Facebook Gender and Personality

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Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012) 107–112 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Computers in Human Behavior journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh Make new friends or keep the old: Gender and personality differences in social networking use Nicole L. Muscanell ⇑, Rosanna E. Guadagno Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, AL 35487-0348, United States a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t The present study examined the influence of gender and personali
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  Make new friends or keep the old: Gender and personality differencesin social networking use Nicole L. Muscanell ⇑ , Rosanna E. Guadagno Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, AL 35487-0348, United States a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Available online 14 September 2011 Keywords: GenderPersonalityIndividual differencesSocial networkingInternetFive factor model a b s t r a c t The present study examined the influence of gender and personality on individuals’ use of online socialnetworking websites such as Facebook and MySpace. Participants were 238 undergraduate students whoreported being members of Facebook, MySpace, or both. Based on prior research examining online behav-ior, we expected that gender and scores on the Big Five personality scale would moderate online socialnetworking behavior. The results supported our predictions. Specifically, men reported using social net-working sites for forming new relationships while women reported using them more for relationshipmaintenance. Furthermore, women low in agreeableness reported using instant messaging features of social networking sites more often than women high in agreeableness, whereas men low in opennessreported playing more games on social networking sites compared to men high in openness. Overall,these results indicate the importance of examining individual differences in online behavior.Published by Elsevier Ltd. 1. Introduction In recent years, use of the Internet as a means of interpersonalcommunication has grown and changed dramatically. One suchchange is the advent of social networking websites. Socialnetworking sites, such as Facebook (www.facebook.com) andMySpace (www.myspace.com), provide Internet users with avirtual venue oriented toward interpersonal communication withfriends, relatives, peers, co-workers, and strangers. In 2005 only8% of adult Internet users were members of social networkingwebsites (Lenhart, 2009). However, that number has more thanquadrupled to 35% in 2009. Because social networking sites are rel-atively new, there is a paucity of psychological research examiningquestions such as: What specific behaviors do individuals engagein while using these sites? And what psychological processesunderlie these behaviors? This paper aims to address these ques-tions by examining individual differences in social networkingusage. Specifically, we examined whether gender and the five-factor model of personality (Big 5;Benet-Martinez & John, 1998; John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991; John, Naumann, & Soto, 2008)moderate the activities individuals engage in while using socialnetworking sites. 1.1. What is a social networking site? Social networking sites provide a venue for people to interactwith other individuals – friends, family, or solely online friends(Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008). Facebook and MySpace are thetwo most popular social networking sites, both with more than100 million unique visitors per month (ComScore, 2008). Thesewebsites are specifically known as friend-networking sites, inwhich the main purpose is to keep in contact with friends and fam-ily and make new friends.Facebook and MySpace include various communication featuresthat allow individuals to send public and private messages, postphotographs, blog, instant message (IM), and even play games.Individuals can search for other users by name or interests—andaccumulate friends by ‘‘friend requesting’’ other users. BothFacebook and MySpace are similar in that their focal point is theuser profile – a webpage that displays their personal information.While, they differ in some of their features, the present investiga-tion focused on more general features that both sites offer theirusers, such as those listed above. 