The Psychology of Language on Facebook

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As part of the World Well-Being Project, which leads initiatives to analyze social media’s big data for application to psychological theory, a new University of Pennsylvania study is sharing insights on the internet’s linguistic and personality trends. Amassing 75,000 volunteers, researchers examined status updates containing over 700 million words, phrases and topics. Through predictive analysis, they were able to match language with simple personality questionnaires, and with striking accuracy they revealed age, gender and personality type. The impact of the emotional and cultural tides online can benefit psychological understanding. Another upside to this new “open-vocabulary approach” to research is that it could replace the need for surveys, with future studies only requiring a volunteer’s consent.