Thousands of people have gotten into trouble because of the pictures they posted on their Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) site, but it turns out that it is not just pictures that can get you in trouble. A recent study conducted by Swedish researchers demonstrates that your Facebook posts can be used to determine if you have psychopathic personality tendencies.


The study was undertaken by academics at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg and Lund University in southern Sweden, and includes an analysis of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) status updates by 300 Americans, together with standardized personality tests. The study is titled the “Dark Side of Facebook,” and is published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Uncovering psychopathic traits

Facebook users in the study were required to complete a survey designed to test for personality traits such as extrovert, narcissistic, psychopathic or neurotic. Subjects then gave the researchers access to a selection of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) status updates. These updates were analyzed by an algorithm that measures the significance of words. The researchers discovered that people’s Facebook statuses could provide clues about their personalities.

“The status analyses could indicate which Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users demonstrated psychopathic and narcissistic personality traits in the personality tests”, Danilo García, a researcher at the Center for Ethics, Law and Mental Health at Sahlgrenska Academy, explained.

García added that subjects with a psychopathic personality posted “negatively charged or odd formulations more often”, such as updates with references to prostitutes, decapitation, pornography and butchers.

Lead researcher Sverker Sikström also mentioned he and García were surprised that Facebook posts somehow only revealed “dark” personality traits. “That was an interesting result, that the method only predicted these dark traits, but not the big five,” he said, in reference to the general personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The study also also found a statistically significant relationship between how many Facebook friends subjects had and how often they updated their Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) status and tendencies toward psychopathic traits.

Don’t worry about odd friends

Sikström added that you really don’t have to worry too much about your odd Facebook friends. “Even if you show psychopathic personality traits on Facebook, that doesn’t automatically mean you are a psychopath.”

For those who are worried about being screened by employers or the government based on their Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) postings, Sikström and Garcia suggest using the pronoun “I” frequently and avoid bragging.

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