Monday, 9 April 2007

Online personality

I came across a couple of studies by Sam Gosling and others who looked at personality as portrayed online, the first looked at personal websites and the second at social networking sites. Both links are to pdf files.

The studies both showed that the online personality displayed matched very closely the actual personality of the individual.

I find this really quite fascinating because it seems to fly in the face of perceived wisdom, that people seem “anonymous” online and that this is the reason for a great deal of the unpleasantness and flaming that you hear about (and fortunately in my case I’ve never experienced it). I would have thought if you can pick up a person’s personality, you would be unlikely to engage in the threatening and abusive commenting that does happen.


  1. A.,
    It's fascinating, isn't it, how difficult it actually is to hide completely one's true personality. We shed 'behavioral residue' all over the place. It's also amazing how very, very good humans generally are at picking up contextual, rather than directly stated, clues, even when the context is highly structured by the author, such as in a blog. I visit half a dozen blogs on a regular basis and I think I've formed a reasonably accurate picture of the author. Not physical aspects, like appearance or age or family history, but traits that the papers' authors cite.

    I doubt that the 'cyber terrorists' or 'trolls', whose harassment has made life misery for so many bloggers, care one way or another about what the blogger is really like. In that sense, Figleaf is right in his comparison with the crocodile: the blogger is a target.

  2. I'm sure you're right. I've formed pictures of people, but have always wondered if I'm completely off the mark. I'm never sure either, how much physical appearance affects how you think of someone. I've met a few people in real life after knowing them first online, and one in particular was really very different.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin