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Facebook Profiles Reveal Gender Norms, Study Reports

Update Date: Oct 05, 2013 09:24 AM EDT
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Even though each Facebook profile might appear different from one another, a new study is reporting that these profiles are actually pretty much the same. According to this study, researchers were able to predict people's profiles based on gender norms. They concluded that even on social media, men and women are pretty much stereotypical.

In this study, the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania examined the type of language users used on their Facebook statuses. The team wanted to see if they could accurately predict the users' age, gender and personality traits. The researchers looked at more than 75,000 profiles. The team also gave users a questionnaire asking about their personality traits. The researchers discovered that even without the help of traditional tools, such as the self-reports, they were able to predict the type of user behind the status with 92 percent accuracy.  

When the researchers analyzed each status, they found that women tended to use certain words such as, "mommy," "boyfriend" and "best friend." Aside from these very stereotypical words, women also used "soo," "yummy," and super excited" more frequently. For men, their preferred words included "Xbox," "World Cup" Chuck Norris" and "epic." Men were also more likely to drop the F-word in their statuses.

"It doesn't mean that this is how all women talk, or even the majority of how all women talk," researcher, Dr. Margaret Kern said reported by TIME. "It just means that words like this are more likely to be used by a woman than a man in this sample."

Even if men and women do not use these words as frequently in everyday conversation, they tend to choose these very stereotypical words in social media. The researchers explained that on social media platforms, genders roles might be exaggerated because people are trying to create an image for themselves. By stating that they like certain things associated with their gender, they might come off as more fun and beautiful so that people will like them.

"There's certainly this image-management aspect to everything, even who posts anything," she said. "But even if that's an image, that's how all your friends start to see you. So in a way, that can become part of a person as well"

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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