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If Narcissus had been on Facebook – Study examines personality as revealed by Facebook updates

Your Facebook friends may be revealing more about themselves than they realize when they update their status, according to a Brunel University study. The Daily Mail reported that the study centered around the Big Five personality traits: extroversion, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness. Other traits that were examined included self-esteem and narcissism.

According to Dr. Tara Marshall of Brunel University, this isn’t a huge surprise to anyone who uses Facebook, but rather reinforces and confirms suspicions from those who like to read into Facebook posts a little more deeply. “It might come as little surprise that Facebook status updates reflect people’s personality traits. However, it is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook,” she said.

Researchers found that extroverts were not motivated by likes but rather by interaction with others on social media. People who scored high in neuroticism sought validation from others. When they received more likes and comments, they experienced social inclusion, in contrast to those who didn’t receive any likes or comments.

Related: Women post more photos on Facebook to boost self-esteem, study finds

According to the study, narcissists in particular are motivated by likes, and generally point out their personal achievements. They also like to post about diet and exercise. Their polar opposites are those who scored high in openness. These people don’t seek out likes (and thus don’t post for social interaction), and prefer to post about politics and other intellectual topics.

Conscientious users, however, posted mostly about their romantic partners (and, if they have them, children). The study notes that these people aren’t very active on Facebook, and tend to be more aware of how others view their status updates.

If you have low self-esteem and happen to be in a relationship, prepare to be shunned — the study noted that people with low self-esteem also post about their romantic partners, but far more frequently than conscientious users. Their motivations are to address insecurities and demonstrate to others that their relationship is stable. These people as a group receive less likes and comments.

However, the researchers did note that more studies must be done — specifically on how subjects’ Facebook friends react to updates in real life and online.