Plug my name into Google and of the at least half dozen people in North America with the same name as me, a semi-famous comedian fro Colorado fills the first several pages of hits. Once on slashdot I made this same point, and one poster, sure he had found my true identity, posted the address and phone number of some poor schmuck from Canada who had the same name as me.

        Anyone who uses Google to find out about a prospective employee is incredibly stupid, and there's no way I would work for a fucktard like that. I mean, who wants to be unemployed in only six months when the firm goes bankrupt after having your blood pressure raised daily by an idiot who is dumb enough to think they can find you using the internet?

        -mcgrew

    • Maybe not (Score:2, Informative)

      by Deaddy (1090107)
      According to the article that doesn't really matter, since the most useful profile elements were:
      • A link to funny video
      • What makes me glad to be alive?
      • Most embarrassing thing I ever did
      • Proudest thing I ever did
      • My spirituality
      • A great person
      • I believe this

      I think most people would give out information like this, even or especially when they use fake names and birthdays.

  • by eharvill (991859) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:52PM (#23995439)
    People post too much crap about themselves online. Facebook has some decent "security" features about whom can see their profiles, but people tend leave the option checked "anyone in my network" can see my profile without realizing the ramifications. Anyway, yeah, does the FA really surprise anyone???
    • by TheLink (130905) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:08AM (#23997851) Journal
      "people tend leave the option checked "anyone in my network" can see my profile without realizing the ramifications"

      Right and the peacock unfurls its huge tail without realizing the full ramifications either.

      A lot of animals do silly or risky stuff to try to show off to potential mates.

      The people using facebook, myspace etc are no different.

      If some grey suit doesn't hire some girl just because she or someone posted a pic of her half naked and drunk on facebook, despite her proven skills in the line of work, she's probably better off working elsewhere.

      Other bosses might just hire people who'd make their company a more fun place to be in.

      Now if you see that person has a big problem with alcohol (there might be other clues or signs) then sure don't hire.
  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:52PM (#23995445)
    It says you're the kind of person that has a Facebook profile.
    • I only found out that Mandy was male when I tried to grope her.
      • by forkazoo (138186)

        I only found out that Mandy was male when I tried to grope her.

        You should have payed attention to the fact that "Lola" was listed as her favorite song in her profile, (and read her blog post about anally raping unsuspecting men).

    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:12PM (#23995607)

      It says you're the kind of person that has a Facebook profile.

      and thereby, most surely, are a target market.

  • by Phurge (1112105)
    TFA is pretty lightweight in its scope. Attempting to generalise about all online profiles is a big call. I will say however, that my facebook profile is pretty accurate - the big difference being that my facebook friends are my actual real life friends, so I can't create a new alter-ego because my friends will call BS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Phurge (1112105)
      to clarify my post - the difference with facebook is that you have to use your real name - which then has implications as to the types of people you make friends with (ie people who you know in real life). As to all the other online sites (flickr, last.fm, /., etc) my experience is that I might post up stuff relevant to that site, nothing more. If you're on myspace, well that probably does say something about you....
      • > to clarify my post - the difference with facebook is that you have to use your real name

        Just as a matter of idle curiousity, how do they know your real name?

        • by AnyoneEB (574727) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @11:48PM (#23996319)
          They don't. You can lie. There are a quite a few Facebook profiles for fictional characters. I know a few people who only list their first name and last initial. But that's not the point. If you have a Facebook profile it is because you want people to be able to find it and contact you. Lying about your name would just be pointless, especially if you are signed up on a college network which will list your .edu e-mail address which could be easily looked up in a directory anyway. I have no problem with pesudo-anonymous social networking, but that is not what Facebook is for.
      • by Cyvros (962269) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:52PM (#23995951)
        Ah, but you don't actually need to use your real name - just a given name and a surname. As an example, I used to call myself "Devoc Winter" before I deleted my account. Nothing whatsoever like my real name, so some of my real life friends did call BS at first, but quite a few of them don't use their real names either.

        As you said, though, it does come down to whom you befriend on Facebook - your real life friends, your online friends or a combination.
  • I set up a profile at classmates.com, but it really just contains a "puzzle encrypted" email address and a picture (not of me) from hotchickswithdouchebags.com [hotchicksw...hebags.com] to add a little je ne sais quoi.

