How Facebook Likes Predict Personality

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The Psychometric Centre of the University of Cambridge has put up a website that will analyze your personality based on the heuristic you are what you like on Facebook.

The site works by cross-referencing FB likes from you and other likeminded individuals with other information from your profile like political/religious views, location, and hometown. What follows reveals novel information about fanbases that we have had some notions about (say, the differences between someone who reads VICE and someone that reads The Economist) but could not readily quantify without data.

Different Strokes

 

This data can be used to make inferences about multiple aspects of your personality, ranging from how introverted you are to how competitive you are compared to others.

According to a popular statistic from Fortune floating around the Internet this week, public Facebook likes can give more insight into your personality than even the people closest to you:

  • 10 public Facebook likes can say more about your personality than a co-worker knows;
  • 65, more than a roommate/friend;
  • 100, more than a family member, and
  • 300, more than a husband or wife.

Granted, the service isn’t 100% accurate, but given that the average Facebook user has liked 227 pages there’s still a wealth of information for marketers and researchers to draw reasonably representative personality profiles of their subjects.

Deeper motives such as IQ, life satisfaction, and political & religious views are also predictable using similar metrics, which means that this kind of data has the potential to break down advertising (and communication in general) into a more exact science.

Future Implications

Since attention has become such a valuable commodity for marketers, hopefully this broader access to data can result in ads that are more relevant to their target audience in these dimensions:

  • Better ad timing: ads could be scheduled around holidays, anniversaries, and life stages.
  • Better placement: Will the ad resound with the currently available audience?
  • More emotionally impactful: Is the audience funny, serious, or sappy?
  • Appropriate for each individual’s wants and needs: What do these people enjoy buying? What deep-running ideologies motivate them and why?

Beyond marketing, big data also has far-reaching implications fields like academia, census information, national security, and policymaking. Already, companies are looking at personality assessments based on Facebook likes and internet history for job hirings. Not only does it reveal what kind of worker you’re dealing with, but perhaps how well they’ll mesh with the rest of the team.

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I'm a Dallas-based copywriter, blogger, and content marketer paying close attention to the human side of Big Data.

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