Study Decodes the 5 Types of Facebook Status Updates

Your Facebook page reveals your personality type to the trained eye.

Posted Aug 07, 2015

Who needs personality tests when you have Facebook? Your response to Facebook’s famous question, “What’s on your mind?” says a lot about who you are and how you feel about yourself according to a new study published in Personality and Individual Differences.

While a single status update won’t reveal a person’s personality, certain patterns are likely to emerge. These patterns reveal your main objective in using Facebook. Whether you’re looking to gain attention, feel loved, stay informed, express your opinions, or communicate with people you don’t often see, your personality type becomes clear to the trained eye.

The study found that the type of Facebook status updates people make offer insight into their personality type as well as their insecurities. Based on those findings, here are five examples of status updates and what they may reveal about personality,

1. “The Presidential debate left a lot to be desired.”

People who are high in openness to experience–characterized by an active imagination, attentiveness to inner feelings, and intellectual curiosity—tend to use their status updates to talk about intellectual topics. Rather than share what they ate for dinner, people who rank high in openness primarily use Facebook to share information on current events, research, or politics. Contrary to what ‘openness’ may imply, people with this personality type share mostly impersonal information.

2. “I can’t wait for the class reunion this summer!”

Just as you may expect, extroverts use Facebook to communicate and connect with others. Their status updates include commentary on their latest social activities and they tend to talk a lot about everyday life.

3. “Here’s a picture of my son at his soccer game today.”

People who rank high in conscientiousness—known for being careful, thorough, and vigilant—often give updates about their children. They may post pictures, share stories, or discuss their children’s activities. Researchers believe frequently sharing about children serves as an indirect form of competitive parenting. Conscientious parents secretly want to gain admiration from others for their parenting accomplishments.

4. “I’m starting to see some excellent results from my low carb diet.”

Frequent updates about a diet or exercise routine may signal narcissism. Narcissists tend to use their status updates as opportunities to share about their latest accomplishments or to talk about all the work they’re doing to make themselves look good.

Narcissists often gain a lot of likes and comments on their status updates, which can fuel their need for attention and validation. Researchers found that their close friends often offer a thumbs up, even when they don’t really like a narcissist’s posts. Acquaintances usually ignore a narcissist’s excessive self-admiration, until they can’t stand it any longer. Eventually, acquaintances tend to unfriend narcissists.

5. “I’m not going to let people walk all over me anymore. I’m done with this.”

Neurotic people—those who are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, envy, and guilt—use Facebook to gain the attention and support they lack offline. Neurotic people also tend to interpret everyday frustrations as major difficulties, so they use Facebook to vent about their problems or post updates that create drama. They gain validation when people offer consolation for their problems.

Understanding Personality Type

The Facebook status update test certainly isn't 100% accurate of course. There are more types of status updates, and several more personality types that weren't included in this study. 

I’d love to know, do you think your Facebook status updates offer accurate insight into your personality?

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.