Facebook can be used to predict academic success, job performance

Summary:A new study has found that your Facebook profile can be used to predict your academic success if you're a college student and your job performance if you're in the workforce.

Your Facebook profile holds more valuable information about you than you might think. Researchers spent about 10 minutes looking at photos, wall posts, comments, education, and hobbies on Facebook profiles, while answering personality-related questions including whether the subject was dependable and whether he or she was emotionally stable. After six months, they compared their results with those submitted by the subjects' supervisors. This was enough for them to provide initial evidence that information available on Facebook can be used to identify individuals who are more successful in college and on the job.

Peter A. Rosen, associate professor of management information systems in the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration at the University of Evansville, teamed up with co-authors Donald H. Kluemper of the Department of Management at Northern Illinois University and Kevin W. Mossholder in the Department of Management at Auburn University. The trio published a 30-page study titled "Social networking websites, personality ratings, and the organizational context: More than meets the eye?" (PDF) in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Here's the abstract:

We examined the psychometric properties of the Big Five personality traits assessed through social networking profiles in 2 studies consisting of 274 and 244 social networking website (SNW) users. First, SNW ratings demonstrated sufficient interrater reliability and internal consistency. Second, ratings via SNWs demonstrated convergent validity with self-ratings of the Big Five traits. Third, SNW ratings correlated with job performance, hirability, and academic performance criteria; and the magnitude of these correlations was generally larger than for self-ratings. Finally, SNW ratings accounted for significant variance in the criterion measures beyond self-ratings of personality and cognitive ability. We suggest that SNWs may provide useful information for potential use in organizational research and practice, taking into consideration various legal and ethical issues.

Study 1 included 274 Facebook users. The results showed that Facebook-rated personality:

  1. Correlates with traditional self-reported personality.
  2. Demonstrates internal consistency and inter-rater reliability for personality and hirability.
  3. Correlates with evaluator preferences to hire the Facebook user.
  4. Correlates with supervisor ratings of job performance for a sub-sample of Facebook users who were employed.

Study 2 included 244 college students. The results showed that Facebook-rated personality:

  1. Correlates with traditional self-reported personality tests.
  2. Demonstrates internal consistency and inter-rater reliability.
  3. Is stronger than self-reported personality and IQ in predicting academic success.
  4. Provides incremental prediction of academic performance beyond what was obtained from self-rated personality and intelligence tests combined.

"A rapid expansion of social media over the past decade has resulted in the use of social networking websites beyond their initial purpose," Rosen said in a statement. "University administrators and hiring managers have begun to view this technology to evaluate students and employees, despite controversial legal issues associated with this practice. Our research provides evidence from two studies that Facebook can be used by trained evaluators to reliably assess various personality traits, traits shown in existing literature to predict academic and job success and to be legally defensible for selection purposes. Although further study is needed, perhaps when viewing applicant social networking profiles, there is more to it than meets the eye."

Last month, a different study found that your Facebook personality is genuine. Although some may find this a bit worrying, I guess it makes sense that it can be used to predict your academic success and/or job performance.

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Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, IT Employment

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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