[Guadagno, R. E. et al., Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging, Computers in Human Behavior (2007), doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.001]
“Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging” is a psychological study using college students as subjects to define personality traits predicting blog authorship. Guadagno, Okdie and Eno say in their introduction that the anonymous nature of the Internet has decreased and the personalization increased, blogs being at the “forefront” of this shift. Defining blogs as a means of “self-presentation” and “self-expression,” they ask: Are there defining personality characteristics that differentiate bloggers from non-bloggers? The psychologists used the Big Five personality inventory, which measures personality based on five traits. Openness to New Experience and Neuroticism predict blogging, according to this study.
The author’s findings seem to perfectly describe the underlying motives of personal-style bloggers, sometimes revealed in the tone of their words or photos. For example, Openness to New Experience is embodied in an individual who is imaginative, curious, artistically talented, intelligent and who has diverse interests. “Blogging is a form of self-expression as well as a form of online behavior so it stands to reason that creative individuals who are willing to try new things are likely to blog.” To create a new world in a geographically vacant digitized landscape requires some creativity and some aspiration towards what the individual wishes people could hear or see. This suggests a darker side to the bloggers personality, one that is self-indulgent and insecure: Neuroticism. The authors suggest that “individuals who are high in neuroticism, characterized by anxiety, worry, emotional reactivity, and nervousness may blog to assuage loneliness or in an attempt to reach out and form social connections with others.”
There is a blatant gender separation in the authors’ analysis. They say women are more likely than men to fall into Neuroticism when connected with the Internet, the use of which is fueled by loneliness. Men, they say, seek social networks outside of the Internet while women tend to participate in the more socially isolated form of communication, blogging. I find it, then, surprising that two of the authors are female when their choice of words is so demeaning to [what they find is] a woman’s natural disposition. Furthermore, the authors’ choice of participants lacked the breadth to adequately define the character and motives for beginning a personal blog. I wonder, too, do all bloggers concerned with personal style use the medium as a means for self-promotion, born of an exigency of social behavior? Or do some people find it merely another fun, creative outlet through which to test and record their daily inventions?
The authors are psychologists from the University of Alabama who conducted their study on two different groups of college students. They were prompted to investigate blogging and Internet usage because of the medium’s increasing and lasting presence in peoples’ everyday lives. They find great opportunity in examining the social significance and consequences of such a new and as yet little explored phenomenon, perhaps beginning a new conversation entirely. The study focuses only on American Internet users—a notable constraint since the very nature of the Internet allows for building international connections. Furthermore, this study only compared the Big Five personality characteristics with blogging, which greatly simplifies the individual whose true character and motives are much more nuanced. The authors suggest, in parting, directions to further this ongoing and ever-evolving conversation such as—specifically—why people blog and what they are blogging about.