The world is full of people telling us that “we are what we eat” or explaining why what we choose to fill our lives with is instrumental in determining how it turns out. There’s also a whole industry of pop-psychology helping us to analyse our various foibles or get under the skin of who we really are. Now, though, it seems that actually all that’s required to get a bit closer to the “real you” is a quick log-on to Facebook.
A study by the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Psychology called “Manifestations of Personality in Online Social Networks” has been delving into what Facebook can tell us about ourselves – or others. Earlier this month, Readwriteweb shared some of the study’s main findings, explaining the strong link between your real personality and the way you behave on Facebook.
Some might be inclined to say “so what?” After all, your Facebook account is run by you and so the fact that it’s an extension of your personality shouldn’t really be all that shocking. Others, meanwhile, might be less pleased to think that their online persona is so similar to what’s really lurking under the skin. Much has been written about the degree to which online networking helps people to “hide” behind computers, inventing personalities, so perhaps the news that the truth will out won’t actually be all that welcome.
The study looked at Facebook behaviour traits such as the number of friends and engagement levels and mapped them across to the Big Five personality factors: “O” for openness, “C” for conscientiousness, “E” for extroversion, “A” for agreeableness and “N” for neuroticism.
The table below shows how Facebook behaviours map across to your wider personality:
Whilst extroverts have the most friends and spend longer than others connecting via Facebook, conscientious people shied away from social networking- perhaps because they are too busy achieving and organising in real life to spend time in front of the computer?
Next, the study investigated how things like the number of photos you share are linked to your personality:
In summary, the researchers found that it’s relatively easy to pick out extroverts or people with a high openness score using their social behaviour on Facebook. Neuroticism was less easy to spot – which might be of some comfort to all those tortured souls who would prefer that the world didn’t share their inner angst – and, as alluded to above, conscientious people were conspicuous mostly by their absence. Their polar opposites – those low in conscientiousness – made up for it though, using Facebook as a handy vehicle for their favourite way to pass time – procrastinating.
What, you might say, does all this have to do with financial technology?
Well, mainly the fact that before too long financial organisations are likely to be using insights just like this to supplement credit scoring or find new leads. We’ve written before about insurance on Facebook or why digital technology will radically change financial services, but now Movenbank is about to make it a reality.
Check back for our post, coming soon, about the mobile bank in the pipeline that will use social data to choose and reward its customers.