Science has just had a deep look at Facebook status posts, what this says about people and why some just talk about last night’s party, while others review the book they’ve just read.
In a study of 555 Facebook users, the researchers found that extraverts more frequently update about their social activities and everyday life.
These people are motivated to communicate and connect with others.
Narcissists, unsurprisingly, use Facebook for attention-seeking and validation. They like to update about their accomplishments, their diet and their exercise routine.
“Narcissists’ tendency to update about their accomplishments explained the greater number of likes and comments that they reported receiving to their updates,” the UK researchers write in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences.
People high in openness are more likely to talk about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information.
Those with low self-esteem are more likely to post about romantic partners and those high in conscientiousness are more likely to talk about their children.
“People with low self-esteem are more likely to see the advantages of self-disclosing on Facebook rather than in person,” the study authors say. “But because their status updates tend to express more negative and less positive affect, they tend to be perceived as less likeable.”
Those tending toward the neurotic use Facebook to seek the attention and social support which may be missing from their offline lives.
The researchers, from Brunel University in the UK, say the main limitation of the study is that it was self reported.
“Narcissists, in particular, may not accurately report the number of likes and comments they receive to updates,” the researchers say.
There’s also the problem of when likes are not true endorsements. “People may like and comment on a friend’s achievement-related updates to show support, but may secretly dislike such displays of hubris,” they say.
“Close friends may ‘like’ a friend’s update, even if they do not actually like it, whereas acquaintances might not only ignore such updates, but eventually unfriend the perpetrator of unlikeable status updates.”
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