Researchers Claim to Predict Personal Attributes Based on Facebook Likes

It might seem like there’s no rhyme or reason to the things people “Like” on Facebook, but a recent study from researchers at the University of Cambridge claims to detect a method in the madness. By studying the Facebook Likes of 58,000 volunteers for things such as photos, status updates, and interests such as sports, movies, and books, researchers were able to predict  a person’s personal attributes with an accuracy rate of more than 80%.

After comparing the demographic profiles and psychometric tests of the volunteers with their predictions, researchers found they correctly predicted users’ sexual orientation 88% of time, ethnicity 95% of the time, and political affiliation 85% of the time. The study also claims that Facebook Likes can be used to predict such things as intelligence, happiness, drug use, and even whether a person’s parents are separated.

While some of the predictions are fairly obvious (a liberal person liking a post related to President Obama, for example), others are less so. Apparently, the best signs of a person with high intelligence are Likes for thunderstorms, science, the Colbert Report, and curly fries. Who knew? While there’s some obvious concerns suggested by this study, such as companies mining a user’s repository of Likes to gain information on them, the truth is that most Facebook users are hardly shy of hiding who they are and much of this data could be gained by a glance at their profile page.

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