Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Can Facebook ‘Likes’ Predict Personal Traits?

Cambridge University recently conducted research which suggests that what you ‘like’ on Facebook could be a good indicator of personality. A recent BBC article on the research says :

The study used 58,000 volunteers who alongside their Facebook ‘likes’ and demographic information also provided psychometric testing results – designed to highlight personality traits.

The Facebook likes were fed into algorithms and matched with the information from the personality tests.

The algorithms proved 88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate in distinguishing African-American from Caucasian-American and 85% for differentiating Republican from Democrat.

Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82% of cases and relationship status and substance abuse was predicted with an accuracy between 65% and 73%…

…It also threw some strange pairings. “Curly fries correlated with high intelligence and people who liked the Dark Knight tended to have fewer Facebook friends,” said research author David Stillwell.

To me this makes obvious sense, after all you are only going to want to ‘like’ the things which interested you and have something to do with your life, right? But it seems to be more complex than that. The research suggests that what you like doesn’t have to be explicit (i.e. a Christian liking church groups or gospel singers) to be a determinant of personality. Isn’t it so interesting that even the things we may find as non-relevant hobbies or likes are actually attributes of our larger picture?

The article finishes by suggesting the duality of making ourselves so public. On one hand we like what we like and can see it online on a daily basis, but since this information can at times be made public (and now seems to portray our personal traits easily when all else is hidden) it could be used against us for marketing or worse.

Written by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer

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