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Facebook Likes Used to Predict Personality Traits

As well as helping you to engage with your customers and march ahead of your competitors, liking a page on Facebook could now be used to glean specific information about a user's personality, from their level of intelligence to their political leanings.

Researchers at University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre looked at the Facebook likes and demographic information of around 58,000 volunteers based in the United States, mostly aged between 16 and 30, and asked each volunteer to take a psychometric test, which is designed to highlight personality traits.

The researchers then used algorithms to match the Facebook likes of a user with their demographic and psychometric information, and these algorithms proved to be incredibly accurate in determining certain aspects of a volunteer's personality.

The algorithms collected a huge amount of likes, for various subjects such as musicians, TV shows and retail brands, to create specific personality profiles, and some pairings were more obscure than others.

Users who liked a page for curly fries were more likely to have a higher level of intelligence, while fans of the Dark Knight movie tended to have fewer Facebook friends.

The data from the Facebook likes alone rarely gave specific insight into the traits of users. For example, fewer than five per cent of homosexual volunteers had liked "obvious" pages, such as gay marriage.

Michal Kosinski, operations director at the Psychometrics Centre, said of the findings: "We believe that our results, while based on Facebook likes, apply to a wider range of online behaviours. Similar predications would be made from all manner of digital data, with this kind of secondary 'inference' made with remarkable accuracy."

This study will be of enormous interest to online marketers, who are already using cookies to send personalised ads to web users. With this kind of information at their disposal, the targeted advertising strategy could become even more specific with regards to the demographic of users a business would like to reach out to.


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