In today’s day and age, if someone wants to learn more about you, they go straight to your social media profile. One quick glance at your photos and feed is all it takes to create a first impression.
Social media is deeply embedded in our culture, and it should come as no surprise that the way someone engages with social media says a lot about who they are.
In fact, according to a recent study from the Center for Information and Neural Networks and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, your personality traits, intelligence and mental health can all be predicted by your social media use.
Interesting and also a bit disconcerting, right? Read on to learn more!
Social Media Personality: Here’s What Researchers Found
Researchers used machine learning models, which made connections between personality characteristics and social media activity. Data was collected from 156 men and 83 women, with an average age of 22.
To predict social media personality as well as off-screen personality, researchers looked at four categories of social media information: network, time, and two natural language-based features. They found the strongest predictors were language and network features.
Following number, followers number, and history of likes are several examples of network information that was measured. For language, researchers looked at the frequency of words and phrases such as “I,” “you,” “me too,” and “do you.”
They also analyzed average word length and the use of emotional words.
Participants were also asked to complete numerous personality tests such as the Happiness Scale, the Machiavellianism Scale, the Obsessive‐Compulsive Inventory, the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, and more.
After analyzing all of the data, researchers were able to find several connections between personality traits and social media use.
Social Media Use, Intelligence, and Mental Health: Here Are the Findings
Along with predicting interpersonal traits such as autism, network and language also predicted mental health traits, including schizophrenia and anxiety.
Researchers found that intelligence level could be predicted by all four categories. For example, people with high verbal intelligence tweeted often and had more favorites on their posts. These people also replied in a timely manner.
Are you an empathizer or systemizer? This was the area of highest predictability. Empathizers are driven by their emotions and systemizers are rule followers.
Interestingly, researchers found the level of engagement predicted extroversion. The timing of replies was an indicator of being social or anti-social.
When it came to mental health, the use of “emotional words” was a strong indicator. The more negative the language, the more likely the user was anxious or depressed.
The takeaway: social media activity was a strong predictor for mental health, intelligence, whether you’re an empathizer or sympathizer, and overall life satisfaction.
According to the study’s authors, “Each information type has unique predictive strengths for specific traits and attributes,” showing “that personality prediction from social networking services is a powerful tool for both personality psychology and information technology.”
In the future, researchers aim to integrate their findings on personality identification in a way that can serve others.
What Does Your Social Media Use Say About You?
Human psychology is just as fascinating as it is complex. It’s fun to look at your personality through a new lens. You may learn something new about yourself or identify areas that could use improvement.
On a personal level, this information can help raise self-awareness. Perhaps you’re more anxious than you realize. Or maybe you need to balance your emotion-based decision-making with rules.
Also, many people fall into the comparison trap while on social media. It’s human nature to compare even though we know Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and beyond aren’t accurate depictions of someone’s life.
In the wise words of Steve Furtick, “The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
If your social media use and habits are leading to feelings of stress and anxiety, it may be time for a digital detox.