Home Your Facebook Profile Isn’t Really “You”

Your Facebook Profile Isn’t Really “You”

A recent study at the University of Texas shows that you might not know your online friends quite as well as you think you do. The study, which utilized a Facebook getting-to-know-you type application, “You Just Get Me,” showed that the typical information posted on social networking sites, like favorite books, movies, and music, favorite quotes, majors, hometown, and other similar personal information, does not always give others an accurate impression of you.

Psychology professor Samuel Gosling and collaborator David Evans created the “You Just Get Me” Facebook application and web site, where users could answer forty questions about their personality and then compare their answers to how others view them. The users would rate each other based on these answers, letting their first impressions be their guide. People could be rated as anything from lazy to ingenious to quiet or rude or any of several other unique personality traits.

Surprisingly, answers to most of the basic type of questions, like those found on social networking sites, did not help users figure out what each other were “really” like. Instead, the researchers found that when a user posted things on their profile like their most embarrassing moment, proudest moment, or spirituality, their personalities were much better understood.

A Typical Facebook profile

Even by just posting a link to a funny online video, other people were better able to “get” the other person’s personality more accurately that by basic questions alone.

Gosling was drawn to this research because he believed that how one is perceived online is more important than ever these days since social networks are often where other people get their first impression of you. He also mentioned that your social networking profile could also impact your employment opportunities as savvy employers have learned to search out the online profiles of potential new hires.

The full details on the findings of this research project will be presented Monday at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Seattle.

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