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Can what you Google reveal your true self?

Online searches reveal true thoughts
"Everybody Lies": Online searches reveal our true thoughts 05:14

Tech giant IBM says two and a half quintillion bytes of data are generated every day – equivalent to 90 years of HD video. To put that in perspective, that's a 2 and a 5 with 17 zeroes behind them.


A new book examines what all this data reveals about us. Data scientist and New York Times op-ed contributor Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is the author of "Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are." He joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss some of his wide-ranging insights into human behavior, as told by our digital footprint.  

Stephens-Davidowitz calls Google searches the most important data set collected on the human psyche.

"People lie consistently to just about everybody but they tend to be really really honest to Google. Something about that little white box people feel comfortable telling things they might not tell to anyone else and it serves as kind of a digital truth serum," he said.

Stephens-Davidowitz, who has studied Google search data for five years said, "You can see from what people are searching what they really think, what they really want and what they really desire."

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Not just that, but "a lot of our stereotypes, a lot of what we think about the world is dead wrong." 

One example of this is seen in analysis of anxiety levels. The data scientist was surprised to find the highest stress levels not in big cities typically associated with a stressful lifestyle, like New York City, but instead in rural areas, according to Google search data analysis.

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He also looked at how social media posts about husbands differ from Google searches about husbands. On social media, husbands tend to be described as "the best" or "my best friend," while Google searches focus on more negative terms like "a jerk" or "annoying." ("Amazing" makes both lists.)

"It's really interesting when you compare social media versus Google because social media, in some sense, we're the biggest liars because we're trying to impress our friends."

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For more revelations, including one that "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King still finds hard to believe, watch the above video. 

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