I know a few people who claim they maintain post fake information on Facebook because they are not comfortable with the service's various privacy issues. I would say all the Facebook friends whom I also regularly see in person, however, act fairly genuinely on the social network – their behavior on Facebook mirrors their behavior in real life. A recent study from the University of Texas at Austin's Psychology Department seems to confirm this observation.
The study, titled "Manifestations of personality in Online Social Networks: self-reported Facebook-related behaviors and observable profile information," was published in the academic journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (via ReadWriteWeb). Here's the abstract:
Despite the enormous popularity of Online Social Networking sites (OSNs; e.g., Facebook and Myspace), little research in psychology has been done on them. Two studies examining how personality is reflected in OSNs revealed several connections between the Big Five personality traits and self-reported Facebook-related behaviors and observable profile information. For example, extraversion predicted not only frequency of Facebook usage (Study 1), but also engagement in the site, with extraverts (vs. introverts) showing traces of higher levels of Facebook activity (Study 2). As in offline contexts, extraverts seek out virtual social engagement, which leaves behind a behavioral residue in the form of friends lists and picture postings. Results suggest that, rather than escaping from or compensating for their offline personality, OSN users appear to extend their offline personalities into the domains of OSNs.
If you're wondering, the Big Five personality traits are as follows: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Study subjects were also rated using the Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI).
In Study 1, researchers examined personality and self-reported Facebook-related behaviors. The study drew 159 psychology students from Washington University in St. Louis. 68 percent of participants were female and 32 percent were male.
Extroverted Facebook users reported the most friends and highest engagement levels. Conscientious users (characterized as disciplined, organized, and achievement-oriented) reported the least Facebook usage. Overall, extroverts tended to engage more than introverts.
In Study 2, researchers examined whether objectively assessed observable information on Facebook profiles could be associated with personality traits. The study drew 133 psychology students from the University of Texas at Austin. 61 percent of participants were female and 39 percent were male.
Extraversion was correlated with the total friend count. Extroverts were found to seek out more virtual social contact and were more engaged in online social experience than introverts.
In summary, the study found Facebook users behave online like they do offline. The service isn't so much its own little world, but rather an extension of the real world. This is certainly true for my Facebook experience; what about yours?
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