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What your Facebook updates say about you – how you can spot a narcissist or neurotic just by reading their FB feed

How you update your Facebook status reveals a lot about your personality including the health of your self-esteem and whether you’re a narcissist or a neurotic

In a new study at Brunel University, researchers analysed 555 online surveys completed by Facebook users. The surveys focused on the Big Five personality traits: extroversion, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness as well as self-esteem and narcissism. The scientists indeed found users tended to post updates in line with their personality traits.

users’ personalities were a strong predictor of what they would post


They found users high in neuroticism sought the validation from others that they can’t find offline, said the study’s authors. When they receive more likes and comments they tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracised.

Extroverts take advantage of Facebook as a tool for social engagement and create statuses about social activities.  They are less motivated by ‘likes’ and more motivated by interaction with others.

users high in neuroticism sought the validation from others that they can’t find offline

Brunel University London’s Dr. Tara Marshall spoke about the study’s significance: ‘It might come as little surprise that Facebook status updates reflect people’s personality traits. However, it is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook…’

Here’s a fascinating look at the results:

Posts mainly about: achievements, diet, and exercise

Personality: A narcissist

Narcissists update about their achievements, diet, and exercise. Narcissists seek attention and validation measured through a high number of ‘likes’. Updates about achievements receive the most ‘likes’, encouraging this personality type to write achievement themed posts, said the researchers.

Posts mainly about: political beliefs and intellectual topics

Personality: Open, curious and creative

Those measuring high in openness (creative, curious types) post about political beliefs and intellectual topics. They seek less social interaction and more information sharing, motives conducive to sharing impersonal information, such as current events and research.

Posts: not very often – occasionally about their kids

Personality: Conscientious

Conscientious users post infrequently and are more aware of how others receive their content.  When they do post, it is most often about their children.

Posts mostly about: Their romantic partners

Personality: low self-esteem

Participants with low self-esteem post frequently about their romantic partners. It is suggested their motivations are to quell insecurities and demonstrate to others that their relationship is doing well. These posts receive less ‘likes’ and make the users seem less likable.

it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays.

Overall the study found users’ personalities were a strong predictor of what they would post.  They also suggested further studies should be done on how Facebook friends react to these updates both in real life and online.

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