Arts & Sciences

What your ‘likes,’ posts really say about you

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have created the Social Media Use Scale, which groups social media use into four broad categories and offers insights about personality and behavior traits. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The myriad ways in which we use social media can be grouped into four broad categories, each of which is associated with a cluster of specific personality and behavioral traits, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Social media is here to stay, so clarifying how people use social media and raising awareness of these findings are crucial first steps toward ultimately helping people understand how they can avoid the negative aspects of social networking and engage in healthier social media usage,” said Alison B. Tuck, first author of the study and a PhD candidate in clinical psychology in Arts & Sciences.

The study, published online May 25 in the journal Assessment, offers a new empirically tested model for understanding how our use of social media is associated with a complex web of social desires and emotional concerns.

“Because of these inconsistent findings, experts have been advocating for research to examine social media use in a more nuanced way. We conducted a series of research studies to figure out what its structure may look like,” said co-author Renee J. Thompson, PhD, an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of the Emotion and Mental Health Lab.

Their scale assesses the frequency with which people engage in each of the four types of social media use.

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