If you think you're keeping any secrets on Facebook, think again. It's not just what you post on the social networking site, but how you post it that reveals what kind of person you are.
That's the contention of researchers at the University of Missouri who have developed a new scale that judges people's personality based on how they use the popular social media site.
The scale reveals that those who like high-risk activity tend to update their status, upload photos and interact with friends frequently. While conversely, those who are more reserved tend to merely scroll through Facebook's "news feed," and don't upload photos or actively engage with their friends.
Missouri doctoral student Heather Shoenberger developed the scale after surveying people about their use of Facebook and having them take a personality test.
Those who leaned toward high-risk activities were labeled as "appetitive," with those who were more reserved in their activities labeled as "aversive." While both personality types use Facebook frequently, Shoenberger found significant differences in how each uses the social media site.
"If you're highly "appetitive" or lean toward high-risk activities, you're more likely to want to engage with media that are more exciting, whereas those who are higher in the "aversive" trait tend to enjoy safer and more predictable media experiences," Shoenberger said.
The scale could help advertisers target online audiences easier, according to Shoenberger.
"I believe this could really help advertisers and certain types of media groups target potential customers with particular ads on social media sites," Shoenberger said. "Identifying these individuals using the motivation activation measure can give advertisers an advantage over their competitors and bring some order to online advertising."
For example, she says companies that want to target consumers for a high-risk activity should try to determine who is active on Facebook and frequently posting pictures and updating their status.
The study was recently presented at the International Communication Association Conference in Phoenix.