Whether it's Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, the various social networks all have distinct characteristics.  Facebook for instance places an emphasis on who you are and who you know.  Twitter by contrast focuses more on what you say.

New research from the University of Manchester questions whether our choice of social network is related to our personality type.

The research team surveyed 300 people about the way they use Facebook and Twitter, and on which network they preferred. In addition, they were asked questions aimed at determining their personality type.  These latter questions sought to determine the sociability of each individual and their need for mental stimulation.  The questions revolved around the so called big five personality types:

  • Extraversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness
  • Agreeableness

The results suggest that our choice of social network has little to do with our personalities, with factors such as intelligence and motivation believed to be bigger influencers.  There were some correlations between the use of social network and personality though.

For instance people that used Facebook for socialising perhaps not surprisingly scored highly on sociability and neuroticism.  Soial use of Twitter by contrast correlated with high sociability and openness.  Neuroticism wasn't a factor because it's more about opinions than likeability.  These findings suggest that Facebook is used more often to combat lonelyness, whilst Twitter is a means of social procrastination.

In information terms there were also some interesting findings.  Facebook users who turned to the network for information were found to score higher on neuroticism, sociability, extraversion and openness, but lower on conscientiousness and need for mental stimulation.

Twitter users seeking information were the polar opposite.  They scored much higher on the mental stimulation front and lower on sociability, extraversion and neuroticism.

There are obvious implications in these findings.  It clearly suggests that Facebook users tend to share fluff, whilst Twitter users look for more stimulating content.  The results revealed that people who desire mental stimulation preferred to use Twitter than Facebook.

It should be noted that the feedback from users was largely self-reported, so might not be entirely accurate, but nevertheless it chimes almost exactly with a similar study conducted by Boston University recently.