What your Facebook likes reveal

Last updated 11:32 12/03/2013

FACEBOOK ORACLE: We love curly fries, and Stephen Colbert too - we must be smart then!

Related Links

When two become one Facebook Facebook use damages self-restraint Grieving on Facebook

Relevant offers


14 little things that make women furious (that men could care less about) Why I'd rather have online friends than real ones How the company you keep impacts your happiness Graeme Dingle and Jo-anne Wilkinson's Graeme Dingle Foundation helps young Kiwis achieve their potential Anglican Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth: 'It's not hard to go and meet your neighbour' Leah McFall: Wake up and smell the con job Laser removal: What it's like getting a tattoo removed Matt Rilkoff: Ironing out the drudgery of middle class life Obese man challenges himself (and mum) to a 60 day juice cleanse - loses 11kg in four days From Playboy Playmate to activist: Pamela Anderson's curious reinvention

If you thought clicking ''like'' on Facebook posts of cute kittens and Ryan Gosling memes said little about you, think again.

Social psychologists have studied Facebook users' likes and found they reveal a startlingly accurate picture of an individual's personality traits, including their sexual orientation, political party preference and drug use.

The findings build on previous research that has shown the seemingly innocuous information people post about themselves on social media and the internet can imply a lot about a person, all of which can be easily accessed by advertisers to better target their marketing.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge studied the Facebook likes - a mechanism for users to express their fondness for other user's photos, status updates or pages - of more than 58,000 Americans, who, as well as giving the researchers permission to analyse their online profiles, provided demographic details and sat for psychometric tests.

When they entered the data into a mathematical model, they found it accurately discriminated between African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95 per cent of cases; between Democrats and Republicans with 85 per cent accuracy; and between gay and straight men 88 per cent of the time. It could pick a drug user in 65 per cent of cases.

While the model was better at discriminating between attributes that had only two options, such as gender, it could also predict some personality traits or features that had multiple variables, such as age and intelligence.

The model forecast a person's intelligence accurately in about 38 per cent of cases; determined whether they were an extrovert in 40 per cent of cases; and estimated a person's emotional stability 30 per cent of the time.

While the ability to deduct information from basic digital records could be used to improve products and services, the researchers noted there may be negative implications because it could be applied to large numbers of people without their consent or without them even noticing.

- Daily Life

Ad Feedback


Recipe search

Special offers
Opinion poll

Is it ever OK to complain about other people's kids?

Yes, children should be seen and not heard.

No, let kids be kids and let off steam.

It depends on the situation.

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content