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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Jun;12(3):347-50. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0165.

Extrapolating psychological insights from Facebook profiles: a study of religion and relationship status.

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Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Online social network users may leave creative, subtle cues on their public profiles to communicate their motivations and interests to other network participants. This paper explores whether psychological predictions can be made about the motivations of social network users by identifying and analyzing these cues. Focusing on the domain of relationship seeking, we predicted that people using social networks for dating would reveal that they have a single relationship status as a method of eliciting contact from potential romantic others. Based on results from a pilot study (n = 20) supporting this hypothesis, we predicted that people attempting to attract users of the same religious background would report a religious affiliation along with a single relationship status. Using observational data from 150 Facebook profiles, results from a multivariate logistic regression suggest that people providing a religious affiliation were more likely to list themselves as single (a proxy for their interest in using the network to find romantic partners) than people who do not provide religious information. We discuss the implications for extracting psychological information from Facebook profiles. To our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest that information from publicly available online social networking profiles can be used to predict people's motivations for using social networks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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