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Facebook use ‘can reveal if you’re a psychopath’

Your Facebook status updates can reveal whether or not you have psychopathic personality traits, according to Swedish researchers who have analyzed entries on the popular social media site to uncover users’ personality characteristics.

The study, carried out by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg and Lund University in southern Sweden, involved an analysis of Facebook status updates by 300 Americans, combined with personality tests.

“We looked at people’s Facebook status updates and analyzed whether there was a relationship between the texts and people’s personality traits,” Lund University psychology professor Sverker Sikström told The Local.

The researchers first had the Facebook users answer a survey designed to test for a number of personality traits, including extrovert, narcissistic, psychopathic, or neurotic. Test subjects then submitted a selection of Facebook status updates that were analyzed with an algorithm developed by Sikström that measures the significance of words.

The researchers discovered that people’s Facebook status could provide clues about their personalities.

“The status analyses could indicate which Facebook users demonstrated psychopathic and narcissistic personality traits in the personality tests,” Danilo García, a researcher at the Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health at Sahlgrenska Academy, said in a statement.

He added that those with a psychopathic personality posted “negatively charged or odd formulations more often”, including entries about prostitutes, decapitation, pornography and butchers.

Sikström added he and García were surprised that Facebook only seemed to be able reveal the “dark” psychopathic, narcissistic or Machiavellian personality traits.

“That was an interesting result, that the method only predicted these dark traits, but not the big five,” he said, referring to the five broad personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

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    Gee, I never would have been able to tell…
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