What Your Facebook Posts Say About You

· October 29, 2015

Why do some people post Facebook status updates about fun personal anecdotes, while others declare love for their partner, or express political opinions, or relate the details of last night’s dinner?

Since the start of Facebook in 2004, status updates have been one of its most utilized characteristics. Status updates permit users to share their thoughts, feelings, and activities with friends, who have the opportunity to “like,” share, and comment. But I imagine that you already knew this, so let’s get to the interesting stuff.

Despite the central role of status updates in the use of Facebook, few studies have examined patterns in the themes that people choose to post about. One study made a step in this direction by examining the personality features associated with the frequency of posts about these four main themes:

  1. Social activities and daily life
  2. Intellectual activities
  3. Achievements, diet, and exercise
  4. Significant relationships

The study also examined whether these correlations were mediated by some of the motives for using Facebook, such as: the need for validation (seeking attention and acceptance), self-expression (expressing personal opinions, stories, and complaints), communication (correspondence and connection), and sharing non-personal information (for example, current events).

Another purpose of the study was to examine whether people who post more frequently about certain themes receive a greater number of likes and comments on their posts.

Those who do receive many likes and comments enjoy the benefits of feeling social inclusionwhile those who don’t experience a lower sense of belonging and self-esteem.

Narcissistic posts

People who habitually post on their Facebook wall about their diets, exercise, and achievements are more likely to be narcissistic, according to the study. On the other hand, showing off achievements seems to attract more attention from our virtual “friends.”

For Facebook users, it seems narcissistic exposition is worth it, as they receive more likes and comments on their posts. However, the results of the study suggest that while our Facebook friends offer friendly support, they secretly have some aversion to such displays of self-centeredness.

More associations between personality and Facebook use

The study revealed more correlations between personality and Facebook use:

  • People who post about their romantic partner are more likely to have a lower self-esteem.
  • People who are more self-aware and who have children tend to post more about their children.
  • People who are extroverted post more frequently about their social activities and daily life.
  • People who are restless and eager to open up and communicate are more likely to post about intellectual themes.

I will end this article with two interesting points. First of all, advertising is increasingly focused not only on the pages we visit, but also the content that we post on social networks. What we share on social media offers useful insight for companies trying to reach potential customers.

Second of all, another pilot study suggests that in the future when someone passes away we’ll be able to continue communicating with them in some way thanks to the information that they’ve already shared. Thanks to certain algorithms, it is believed that this information can be utilized to create a computerized profile that communicates in a very similar manner to the deceased person. Can you imagine? What do you think about that possibility?