1.2. Online social networking research Research on the psychological aspects of social networking useis emerging but still limited. A majority of the existing work hasfocused on aspects of self-presentation (Fogel & Nehmad, 2009;Kramer& Winter,2008;Manago,Graham,Greenfield,& Salimkhan,2008; Magnuson & Dundes, 2008; Tong, Van Der Heide, Langwell,& Walther, 2008). While there have been some peripheral 0747-5632/$ - see front matter Published by Elsevier Ltd.doi:10.1016/j.chb.2011.08.016 ⇑ Corresponding author. Address: Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, P.O. Box 870348, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0348, United States. Tel.: +1 407758 2003; fax: +1 205 348 8648. E-mail address: nlmuscanell@crimson.ua.edu(N.L. Muscanell).Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012) 107–112 Contents lists available atSciVerse ScienceDirect Computers in Human Behavior journal homepage:www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh  examinations of individual differences such as gender and person-ality, self-presentation has been the primary focus. For instance,one such study indicated extraverted (i.e., outgoing) individualspresent themselves in a less restrained manner on social network-ing sites (e.g., choosing to present photos with more experimentalcolors) compared to introverts (Kramer & Winter, 2008). Addition-ally, research including gender has found that women were morelikely than men to regularly change various aspects of their profilepages (Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008), present a social portrait of themselvesthat revolves aroundothers (i.e.,boyfriends;Magnuson& Dundes, 2008; Peluchette & Karl, 2008) and present less personalinformation (Fogel & Nehmad, 2009; Raacke & Bonds-Raacke,2008). Men, however, were more likely to display more risky pho-tos or information (e.g., comments or photos involving sex or alco-hol;Peluchette & Karl, 2008).Otherresearch has shown that individuals use information fromother peoples’ profile to make attributions about their personality(Walther, Van Der Heide, Kim, Westerman, & Tong, 2008). For in-stance, individuals with a moderate number of friends are ratedas more attractive than individuals with very high or low numbersof friends (Tong et al., 2008). Perceptions of individuals based ontheir profiles have also been shown to be quite accurate in reflect-ing their personality (Back, Schmukle, & Egloff, 2008; Back et al.,2010; Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). 1.3. Personality differences in online behavior  Psychological research acknowledges that the central aspects of personality can be described as a five-factor model (Big 5;Benet-Martinez & John, 1998; John et al., 1991, 2008). Accordingto the Big 5, personality consists of five main factors: extraversion,agreeableness, openness to new experience, conscientiousness,and neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Extraversion representsan individual’s level of sociability and outgoingness. Agreeablenessreflects the extent to which an individual engages in and endorsesinterpersonal cooperation. Openness reflects the extent to whichan individual is willing to explore new situations. Conscientious-ness reflects the extent to which an individual is organized, careful,and shows self-control. Finally, neuroticism reflects emotionalstability.These factors have been explored previously in relation to moti-vations for using the Internet. Research has shown that individualshigh neuroticism (particularly women;Amichai-Hamburger &Ben-Artzi, 2003; Bargh, McKenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002; Butt &Phillips, 2008; Guadagno, Okdie, & Eno, 2008), high in openness(Guadagno et al., 2008), low in extraversion (Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2003; Bargh et al., 2002), and low in agreeableness(Landers & Lounsbury, 2006; Peters & Malesky, 2008) may beparticularly likely to use the Internet for various activities. Addi-tionally, introverted and neurotic women were found to be lessanxious when communicating online (Rice & Markey, 2009).To our knowledge, only a few published studies have examinedindividualdifferencesand Facebookuse.Rosset al. (2009)exploredhow the Big 5 and competency and familiarity with technology(motivation to use computer-mediated communication: CMC) dif-ferentiated use of Facebook: individuals high in extraversion weremembers of more Facebook groups; individuals high in neuroti-cism used the wall (a public message board within the user profilethat displays status updates and messages from other users) forcommunication; and individuals high in openness to new experi-ences were more likely to use Facebook for socializing (e.g., send-ing messages). Finally, they found that those higher in CMCmotivation reported spending more time on Facebook and usingthe Facebook wall more often. Other recent research has comparedsocial networking site users to non-users in terms of individual dif-ferences. In an Australisan sample, Facebook users were found tobe more extraverted, narcissistic, and less conscientious, andlonely compared to non-users (Ryan & Xenos, 2011). Finally, otherresearch has also begun to explore a more specific individual dif-ference variable: jealousy (Elphinston & Noller, 2011; Muise,Christofides, & Desmarais, 2009; Muscanell, Guadagno, Rice, &Murphy, in preparation). Specifically, this emerging research indi-cates that Facebook may perpetuate or lead to jealousy in the con-texts of romantic relationships. Our research seeks to expand onthese individual differences in social networking, by examiningthe interaction between the five factor model and gender. 