Anyone involved in recruitment in Malta trails the internet in search for clues about their candidates, with the hope of making a more informed decision. Some manage to scoop out articles from online news or information from law enforcement sites however most trawl social networks in search of often confusing pieces of information. With over 1 billion users, Facebook is a favourite destination. However, what does one make out of pictures?

According to research Facebook "likes", rather than pictures, are a strong predictor of race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use and political views.

Last month a study by Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell and Thore Grapel of more than 58,000 Facebook users, entitled “Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior” revealed some interesting correlations between the user’s Facebook “likes” and number of personal traits and preferences. By examining a user’s likes, researchers could determine the user’s gender in 93% of the instances examined, while male sexuality could be correctly predicted in 88% of the instances. Relationship status and substance abuse could be correctly predicted between 65% and 73% of the instances examined. A summary of the personality traits can be found here.

However the most impressive aspect of this study is the correlation Facebook "likes" have with personality traits and intelligence. With a correlation of 0.78 for intelligence and 0.75 for extraversion the analysis of Facebook "likes" is roughly as informative as an individual’s IQ test or personality assessment score.

So next time you are scrutinising the Facebook profile of a prospective employee that has likes for Prada or Athesim, you can assume with a high level of certainty that he or she is more competitive than the general population.

The full research can be found by clicking here.

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