Anyone who has dipped a toe in the Internet dating pool knows that occasionally the social network profile doesn't quite match up with the physical person.
But a study recently published in Psychological Science (registration required) concludes that, in general, a person's online profile is an honest refection of the owner rather than hype or half-truths.
I was surprised by the findings because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves...These findings suggest that online social networks are not so much about providing positive spin for the profile owners. But are instead just another medium for engaging in genuine social interactions, much like the telephone.
The study compared 236 profiles of college-aged people on Facebook and on two German social networking services. The researchers used questionnaires to assess the profile owner's actual personality characteristics, as well as their ideal personality traits (or how they wished to be seen). The results showed the online social network profiles were accurate and were not affected by particpants' self-idealization.
Via Booster Shots