1.4. Gender differences in online behavior  In addition to the work cited above, there is also a substantivebody of literature examining gender differences in online settings.While research indicates that there is no gender difference in over-all amount of Internet use (Fallows, 2005, December), there aregender differences in motivations for Internet use and utilizationof time spent online. For example, women are more likely to usethe Internet to assuage social interaction and are also more likelyto engage in behavior consistent with feminine gender role normsthat promote relationship maintenance, while men are more likelyto spend their time online engaging in more task-focused activities(e.g., reading the news, getting financial information) and are morelikely to engage in behavior consistent with their gender role normthat promotes achievement-orientation (Guadagno & Cialdini,2002, 2005, 2007; Guadagno, Muscanell, Okdie, Burke, & Ward,2011; Lucas & Sherry, 2004; Weiser, 2000, 2001; Williams,Consalvo, Caplan, & Yee, 2009). This tendency for women to bemore focused on interpersonal communication online is alsoconsistent with research in face-to-face contexts. Based on genderrole expectations, women have traditionally been more focused onmaintaining relationships whereas men have traditionally beenmore task-focused (Eagly, 1987). Additionally, women are gener-ally more concerned with relational issues and directly discussingtheir relationships in order to maintain them as compared to men(Baxter & Wilmot, 1983).With regard to online social networking, there has been someinvestigation of gender differences in social networking use (Boyd,2007; Hargittai, 2008; Peluchette & Karl, 2008; Raacke &Bonds-Raacke, 2008). Such research has examined more generalcharacteristics of social networking users (including gender). Forinstance, a study byHargittai (2008)found that women were morelikely overall to use social networking sites and were specificallymore likely to use MySpace compared to men. Equal amounts of men and women were users of Facebook. Men were also foundto be more likely to use social networking sites for dating and tolearn about new events compared to women (Raacke &Bonds-Raacke, 2008). It appears then that gender differences foundin online behavior may apply specifically to social networkingsites, such that men and women use these sites, but for differentreasons. These reasons may relate to gender role expectations forbehavior indicating gender differences in relationship-orientation. 2. The present study  In summary, the research on individual differences – personal-ity and gender – in online behavior indicates that individual differ-ences can predict the extent to which individuals use the Internetfor various activities. Our examination focused solely on users of social networking sites. While previous research has found somesupport for the relationship between personality and social net-working (e.g.,Ross et al., 2009; Ryan & Xenos, 2011), our aimwas to predict specific social networking activities and reasonsfor use from both gender and personality. 108 N.L. Muscanell, R.E. Guadagno/Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012) 107–112   2.1. Predictions We expected to find that men’s and women’s use of social net-working sites would be consistent with previous research (Baxter& Wilmat, 1983; Guadagno & Cialdini, 2002, 2007; Guadagnoet al., 2011; Eagly, 1987; Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008) on genderdifferences in both online and offline contexts.1. Specifically, we predicted that women’s social networking usewould be more oriented towards relationship maintenancecompared to men.Based on prior research demonstrating personality differencesin online behavior, we expected personality to predict social net-working behavior (Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2003; Barghet al., 2002; Butt & Phillips, 2008; Guadagno et al., 2008;Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2000;Landers & Lounsbury, 2006; Peters& Malesky, 2008) and also based on the results of Ross et al.(2009)andRyan and Xenos (2011). 