New Study Unlocks Online Keys to Discovering Human Personality

Freud would have a field day on this one. University of Pennsylvania researchers who analyzed Facebook status updates of 75,000 volunteers have found a new way to analyze human personality. It could be yet another and more sophisticated tool for PR pros looking to get a better read on their audiences.

The study, which was published in PLUS One,  is gleaned from more than 700 million words, phrases and topics from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers.

With more than 700 million words, phrases and topics drilled out of this study’s sample of Facebook status messages, there was enough data to dig past the hundreds of common words and phrases and to find open-ended language that more meaningfully correlates with specific characteristics, the researchers said, in a statement.

An “open-vocabulary approach” of analyzing all words proved to be more predictive than traditional approaches such as questionnaires.

The researchers used the word clouds to generate new insights into relationships between words and traits. For example, participants who scored low on the neurotic scale (i.e., those with the most emotional stability) used a greater number of words that referred to active, social pursuits, such as “snowboarding,” “meeting” or “basketball.”

 Here is are some personality traits for "extraversion" (key at bottom).

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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