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:15PM (#23995639)

    It's really surprising just how much we disconnect ourselves from our many social inhibitions when communicating over the internet versus when we're actually interacting with others in public, even when we're fully aware that the internet is far less private than physically going outside to any real-world, public location. On a sub-conscious level, mere text on a screen is somehow far less threatening to us than seeing another person or hearing their voice, even though the opposite is probably more true. (Likely due to the lengthy delay in reaction to our own actions, in addition to severely limited feedback accompanying those reactions.)

    Perhaps if we retired text communications in favor of real-time teleconferencing, where you actually have to see who you're talking to, you'd see people become a lot more careful about what they say and do on the internet from day to day.

  • by i love pineapples (742841) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:17PM (#23995651) Homepage
    So you've figured out from my facebook page that I'm an antisocial loser with no social skills. HOLY CRAP; are you some sort of detective?
    • by RuBLed (995686) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:29PM (#23995751)
      I also found out that you seem to like this particular tropical fruit/berry.
    • by Dwedit (232252)

      Quit misusing the word "Antisocial". Antisocial means you're a psychotic criminal who harms people or goes against society. The word you want is "Asocial".

      • by BobNET (119675)

        Antisocial means you're a psychotic criminal who harms people or goes against society. The word you want is "Asocial".

        Who says Facebook users can't be both?

      • by story645 (1278106) *

        Uh, I think you may be messing up subset with equality.
        So notation: If a(b) then b is a subset of a:
        anti-social(anti-social personality(sociopath(psychopath)))

        Some people who are anti-social have anti-social personality disorder, but the average delinquent is anti-social and may very well not have a disorder. A sociopath is someone who has anti-social personality disorder, but not all sociopaths are psychopaths. Some of 'em are very successful business men. The psychotic who harms people or goes against soc

    • by Noland150 (847733) * on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:40PM (#23995821)

      So you've figured out from my facebook page that I'm an antisocial loser with no social skills.

      It was only a hunch until you posted on Slashdot as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pclminion (145572)

      HOLY CRAP; are you some sort of detective?

      DUH... That's what my profile says, isn't it?

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That's funny. I don't even have a Facebook profile. It's a rather lame thing to have. I prefer to do my 'social networking' in the real world.

  • I bet these guys believe in the MMPI, too.

  • by Repton (60818) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @10:46PM (#23995865) Homepage

    An analysis of your posting history shows too many "Informative" mods and not enough "Funny". I'm looking for someone a little less serious-minded, someone who's not afraid to risk a "Troll" mod in the spirit of adventure.

  • I should remove the bloodninja [bash.org] quotes from my facebook profile. No wonder I don't get any dates :'(

  • I made up the whole Orion Blastar space pirate ninja from 4096AD profile to use to be anonymous on the Internet and not allow anyone to learn anything about me, long ago.

    If you think I am really Orion Blastar, I got the Brooklyn bridge to sell you really cheap. Because you are the most gullible person alive if you actually think my online profiles are true and not fiction.

  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @11:55PM (#23996353) Homepage Journal

    Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.

    • Ill shoot.

      I find power and intelligence sexually attractive. Looks are second, third would be money. My current gf is quiet and reserved, yet has a powerful seductive evil streak. That's something I encourage her to bring out more.

      So, what's my philosophy on life?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @03:08AM (#23997283)

        I'll bite: You are a pasty teenage boy with an unconscious sexual desire for your mother.

        You desire a lower slashdot id because you believe that will give you more status, but you haven't one because you spend your time posting to male dominated, english language forums and surfing porn.
         
        Your philosophy on life is a cross between an advertisement for a breakfast cereal and a science fiction space opera.
         
        You believe trolls are a higher form of evolution. ;)

  • Summary incorrect. (Score:5, Informative)

    by kklein (900361) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:09AM (#23996441)

    This paper is not about Facebook. It's about a Facebook personality-assessment app ("YouJustGetMe") that allows people to do a personality self-assessment, then create a profile with the app based on likes and dislikes. This "YouJustGetMe" profile would then appear on the user's Facebook profile.

    So the research question is not "Can people assess others' personalities based on their Facebook profiles," but, rather, "Can people assess others' personalities based on their own assessments of their own personalities," a very different thing. It then looked for interrater agreement between the writer of the profile and the viewer of the profile.

    This is a salient point because what is revealed in a real Facebook profile is very little, and can actually be nothing (like mine--I just use it to keep tabs on my friends strewn around the world who use it). It's totally uncontrolled. The researchers addressed this by placing much tighter controls on the profile creation, limiting it to personality-specific items.

