The study, dramatically titled, “The Dark Side of Facebook,” was conducted by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg and Lund University in Sweden. The status updates of 300 Americans were analyzed and compared with the participants' personality tests. The test was designed to determine whether the users possessed extrovert, narcissistic, psychopathic, or neurotic characteristics. "We looked at people's Facebook status updates and analyzed whether there was a relationship between the texts and people's personality traits," Professor Sverker Sikström explained to Swedish paper, The Local.
Not surprisingly, they found the correlation you might expect. Those who possessed the “dark triad” of personality traits — psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism — had unusually revealing and disturbing Facebook statuses. They post “negatively charged or odd formulations more often,” and reference subject matter about prostitutes, decapitation, pornography, and butchers. Ick.
How many Facebook friends a user has and how often they update their status can also provide clues about their latent dark side. "Facebook is about connecting people, but in so doing it has created a challenge of increasing competition in the market for social interaction," said Sikström. These days, artfully shot selfies and esoteric pop culture references just aren’t enough to make you stand out. Some may take more drastic measures to be noticed. "The competition for attention could actually end up getting people to reveal more of their dark side,” the professor concluded. Uh-oh.
As tends to be the case with these sorts of studies, researchers admit their findings are preliminary and need to be adapted to other languages. They also added they can’t say for sure if someone’s Facebook indicates they're a ticking time bomb. “Even if you show psychopathic personality traits on Facebook, that doesn't automatically mean you are a psychopath," Sikström said. Phew! Our deep, dark secret is safe — for now. (The Local)