What’s the real difference between what men and women post on Facebook?

By Seriously Science | February 11, 2014 7:00 am
Figure 3. Words, phrases, and topics most highly distinguishing females and males. show more Female language features are shown on top while males below. Size of the word indicates the strength of the correlation; color indicates relative frequency of usage. Underscores (_) connect words of multiword phrases. Words and phrases are in the center; topics, represented as the 15 most prevalent words, surround. (:  females and  males; correlations adjusted for age; Bonferroni-corrected ).

Figure 3. Words, phrases, and topics most highly distinguishing females and males. Female language features are shown on top while males below. Size of the word indicates the strength of the correlation; color indicates relative frequency of usage. Underscores (_) connect words of multiword phrases. Words and phrases are in the center; topics, represented as the 15 most prevalent words, surround. (: females and males; correlations adjusted for age; Bonferroni-corrected ).

File this under “reinforcing stereotypes“: these scientists use word clouds created from the Facebook messages of 75,000 people to reveal not only the differences between men and women (fighting,  football and xbox vs. babies, emoticons, and shopping), but between introverts and extroverts (anime and computers vs. parties and ‘chillin’).  If this hasn’t paralyzed you from depression, continue reading for a peek at the rest of the word clouds in all their glory. xD 

Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach

“We analyzed 700 million words, phrases, and topic instances collected from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers, who also took standard personality tests, and found striking variations in language with personality, gender, and age. In our open-vocabulary technique, the data itself drives a comprehensive exploration of language that distinguishes people, finding connections that are not captured with traditional closed-vocabulary word-category analyses. Our analyses shed new light on psychosocial processes yielding results that are face valid (e.g., subjects living in high elevations talk about the mountains), tie in with other research (e.g., neurotic people disproportionately use the phrase ‘sick of’ and the word ‘depressed’), suggest new hypotheses (e.g., an active life implies emotional stability), and give detailed insights (males use the possessive ‘my’ when mentioning their ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’ more often than females use ‘my’ with ‘husband’ or ‘boyfriend’). To date, this represents the largest study, by an order of magnitude, of language and personality.”

Bonus figure from the main text:

Figure 6. Words, phrases, and topics most distinguishing extraversion from introversion and neuroticism from emotional stability. show more A. Language of extraversion (left, e.g., ‘party’) and introversion (right, e.g., ‘computer’); . B. Language distinguishing neuroticism (left, e.g. ‘hate’) from emotional stability (right, e.g., ‘blessed’); (adjusted for age and gender, Bonferroni-corrected ).

Figure 6. Words, phrases, and topics most distinguishing extraversion from introversion and neuroticism from emotional stability.
show more
A. Language of extraversion (left, e.g., ‘party’) and introversion (right, e.g., ‘computer’); . B. Language distinguishing neuroticism (left, e.g. ‘hate’) from emotional stability (right, e.g., ‘blessed’); (adjusted for age and gender, Bonferroni-corrected ).

Related content:
Why posting on Facebook could be good for you.
NCBI ROFL: The science of Facebook relationship status: It’s complicated.
NCBI ROFL: Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem.

  • osilva_05

    Interesting…what about people who do not FACEBOOK? How do you study and categorize their thoughts and personalities?

    • Rubén Da He

      Its easy. They dont even exist.

      • Don’t Even Try It!

        hahaha! I like that one!

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    This should come as no surprise to anyone. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. They have a habit of being generally true.

  • Clydebear

    75 million Americans I assume?

    • Alex Trottier

      Is America the only place where neurotic people act obnoxious?

      • numpty

        No, but it’s the only place religious phrases would feature so heavily in the emotional stability cloud, I’d wager.

  • Sieben Stern

    how is saying ‘blessed’ a sign of emotional stability? isn’t it a sign of narcissism and delusion?

    • lehock

      did you bring enough edge for the rest of the class?

    • Ken Little

      Now there a leap of faith. Why would using the word “blessed” be a sign of narcissism and delusion? Do you have studies you can cite?

      • Jenny Lorraine Nielsen

        Narcissism : most religious people believe their God is the only way to get to heaven.
        Delusion: There is no scientific proof of God.

        That’s the rationale. Do I agree with the idea that most religious people are actually narcissistic or (at least significantly) delusional? Nah.

        • Ken Little

          What ever their thinking or beliefs … neither narcissistic nor delusional by common or clinical definition applies.

          • Jenny Lorraine Nielsen

            Thinking you are special or better than everyone else does fit the clinical and common definition of narcissism. Do all religious people fit that definition? Of course not. Are all religious people “delusional” by common definition? It’s purely a matter of debate. I don’t personally think so, unless they are claiming God left the dinosaur bones to confuse us about creation or what have you.

      • Elliott Owen

        Because you’re essentially saying: “I was specially chosen by God for good things to happen to me. Sorry, everybody in Africa/Eastern Europe/North Korea — God just likes me more and wants me to have a better life.”

        It takes luck out of the equation and allows you to create a narrative where you’ve been ordained by God to have a better life than everyone else.

        • Ken Little

          Still, neither narcissistic nor delusional by common or clinical definition.

          • Elliott Owen

            “An imaginary bearded man who created the entire universe likes me more than billions of poor people, and that’s why good things are happening to me.”

            Yep, nothing narcissistic or delusional there at all…

          • Ken Little

            Yes, there is nothing narcissistic or delusional in the belief you describe, nor is the belief system you describe representative of religion in general, particularly since billions of poor people are adherents and a major tenet of one of the systems is that the meek shall inherent — giving the poor preferential treatment..

            You can critique the belief system if you wish, but you cannot within reason make up new definitions for words.

            Religious delusions are beliefs that are outside expected norms and that impact societal functioning in some significant way.

            Narcissism has nothing to do with a deity. It’s purely about self.

            nar·cis·sism
            noun
            1.
            inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Synonyms: self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.
            2.
            Psychoanalysis . erotic gratification derived from admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.

          • Don’t Even Try It!

            Simple definition of narcissism: b.h.obama

          • Guest

            @Don’t Even Try It! -
            Go away and stop trolling, Is that seriously the best example you can come up with!??

          • Don’t Even Try It!

            No. I used the simplest definition that your little liberal mind could understand ;-)

          • Piero Giorgi

            @Don’t Even Try It!
            Actually, you used the only definition that has been hammered in your little, closed and fearful conservative mind…
            LOL!

          • Don’t Even Try It!

            Well, I guess I was wrong…you can’t understand even the simpelest definition, hahaha!

    • Jenny Lorraine Nielsen

      It’s not that those words are a “sign” of stability. People who are deemed stable by personality tests they took are apparently more likely to have used those words on facebook. It does make sense that people who have something “bigger than themselves” to root them might be more stable. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are kinder to the unfortunate or whatever.

    • David Harris

      Because the people saying “blessed” aren’t usually the ones trolling over politics and divisive social issues.

    • Christos Themistocles Fotinako

      Just because I’m blessed doesn’t mean you aren’t. Bless you :)

      Let’s sing with the Monty Python boys while we all hang on our own respective imagined crosses … “All ways look on the bright side of life ….”

  • Hadrian Embalsado

    I guess nobody says porn to FB. LOL

  • milliondollar2014

    This article was soooo yummy! Yay! :) <3

  • http://kathleenmccoy.wordpress.com Kathleen McCoy

    Has anyone correlated these results with the typical ages of social media participants? I’ll bet a number of these stereotypical terms come from the young and not-yet-fully-educated crowd . . . .

    • Don’t Even Try It!

      Average age: 12 + or – a couple years ;-)

  • Matt Ahrens

    Laker’s basketball is associated with stability? when was this test done? haha

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