Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blog Personality

I've often heard people respond to criticisms of their blogging with the idea that "you think you may know me, but you don't really know me." I just read an article that seems to indicate that we can know a great deal about people based on their online work. Perhaps not their heart and soul, but at least a great deal about the fundamental personality dimensions that shape their behavior.

Vazire & Gosling (2004) e-Perceptions: Personality Impressions Based on Personal Websites. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 87 (123-132)

These researchers had people rate the personality of individuals whose web page they had reviewed. They compared these ratings with the page owners' self-reported personality. They then compared the accuracy of these ratings to previous research that looked at how accurately someone's personality could be judged based on seeing a picture of their bedroom or office.

The theory behind the study is that people make "identity claims" on their web pages, symbolic statements about who they are and what they are like. A good example of this would be page buttons and links. Everything from format to buttons to graphics are attempts to give others an impression of who you are. In the case of an office, the books on your shelf, the pictures on your walls, etc. all are intentional expressions of your personality.

The other kind of information that is able to be gleaned is called "behavioral residue." These are unintentional disclosures about yourself. In previous research, rating photos of bedrooms and offices, this included pizza boxes, gym socks, etc. Stuff laying around that gives you an idea of what the person does on a daily basis. The authors of the article said that this is pretty rare on a web page. I contend that on a blog, it is not at all rare. Behavioral residue includes spelling and grammar errors (or scrupulosity), speed at which a comment acknowledged, tone of responses, frequency of link updating, and other things that give you a clue as to what the author is really like. The study used static web pages rather than blogs, which I think are probably better indicators of personality as they include dynamic interactions between people.

So, here's a brief experiment. Follow this link and answer 10 quick questions about this blog. I will then do a post summarizing the results and talking about what the 5 factors of personality are.

By the way, this does relate to work. Anymore, it is entirely acceptable to have a web resume or an online portfolio (especially for the techies among us). Further, these five personality dimensions are very work relevant, and I'll explain that later. So, we could be saying a lot more about ourselves on a web resume than we think we are saying. It would make sense to consciously tailor your online presence to convey what you want about yourself, rather than accidentally revealing things that are not in your best interest.


Blogger solarblogger said...

I went ahead and did the survey.

Some discussions in this field have to do with whether things are really scientific. I am inclined to think that the best parts are not. The most valuable parts of your field, to me, are art. (I believe there is science to much that is done as well. When I want that, I tend to read neurology.)

Do you expect testing to be science? Or is there a good place for art in such devices?

3:16 PM  

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