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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 because their updates may be differentially rewarded with alikes' and comments,' said psychology lecturer Tara Marshall from Brunel University in Britain in a statement. People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion whereas those who receive none feel ostracised.
For the study, the team surveyed Facebook users to examine the personality traits and motives that influence the topics they choose to write about in their status updates. The data was collected from 555 Facebook users who completed online surveys measuring the 'Big Five' personality traits -- extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness -- as well as self-esteem and narcissism. The research found that people with low self-esteem more frequently posted status updates about their current romantic partner.
Narcissists more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community. 'These updates also received a greater number of 'likes' and comments, indicating that narcissists' boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave,' the authors said. Narcissists also wrote more status updates about their diet and exercise routine, suggesting that they use Facebook to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance. Conscientiousness was associated with writing more updates about one's children.
'Although results suggest that narcissists' bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays,' Marshall said. Greater awareness of how one's status updates might be perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain, the authors said.
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