Analysis of Facebook posts correlated with personality traits

19 Aug

Check the word cloud below.  What personality characteristics would you expect in people who use these with high frequency?


If you said that they are “characterized by traits such as being unintelligent, unanalytical, unreflective, uninquisitive, unimaginative, uncreative, and unsophisticated”, then you’ve probably already read the recent research from the World Well-Being Project or one of the recent articles about it (this one at The Atlantic is a good place to start if you’re interested).  For the tl;dr folks: the WWBP recruited volunteers, had them take personality tests, then collected their posts on Facebook.  They used language analysis to make word clouds from those posts parsed on various factors, including groupings from the personality tests.  The people whose posts formed the cloud above scored low on the “Openness to Experience” trait.

From a social science point of view, the first thing I noticed about the cloud above was the Tagalog, probably because I’ve met a lot of Pinoy while gaming.  That immediately made me wonder about the cross-cultural validity of the tests they’re using.  They recruited English-speaking participants but didn’t limit the research to English language posts. I’ve skimmed their paper and didn’t see any recognition of foreign words.  None of the other category clouds show this effect.  I think that, at least for the Openness trait, the research is questionable.

Otherwise, I find these marginally interesting with few surprises. There’s more swearing, violent, and negative language in posts from those who score low in Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. Well, of course. The prevalence of “anime” and “manga” in the Introversion word cloud makes me feel old, but since those are also common conversation topics in MMORPGs, where introverts can socialize more comfortably, I don’t find that surprising either.  The WWBP has a simple and quick page where you can view the various clouds by personality type.

This reminds me that I need to stop slacking on my own research project and get back to data collection, though. Language analysis will play a large role and it’s always useful to think critically about other research to improve my own.

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Health - Mental & Physical, Research


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