2. It was expected that extraversion would predict activities thatfacilitate social relationships (while not replacing social interac-tion), such as sharing photographs.3. Contrary to Ross et al., it was expected that within a larger sam-ple size, openness and agreeableness would influence socialnetworking site use.a. It was expected to find that openness would predict indi-viduals’ use of some of the more adventurous featureoffered by social networking sites (e.g., playing games,blogging).b. It was expected that highly agreeable individuals wouldengage more frequently in social networking activities thatwould allow them to be more sociable with others.4. Conscientiousness was expected to predict posting private ver-sus public information. Since highly conscientious individualsmay also be concerned with sharing public information, weexpected that these persons would less frequently engage inpublic exchange, and more frequently in private interaction.5. It was also expected that neuroticism would be related toengagement in posting of public information (blogs, photos,and comments). Based on previous research (Ross et al.,2009), we expected that highly neurotic individuals, who maybe concerned with information control (the ability to considercarefully and exchange appropriate self-relevant information)to post public wall comments more frequently and also moreblogs/notes, and that this would be particularly true for women(Guadagno et al., 2008).RQ1. Finally, we were interested in exploring the question of whether or not any of the personality measures would interactwith gender to predict social networking use.  2.2. Method 2.2.1. Participants Participants were 238 (135 men and 103 women) undergradu-ate psychology students who completed an online survey aboutsocial networking in order to fulfill a course requirement. Partici-pants’ mean age was 19 ( SD = 2.33). Ethnicity was self-reported:88.2% Caucasian, 7.3% African American, 1.6% Asian, 1.2% Hispanic,0.4% Native American, and 1.2% other ethnicity. The majority of participants (96.7%) indicated that they were current members of at least one online social networking site. Of these individuals,63.9% reported using solely Facebook, 1.3% reported using solelyMySpace, and 34.5% reported using both Facebook and MySpace.Participants who inaccurately reported their gender or did not re-port being members of a social networking site were excludedfrom our data analysis. Procedure. Participants completed an online survey andwere informed that the purpose of the study was to assess individ-ual opinions and experiences with online social networking sites. Measures. Participants completed a 50-item survey assess-ing demographic information and information on participants’ useof online social networking sites (‘‘  Approximately how much time do you spend on online social networking sites ?’’; ‘‘ What reasons do youuse online social networking sites for? ’’; and ‘‘ What types of activitiesdo you engage in when you use online social networking sites? ’’). Thelatter questions covered topics ranging from the specific social net-working sites used to specific details on social networking behav-iors and activities. Example questions included: ‘‘ How often do yousend/post public messages? ’’, ‘‘ How often do you send private mes-sages? ’’, ‘‘ How often do you post notes/blogs ?’’ and ‘‘ How often do you send friend requests? ’’. With regard to activities engaged inwe assessed the approximate frequency of engagement in thoseactivities on a scale of 1 ( not very often) to 7 ( very often) . The surveyin its entirety is available in theAppendix. Additionally partici-pants completed the Big Five Inventory (BFI), a self-report inven-tory (44 items) designed to measure the Big Five dimensionsincluding neuroticism, extraversion, openness to new experience,agreeableness, and conscientiousness (Benet-Martinez & John,1998; John et al., 1991, 2008). 3. Results  3.1. Overview of the data analysis Eachof the Big 5 subscalesproduced acceptable reliabilities (seeTable 1). Additionally, both men and women tended to fall near themiddle of the scale for each of the subscales, with the exception of neuroticism, which had slightly lower scores. Overall, these scoresare comparable to previous research on personality for the typicalcollege student age range (Srivastava, John, Gosling, & Potter,2003). Please seeTable 1for means and standard deviations for each of the five subscales.We conducted a series of logistic regression analyses in order toexamine whether gender and personality predicted the use of so-cial networking sites and reasons for using social networking sites.We then conducted a series of linear regression analyses to predictwhether gender and personality predicted the frequency of theseactivities on social networking sites. In all cases, we entered genderas a dichotomous predictor, the Big 5 subscale as a centered con-tinuous predictor, and a gender by subscale interaction term (seeAiken & West, 1991).  3.1.1. Gender differences in social networking  Our analyses revealed a number of gender differences in rea-sons for using social networking sites. Specifically, our analysesrevealed that as compared to women, men were more likely touse social networking sites to find potential dates, b = À 1.85, se b = .64, Wald (1, df) = 8.47, p = .004, to network for careers, b = .93, se b = .44, Wald (1, df) = 4.53, p = .03, and to make friends, b = À .62, se b = .28, Wald (1, df) = 5.03, p = .03. In terms of how oftenindividuals engaged in specific behavior, gender was a significantpredictor of playing games indicating that men were more likelyto report playing games more often than women, b (173) = .55, t  (173) = 2.13, p = .03.Women, on the other hand, reported more frequently postingpublic messages (messages viewable by both the profile owner N.L. Muscanell, R.E. Guadagno/Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012) 107–112 109  and other Facebook users), b (173) = À .58, t  (173) = À 2.33, p = .02,posting photographs, b (173) = À 1.22, t  (173) = À 5.14, p < .001,sending private messages, b (173) = À .62, t  (173) = À 2.15, p = .03,and sending friend requests, b (173) = À .74, t  (173) = À 2.98,  p = .003 compared to men. Personality differences in social networking. Individuals highin extraversion were more likely to report posting photographs, b (237) = .05, t  (237) = 3.47, p = .001. Additionally, individuals highin conscientiousness were more likely to report sending privatemessages, b (237) = .03, t  (237) = 1.97, p = .05. Interactions between gender and personality. There was asignificant gender by agreeableness interaction on posting blogentries, b (234) = À .65, t  (234) = À 2.51, p = .01 (seeFig. 1). Simpleeffects demonstrated that agreeableness did not predict frequencyof blog postings for women, t  (99) < 2.0, ns. but did for men. Specif-ically, men who were low in agreeableness posted blog entriesmore often than men who were high in agreeableness, b (131) =.99, t  (131) = 1.97, p = .002. There was a similar gender by agree-ableness interaction on how often individuals engage in IM, b (234) = .09, t  (234) = 2.39 p = .02 (seeFig. 2). Simple effects indi-cated that agreeableness was not a significant predictor of frequency of instant messaging for men t  (131) < 2.0, n.s. However,gender was a significant predictor of instant messaging for women, b (99) = À .94, t  (99) = À 1.99, p = .05. Specifically, women low inagreeableness reported engaging in IM more often than womenwho were high in agreeableness.Finally, there was a significant gender by openness to newexperience interaction on how often individuals play social net-working games, b (234) = .69, t  (234) = 2.58, p = .01 (seeFig. 3). Sim-ple effects indicated that openness was not a significant predictorof playing games for women, t  (103) < 2, ns. However, men low inopenness to new experience reported playing games on social net-working sites more often than men who were high in openness tonew experiences, b (131) = 1.26, t  (131) = 3.41, p = .001. 4. Discussion Consistent with our overall predictions, the results demon-strated that both gender and personality are related to both indi-viduals’ reasons for using social networking sites and theirengagement in specific activities within these sites. Predictionswere supported in that gender predicted individuals’ social net-working use such that women were more oriented towards activ-ities that facilitate relationship maintenance compared to men. Itwas also found that men were more likely than women to reportusing social networking sites for networking, making new friends,and finding potential dates. This suggests that men may use socialnetworking sites more for forming new relationships compared to High WomenMen Fig. 1. Gender by agreeableness predicting the frequency of posting blogs. 3.83.944. High WomenMen Fig. 3. Gender by openness predicting the frequency of playing games.  Table 1 Big Five Inventory means and standard deviations ( N  = 238). Men ( n = 135) Women ( n = 103) Overall M SD M SD M SD Extraversion, a = .86 3.72 1.28 4.25 1.42 3.97 1.36Agreeableness, a = .83 4.48 1.04 4.96 1.13 4.71 1.11Conscientiousness, a = .81 4.13 1.17 4.58 1.02 4.34 1.12Openness, a = .84 4.62 1.18 4.01 1.09 3.83 1.16Neuroticism, a = .79 2.07 1.26 2.67 1.44 2.35 1.3 Note : Items were measured on a scale of 1 ( strongly disagree) to 7 ( strongly agree ). High WomenMen Fig. 2. Gender by agreeableness predicting the frequency of live chat/instantmessaging.110 N.L. Muscanell, R.E. Guadagno/Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012) 107–112
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