Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin: are the profiles in social networks real?

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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wikipedia.org

There has been a lot of talk (and certainly will continue to talk) about social networks and individual profiles contained in the latter. Currently there are about 700 million people around the world who have entered their profile in networks such as: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace. In the US alone, 75% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 have a personal profile in one or more of these social networks. In the last four years alone, the number of adults using social networks has quadrupled. But ... these profiles that we meet online show us the real person behind them or do they offer us an idealized, and therefore false, image of his personality? To answer this question, a group of psychologists recruited 236 German students who used social networks on a daily basis. They had to complete a personality test aimed at evaluating the Five Main Personalological Traits (extroversion, neurosis, openness to new experiences, awareness or sense of responsibility, and amiability). Their ideal personalities were then evaluated, that is, how these young people would have liked to be. Later, another group of observers were asked to examine the profiles of these people on the net, and to evaluate the personality characteristics that these profiles projected. After analyzing all the results, the researchers came to the conclusion that people tend to show themselves even in social networks exactly as they are in reality, without attempting to "adorn" their personological characteristics. This study, according to some claim, would erase the myth according to which the network is full of profiles that show recreated personalities or worse still, totally idealized or false. However, I personally believe that these data should be subject to a more thorough analysis, and not to draw hasty and generalized conclusions. It is so much more useful, in my opinion, to leave the conclusions open, and perhaps take a look at a study carried out by the University of Cornell, whose goal was to evaluate whether all the photographs uploaded online to the various dating sites really correspond. to the person behind it. Hancock and Toma, the two principal investigators, speculate that two factors need to be assessed: the desire to be attractive and the need to be authentic. So it is a bit risky to think that people would post photos other than their own, but… maybe they could lie a little in the quality of the images themselves. In this way, a sample of 54 people who had inserted their photo in some online profiles was analyzed. The first discovery was that there was a difference between precision in self-perception and the perception of others. Respondents considered their photos to be well-curated and to reflect reality (an average of 4,46 points on a scale of 5) however, things changed when they had to evaluate the correspondence between reality and other people's profile photos. . Normally they judged that the photos matched little or no to the person's true appearance. In this way, people showed an unconscious tendency to carry out some kind of self-marketing. But ... what were the substantial differences that were observed in the photos? - Relating to physical characteristics (age, weight, height, hair color ...) - Related to photographic retouching. Here we could observe two fundamental strategies: people resorted to a professional photographer who manipulated the photos to highlight the best sides of the person or they simply resorted to photoshop themselves, retouching their images independently. This study found that the vast majority of profiles posted on online dating sites show at least one discrepancy and, as is easy to assume; the photos of women contain three times more inaccuracies than those of men. Almost half of the photos of women (48,1%) are considered by an outside observer as not real. What is the most commonly used makeup? Submit an old photo where the person appears younger than they currently are. Women on average use photos that are at least 17 months old, while men do not go beyond six months. Probably the most curious aspect of the whole thing is that; while men realize the discrepancy between the real image and that of the photo, when it is pointed out to them, women seem not to be aware of the obvious inconsistencies. The researchers conclude that women generally have a tendency to lie to themselves in an attempt to see themselves as more attractive. In short, women would act unconsciously without bad intentions and unconsciously. Can you believe it? Thus, it is observed that the majority (not all), lie in some respect with the intention (conscious or not) to be more desirable and increase the possibility of meeting a partner. There are even some blogs that include a totally invented profile that fits in with the content of the site (this information is not backed up by any study but I'm sure many of you will agree with my consideration). So ... why do people lie in some profiles while in others they are true to reality? The answer is very simple: the reasons are different. Generally, people begin their journey on the net starting from social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, contacting and sharing information with their real-world friends, which is why it is not possible to lie or idealize personological traits other than reality, they would be immediately disavowed. . These networks aim to contact and share information with people we know in real life, to find old friends lost along the way and also to make new friends. There is no reason to lie. Something different happens when we know that a large part of the chances of success depend on our profile on the net. Then some may find themselves "stimulated" by the desire to "hide" some of the personological characteristics that they consider negative, or may even go so far as to deliberately lie about professional training or other important details. This often happens with some of the profiles you come across on online dating sites, job search sites or some blogs. In summary, the network is as varied and complex as the real world precisely because behind each computer there is a real and unique person, with his or her desires, expectations and interests.



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