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Metaphysics & Psychology

Can Facebook Status Updates Indicate Psychopathy?

Can Facebook Status Updates Indicate Psychopathy? 1

Anyone could certainly compose a valid argument that Facebook is a key indicator of narcissism, but it’s hard to say that liking the musical works of Phil Collins more than Huey Lewis and the News is genuinely indicative of psychopathy. Of course, for those who do not have a Facebook page, you can rest assured that you are just as likely to be psychopaths as well!

VIA Daily Mail

For most people, most of the time, Facebook is a bright and breezy place where they share holiday and baby photos and brag about great parties they’ve been to.

But the social media site has a darker side, because a new study reveals that status updates can reveal a range of personality traits, including if someone has psychopathic tendencies.

Researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy and Lund University in Sweden found that status updates that indicated psychopathy could concern prostitutes, decapitation, pornography and butchers.

People with psychopathic traits are strongly focused on their own wishes, and have a lack of empathy for others. These people often break norms and rules, and have a higher inclination to commit crime, the researchers said.

Those with narcissistic personality traits could emphasise their own good characteristics by, for example, noting that others did not understand what true happiness is, the study found.

People with narcissistic traits are self-absorbed, self-glorifying and have an exaggerated confidence in their own abilities.

Neurotic personality traits can also be discerned from the analysis of the status updates and are also discerned by how many friends you have on Facebook and how often you update your status

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The study also shows that Facebook users with extrovert and open personalities generally have many friends on Facebook and update their status more often than others.

People with Machiavellian traits, meanwhile, are cynical, emotionally distant and unaffected by morals. They deceive and manipulate people in their surroundings to gain advantages.

The research was based on personality tests and content analyses in status updates on Facebook for just over 300 Americans and is the first of its kind.

‘Facebook has revolutionised how people interact on the Internet, and this offers a unique opportunity for psychological research,’ said Danilo Garcia, researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy’s research centre, the Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health.

The Facebook users answered a scientific questionnaire with questions that test extrovert, neurotic, psychopathic, narcissistic and Machiavellian personality traits. They also sent in their 15 most recent status updates.

The contents of the status updates were then studied with algorithms for latent semantic analysis, which is a method for measuring the significance of words.

For those people who’ve read status updates from friends that seem bizarre, Lund University psychologist Sverker Sikström, who was involved in the study, has some words of comfort.

He told The Local: ‘Even if you show psychopathic personality traits on Facebook, that doesn’t automatically mean you are a psychopath.’

The study, called The dark Side Of Facebook, is published in the scientific journal Personality And Individual Differences.

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