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Psychologists use social networking behavior to predict personality type

Psychologists use social networking behavior to predict personality type

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A research team from the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing has designed a method that uses social networking behavior to predict personality types.

The ability to automatically determine a personality type could change the way social networks target services to users, the Technology Review reports.

One of the foundations of modern psychology is that human personality can be described in terms of five different forms of behavior:

1. Agreeableness--being helpful, cooperative and sympathetic toward others.

2. Conscientiousness--being disciplined, organized and achievement-oriented.

3. Extraversion--having a higher degree of sociability, assertiveness and talkativeness.

4. Neuroticism--the degree of emotional stability, impulse control and anxiety.

5. Openness--having a strong intellectual curiosity and a preference for novelty and variety.

Psychologists have spent years trying to develop a test that can classify people according to these criteria, and a couple of students of the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have developed an online method based on these five terms. In their research, they applied their method to Facebook and Renren, a Chinese competitor of Facebook, and asked 200 chinese students to participate.

The researchers analyzed various aspects of the content-- such as the frequency and emotional value of their blog posts --and used a number of mathematical techniques to reveal any correlations between the results of the personality tests and online behavior.

The team discovered that online behaviors are good indicators to determine personality types and that they can automatically predict a type by analyzing an individual's social network statistics.

Shuotian Bai, one of the lead authors, said that this could be useful for social networks and that these networks might use the method to recommend specific services and improve the recommendation system. Further, she also said that the networks could get commercial gain by targeting specific adverts to users, but worry that the techniques will be used to target vulnerable individuals.

Ethics aside, Bai said that they are aware of how people's response to online psychological studies can differ from more traditional types of psychological studies, which they are taking into consideration for further research.

[Via Technological Review]

Photo courtesy by Technological Review

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Ina Muri

Weekend Editor

Weekend Editor Ina Damm Muri is a multimedia journalist based in New York. Previously, she worked at Aspen Magazine, CBS4 Denver and the Daily Camera in Boulder. She holds two degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure