Study: Facebook 'likes' predict personality, sexuality, IQ

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  March 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM
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Do your Facebook likes reveal too much information about you? Science says yes.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge had over 58,000 volunteers share their profile information and likes, then take psychological and intelligence tests. Then they ran algorithms to see how likes correlated with what they knew about users. Their study is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the researchers, the system was 88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate in determining African-American from Caucasian, and 85% accurate in differentiating Republican from Democrat. The system was also able to distinguish Christian or Muslim 82% of the time. Substance abuse was detected about 73% of the time.

It's no surprise that liking "No H8 Campaign" could predict sexuality, as the group promotes "marriage, gender and human equality," but only 5 percent of those "outed" by their likes were associated with such obvious groups. Other predictors of sexuality included liking "Wicked, The Musical," MAC Cosmetics and the band "Tegan and Sara."

Extroverts liked beer pong, cheerleading, and Chris Tucker. Introverts liked video games and Voltaire. The correlations for substance use were a bit weaker, but liking Austin, Texas, or "Pushing Your Friends into Random People in the Hallway" were strong predictors of drug use.

If you like Curly Fries, you might be smarter than the average Facebook user, for reasons that are unknown to researchers. David Stillwell, the research manager of Cambridge's psychometrics center, acknowledged that particular result was "statistical noise."

“All these likes are building up over time. Once you have hundreds of these, you can start making predictions,” Stillwell said. “If an employer saw it, what would they know about you?”

If you're curious about what your likes say about you, the researchers created an app to analyze your Facebook likes.

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