You all read blogs, and many of you write them, too. But what sort of person writes a blog? Are there particular personality traits that make certain people more likely to write a blog? If so, what are those personality traits? Do you have them, too?
A team of scientists, led by psychologist Rosanna Guadagno from the University of Alabama, wondered what personality traits made some people more likely than others to write blogs. To answer these questions, Guadagno and her colleagues used the Big Five personality inventory test to measure five key personality traits in college students who write blogs.
The Big Five personality traits are five broad personality factors that had been discovered throughout repeated psychological research during the middle of the twentieth century. As agreed by the professionals in the field, these Big Five factors are Openness to new experiences, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN) and each comprises a cluster of more specific personality traits that correlate together. For example, Neuroticism includes such related qualities as a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily and is sometimes referred to as emotional instability. One of the Big Five qualities, Openness — which comprises an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experiences — is still widely discussed in the literature, where it is often referred to as “intellect.” Nevertheless, despite some discussion among the experts as to how to define the subtle nuances of these five qualities, research shows that they become stable measurable personality qualities in humans after they’ve reached adulthood. So how do these personality traits correlate to blog writing?
To answer these questions, Guadagno and her team surveyed more than 300 college students from the University of Alabama and Southeastern University about their blog writing and reading habits and had them all complete the Big Five Personality Inventory test.
According to their results, Guadagno’s team found that high scores for two of the Big Five qualities strongly predicted blog writing activity: Openness to new experience and Neuroticism. Considering that blog writing and reading is a new activity that was mostly unheard of even five years ago, Openness to new experiences is a logical prerequisite for adopting in this behavior. High Neuroticism is also not a surprising finding, since even bloggers refer to writing about personal experiences as “navel gazing” — neurotic behavior.
Guadagno’s team also found some gender differences. For example, women with a high Neuroticism score who were also lonely were more likely to write a blog, while this was not the case among men who write blogs.
Like all good studies, this one suggests a large number and variety of questions that are worth investigating: for example, it would be instructive to examine the content of blogs to determine whether they reflect aspects of an individual’s personality; whether a blog writer’s word choice predicts their ability to cope with traumatic events; and especially, to learn more about why people write blogs (coping, reaching out for social support, etc.)? Personally, I am curious to know if certain types of blogs are predicted by particular personality traits, for example, are blogs about science or about one’s career predicted by a different group of personality traits than blogs about dating or one’s personal life?
Additionally, Guadagno cautions that her team’s results may not be more widely applicable beyond her sample group: American college students, an age group whose Big Five personality traits are still undergoing some changes. But she reminds us that understanding blog writing is a worthwhile goal.
“One thing that remains clear is that blogs are a form of online expression that is gaining in popularity and that they represent one of the newer forms of online social interaction,” write the authors in their paper. “As such, it is important for social scientists to continue to examine this phenomenon to fully understand its affects on psychological processes that differentiate it from other similar forms of self-expression.”
Of course, I was quite interested and took this Big Five personality test. My results are;
Your score on Extraversion is average, indicating you are neither a subdued loner nor a jovial chatterbox. You enjoy time with others but also time alone. [my score: 45%]
Your high level of Agreeableness indicates a strong interest in others’ needs and well-being. You are pleasant, sympathetic, and cooperative. [my score: 77%]
Your score on Conscientiousness is high. This means you set clear goals and pursue them with determination. People regard you as reliable and hard-working. [my score: 96%]
Your score on Neuroticism is average, indicating that your level of emotional reactivity is typical of the general population. Stressful and frustrating situations are somewhat upsetting to you, but you are generally able to get over these feelings and cope with these situations. [my score: 40%]
Your score on Openness to Experience is high, indicating you enjoy novelty, variety, and change. You are curious, imaginative, and creative. [my score: 99%]
My Agreeableness score is higher than I’d expected since I am not much of a cooperator in real life (I am outspoken and opinionated which makes me mostly a loner, although I am very concerned about others’ welfare).
How did you score? Do you agree with those scores? Do you write a blog? Do you think these personality traits are predictive for blog writing?
Guadagno, R., Okdie, B., Eno, C. (2008). Who blogs? Personality predictors of blogging. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 1993-2004. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.001.