What Facebook photos say about someone's personality

CNET

The way your Facebook profile looks may suggest a lot about your personality, a new study finds.

Researchers found that extroverts and neurotics both upload significant numbers of photos to their Facebook pages, but extroverts tend to change their profile cover photos, while neurotics tend to upload more photos per album.

The investigators recruited more than 100 people between the ages of 17 and 55, and the participants completed questionnaires about their personality and demographics. More than 70 percent of the participants were women. The researchers then studied how the individuals uploaded photos and interacted with their Facebook friends. [Top 10 Golden Rules of Facebook]

The link between extroversion and the tendency to upload lots of photos may not seem surprising, but how can the same tendency be explained in neurotics, whom the researchers describe as people who are "characterized by a temperamental nature, being prone to stress and anxiety"?

"Neurotics strongly desire approval," but they may not be good communicators and they lack social skills, said study author Azar Eftekhar, a Ph.D. student in the department of psychology at the University of Wolverhampton, in the United Kingdom.

"As socially anxious individuals, they see Facebook [as] a safe place for self-expression and to compensate for their offline deficiencies," Eftekhar told Live Science.

"Our findings suggest [neurotics] seek acceptance implicitly through intensive photo uploads to look more attractive and popular online and to 'keep up with the Joneses,' or to keep up with the popular visual culture," she said.

The researchers also found that conscientious people in the study uploaded more videos and created more "self-generated" photo albums than people who were generally less thorough in real life. The researchers defined "self-generated" albums as any collection of photos beyond the albums automatically created by Facebook (such as the profile picture album, cover album and video album).

"The point is that such [conscientious] individuals are self-disciplined and goal-orientated, thus they have [a] tendency to document and organize their photos and videos using online visual tools," Eftekhar said.

The researchers said that the study results point to certain similarities between how human relationships operate on Facebook and in real life.

"Facebook relationships tend to reflect offline networks," Eftekhar said.

For instance, the people in the study who were more "agreeable" in real life, meaning they are generally friendly to others and avoid arguing, tended to attract more comments and "likes" to their posts, the researchers said.

One possible explanation for this is that Facebook users may respond to the perceived kindness of their agreeable friends by liking and commenting on their photos more frequently, Eftekhar said.

"In Facebook popular culture, liking and commenting imply attention and care to friends' life events announced via photo updates," she said. "In a similar vein, users 'like' product brands or fan pages and participate by leaving comments to express their support and admiration."

The findings of the study were published in the August issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Follow Agata Blaszczak-Boxe on Twitter. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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