Do our Facebook posts reflect our true personalities? Incrementally, probably not. But in aggregate, the things we say on social media paint a fairly accurate portrait of our inner selves. A team of University of Pennsylvania scientists is using Facebook status updates to find commonalities in the words used by different ages, genders, and even psyches.
The so-called “World Well-Being Project” started as an effort to gauge happiness across various states and communities.
For the studies, Schwartz and his co-authors asked people to download a Facebook app called “My Personality.” The app asks users to take a personality test and indicate their age and gender, and then it tracks their Facebook updates. So far, 75,000 people have participated in the experiment.
In the six studies they’ve published so far, they’ve found that, for example, introverts make heavy use of emoticons and words related to anime, but extroverts say “party,” “baby,” and “ya.”
In one of the first studies, the team correlated past Gallup research on life satisfaction with tweets from various counties.
Happy communities, they found, talk about exercise—fitness, Zumba, and the gym—while the sadder ones felt “bored” or “tired.”
*Image of “kid” via Shutterstock