Facebook ‘likes’ Reveal Personality Traits

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
March 12, 2013 Updated: May 31, 2013



The next time you click “like” on Facebook, remember you’re revealing a trait in your personality. More of them “likes”, and analytics will be able to draw an astonishingly accurate picture of your life. 

Researchers at Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, in collaboration with Microsoft, analyzed a dataset of over 58,000 US Facebook users, who volunteered their “likes”, demographic profiles and psychometric testing results through the myPersonality app and “youarewhatyoulike” website.

“The main message of the paper is that whether they like it or not, people do communicate their individual traits in their online behavior,” said lead author Michal Kosinski.

Kosinski and his colleagues conducted their experiment through their website over the course of several years. The survey was taken by more than 8 million people who gave their personal details and answered questions about personality traits. A part of the surveys were then matched with their Facebook likes.

The results were analyzed to produce correlations in openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and emotional stability. The other categories included IQ, religion, politics, sexual orientation, age, gender, race, relationship status, alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, life satisfaction, number of friends — and even whether the parents had separated by the user’s age of 21.

The model was most accurate at predicting whether the user was male or female (93%), sex of user (93%), African American or Caucasian (95%), sexual orientation (88%), political beliefs (85%), Christian or Muslim (82%), age (75%), smoked cigarettes (73%), intelligence according to an IQ test (40%), extrovert or introvert (43%) and whether the user’s parents had split up by the time he or she was 21 (60%).

The level of predictive power could be “worthwhile for advertisers,” the researchers said. “For instance, digital systems and devices (such as online stores or cars) could be designed to adjust their behavior to best fit each user’s preferred profile,” they wrote.

The data analyzed could be from anyone and used to sell products or services. The fear of identities stolen or misused is prevalent. “Consumers rightly expect strong privacy protection to be built into the products and services they use, and this research may well serve as a reminder for consumers to take a careful approach to sharing information online, utilizing privacy controls and never sharing content with unfamiliar parties,” said Thore Graepel of Microsoft Research, a partner in the research said in the press release from Cambridge.

“I have used Facebook since 2005, and I will continue to do so,” Stillwell, one of the researchers, said. “But I might be more careful to use the privacy settings that Facebook provides.”

Some interesting correlations:

People with high IQs mostly “like”: The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird

Satisfied with life “like”: Sarah Palin, Being Conservative

Shy and Reserved “like”: Manga, Anime, Voltaire

Neurotic people “like”: The Addams Family, Girl Interrupted

For more interesting correlations, visit here.


The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.