    The research is still interesting, but not as interesting as the Slashdot summary makes it sound. It does, however, seem to have some major selection flaws (not a random sample), but I can't seem to load the paper to check on that.

    • by kklein (900361) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:51AM (#23996695)

      Finally got the paper to download. It's interesting, and was obviously a very serious study that required a lot of work. Good on them for that.

      But the mean interrater correlation is 0.41, meaning that it only explains about 17% of the shared variance. This looks to me like another psych study that mistakes statistical significance for practical significance.

      To put it another way, there was really only an average of 17% agreement between rater and writer in their assessments. What this study finds is that judging people based on their profile, while not completely useless, isn't very useful.

      To put it another way... It's basically just as you would assume: You can get an idea of what someone is like based on what they present about themselves, but the picture is going to be far from complete.

      So, let's rename this Slashdot article correctly: "Your Online Profile Actually Tells a Little About You!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syousef (465911)

        To put it another way... It's basically just as you would assume: You can get an idea of what someone is like based on what they present about themselves, but the picture is going to be far from complete.

        Ahhhh psych studies. Using statistics to prove the bleeding obvious, and earning a living at it. Where do I sign up?

  • Lies... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sitarlo (792966)
    I don't think these psychologists have read the chapter on how people lie about everything they put online. The only thing you can get from a Facebook profile is that the person is lame enough to *have* a facebook profile.
  • Yuhhuh (Score:5, Funny)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@@@mqduck...net> on Monday June 30, 2008 @04:32AM (#23997679)

    You can actually learn more about someone's Agreeableness from their online profile than from a first date.

    A statement only Slashdot readers could believe.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday June 30, 2008 @04:33AM (#23997681)

    All chickens are taken to slaughter, but they still have to spend their chicken-energy.

    Facebook is a great big behavioral data collection engine which is perfectly suited for the monitoring and control of millions. Is it used this way? I don't know. I suspect there is far more data gleaned from our collective lifetimes spent traveling through the education and medical systems, and in adulthood, through the banking systems, than is collected from facebook. --And those other systems are either run directly by the government or are tightly intertwined with government, whereas Facebook is still somewhat private. Though I can certainly see how something like Facebook sheds light into areas which those previously mentioned systems have a harder time quantifying, namely your associations with other people. (Though, that kind of thing is not invisible; there are phone records and email records; Facebook just kind of collects it all with a nice GUI for the MIB's.)

    However. . , it's still a system which binds friends and communities together. Much like the phone system. --You're not going to stop using the phone to call your parents or friends just because you KNOW the government is recording everything in paranoid anxiety.

    Yeah, humans are hopelessly manipulable, perfect candidates for conquest, domination and liquidation on a whim. Be we still have to fall in love and make friends and exchange ideas. Even this post right now is easily traceable to yours truly, I have no doubt whatsoever. But am I going to stop living because there are monsters in our midst? Hmm. Nope. It's sort of a race to the finish line using the same track; we can share information and build strong ties as a community which can prepare and help prevent attack, and while we do this, the enemy learns all the clever ways it can attack by secretly watching as we form our communities. Who will win?

    Not sure what the answer is, but the people I've seen who spend their days clinging to anger at the unfairness of it all tend to make themselves sick and miserable and don't generally DO anything productive with their knowledge. There are other ways, and communication is a vital part of it. And so is awareness. Knowing that Facebook makes you naked is important. What you choose to do after that is up to you.


    -FL

  • In Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:51AM (#23999567)

    In summary for Slashdot users your profile can either:

    1) Tell that you are a Karma whore
    2) Tell that you are always baiting to be flamed
    3) You actually have good Karma
    4) Never take anything seriously if everything is modded +5 Funny
    5) Are way too serious and boring if everything is +5 Interesting
    6) You ask too many questions if +5 interesting
    7) Show you take too much pride in being the first at anything (first post or low UID)
    8) Have too much spare time if you post on Slashdot!
    9) If you link to Goatse you have a very troubled mind
    10) Take advantage of others if you post an article on your website for ad-revenue
    11) Fail to recognize patterns for posting dupe articles
    12) Are greedy if you always post .... 1) .... 2) .... 3) .... 4) ???? .... 5) Profit!
    13) You are Cowboy Neal. ( I think this was obligatory :) )

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