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Words on Facebook Reveal Age, Sex and Personality

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that they can pinpoint with 92 percent accuracy personality traits and age based on a user's language on Facebook.

    The study published by PLOS ONE, had researchers looking at the language, or an "open-vocabulary approach" in 75,000 profiles and found that it could make predictions about each user's profile and be 92 percent accurate predicting gender and age within three years, according to the MIT Technology Review. 

    Essentially, according to the Review, "they let the data drive which words or phrases were considered most important." Researchers looked at trait markers they already knew. 

    Each study participant filled out a questionnaire and scored themselves on five personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. The scientists then looked at profile updates for language that matched with the test scores. Some of the words were consistent with extroverts, such as "party", while introverts used "anime" or "manga." Those who were more neurotic used "depressed" more often.

    Martin Seligman, the director of the Positive Psychology Center at Penn said that the study answered vital questions.“‘What's it like to be an extrovert?’" he asked. "‘What's it like to be a teenage girl?’ ‘What's it like to be schizophrenic or neurotic?’ or ‘What's it like to be 70 years old?’ these word clouds come much closer to the heart of the matter than do all the questionnaires in existence.”
    Are we all as easy to suss out in only a few words? Likely not because we didn't fill out questionnaires, but if someone looked at your Facebook posts and profile today, what would they think you were like?