Does your personality influence how you use the web?

The British Psychological Society blog highlights recent research by Leman Tosun and Timo Lajunen (requires login) into personality type and internet usage:

Using Eysenck’s classic personality test, Tosun and Lajunen found that students who scored high on extraversion (agreeing with statements like ‘I am very talkative’) tended to use the Internet to extend their real-life relationships, whereas students who scored high on psychoticism (answering ‘yes’ to statements like ‘does your mood often go up and down?’ and ‘do you like movie scenes involving violence and torture?’) tended to use the Internet as a substitute for face-to-face relationships. Students who scored high on psychoticism were also likely to say that they found it easier to reveal their true selves online than face-to-face. The personality subscale of neuroticism (indicated by ‘yes’ answers to items like ‘Do things often seem hopeless to you?) was not associated with styles of Internet use.

‘Our data suggest that global personality traits may explain social Internet use to some extent,’ the researchers concluded. ‘In future studies, a more detailed index of social motives can be used to better understand the relation between personality and Internet use.’

I wonder how long it will take for companies that use psychometric testing to add an additional “internet user type” section…

3 thoughts on “Does your personality influence how you use the web?

  1. My undergraduate research was on personality and navigation through a hypertext environment. The literature is quite extensive.
    Companies that use psychometrics would not need to extend their testing. The traits measured in the study are measured in standard tests. It also probably wouldn’t tell the employer anything they wouldn’t already surmise from the standard result report.

  2. Suw interestingly I was wondering just this morning what the correlation might be between Belbin’s team types ‘resourcer’ and twitter users. I suspect most people who genuinely use twitter (not autobots) might be inclined to gather and weave networks via twitter and therefore be on there for the same reason being part of those networks.
    Which is great but does it basically mean we’re talkikng to the same (but larger) people we’d find anyway?
    And are we missing all the other people who aren’t natural networkers or ‘resourcers’
    team roles for ref http://www.belbin.com/content/page/49/Belbin_Team_Role_Descriptions.pdf
    I also find that over time, behaviour online replicates behaviour in ‘real life’ though perhaps in greater extremes. In forums some people will want to be heard, others happy to ‘lurk’ and say nothing; some try to manipulate, ridicule and bully others whilst some enjoy the process of creating networks and finidng common interests…
    Am learning through my own experience that what applies in life applies online. But I can’t offer you any reports to prove it. (Though I’m sure they’re out there)

  3. Ruth, yes, I’m sure there’s a lot more literature than I’m aware of! If you have any real must-reada papers to suggest, please do!
    Sally, that’s an interesting question. I think the thing about Twitter is if your stream is public, then you are not just talking to people who agree with you but also, potentially, to those who don’t. I’ve certainly had ideas challenged by people I don’t know on Twitter! And, without a doubt, online mirrors offline most of the time, although some people do find themselves more confident online than off. Generally, though, all the good and band you find offline, you find online too.

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