After conducting various personality and intelligence tests on 58,000 Facebook users in the United States, a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge and Microsoft concluded that Facebook "likes" often correlated with the intellectual quotient (IQ), extraversion and seriousness of the users.
The results of this study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and constitute further evidence of how our behaviour on the Internet can reveal aspects of us that may go unnoticed even by ourselves.
Mozart and thunderstorms
A "like" represents a very generic class of digital records, similar to the web search, browsing histories and credit card purchases. Observing the users’ music-related likes provides information similar to the one you can get by data of songs heard online or songs and artists searched through a web search engine.
One of the most interesting correlations between IQ and "likes" is that users who press this button on chips and thunderstorms Facebook pages have the highest IQ, as well as those who like Mozart.
However, people with a lower IQ tend to like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the country music group Lady Antebellum or an "I love being a mom" page.
The study suggests to what extent the relatively basic digital records of human behaviour can be used to automatically and accurately estimate a wide range of personal attributes that people tend to assume as private.
For that reason, polls are not as reliable as big data when it comes to telling us the truth about our private lives.
Even our most intimate feelings can emerge on social networks, as Patrick Baylis of the Vancouver School of Economics and Nick Obradovich of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated in a study published in the journal Plos One.
For the aforementioned study, they collected 2,400 million Facebook messages and 1,100 million Twitter messages between 2009 and 2016, identifying various correlations between the messages and the weather. For example, days with a humidity level of 80% or higher were related to negative expressions, as were days with a large number of clouds.
However, it should be noted that correlations are not causal links. Some people with high IQ may indicate with a "like" that they feel a predilection for a certain book or magazine, but that does not necessarily mean that the smartest people prefer these publications. Many users could “like” certain things just to pretend they are something they are not. After all, social networks are also exhibitors of our ego, of what we aspire to be and, above all, how we want others to see us.