Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings

Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University , Raleigh, North Carolina.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (Impact Factor: 2.18). 06/2013; DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0163
Source: PubMed


Job applicants and incumbents often use social media for personal communications allowing for direct observation of their social communications "unfiltered" for employer consumption. As such, these data offer a glimpse of employees in settings free from the impression management pressures present during evaluations conducted for applicant screening and research purposes. This study investigated whether job applicants' (N=175) personality characteristics are reflected in the content of their social media postings. Participant self-reported social media content related to (a) photos and text-based references to alcohol and drug use and (b) criticisms of superiors and peers (so-called "badmouthing" behavior) were compared to traditional personality assessments. Results indicated that extraverted candidates were prone to postings related to alcohol and drugs. Those low in agreeableness were particularly likely to engage in online badmouthing behaviors. Evidence concerning the relationships between conscientiousness and the outcomes of interest was mixed.

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    • "Conscientiousness describes people who are organized, responsible , and hard-working. They tend to use Facebook less frequently than people who are lower in conscientiousness (Gosling et al., 2011), but when they do use it, conscientious individuals are diligent and discreet: they have more Facebook friends (Amichai- Hamburger & Vinitzky, 2010), they avoid badmouthing people (Stoughton et al., 2013), and they are less likely to post on Facebook to seek attention or acceptance (Seidman, 2013). Thus, we predicted that conscientiousness would be positively associated with updating about inoffensive, ''safe'' topics (i.e., social activities and everyday life), which would be mediated by the lower tendency of using Facebook for validation (Hypothesis 5). "
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