Local Prof says Facebook reveals more than you think about users

Published: Feb. 17, 2012 at 4:28 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2012 at 4:28 PM CST
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Can Facebook be used to predict academic success and job performance?

That's the question posed by Peter A. Rosen, associate professor of management information systems in the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration at the University of Evansville. Along with co-authors Donald H. Kluemper of the Department of Management at Northern Illinois University and Kevin W. Mossholder in the Department of Management at Auburn University, Rosen published "Social networking websites, personality ratings, and the organizational context: More than meets the eye?" in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

"A rapid expansion of social media over the past decade has resulted in the use of social networking websites beyond their initial purpose," Rosen said. "University administrators and hiring managers have begun to view this technology to evaluate students and employees, despite controversial legal issues associated with this practice."

"Our research provides evidence from two studies that Facebook can be used by trained evaluators to reliably assess various personality traits, traits shown in existing literature to predict academic and job success and to be legally defensible for selection purposes," Rosen added.

Study 1 included 274 Facebook users. Results conclude that Facebook-rated personality 1) correlates with traditional self-reported personality, 2) demonstrates internal consistency and inter-rater reliability for personality and hirability, 3) correlates with evaluator preferences to hire the Facebook user, and 4) correlates with supervisor ratings of job performance for a sub-sample of Facebook users who were employed.

Study 2 included 244 college students. Results conclude that Facebook-rated personality 1) correlates with traditional self-reported personality tests, 2) demonstrates internal consistency and inter-rater reliability, 3) is stronger than self-reported personality and IQ in predicting academic success, and 4) provides incremental prediction of academic performance beyond what was obtained from self-rated personality and intelligence tests combined.

Taken together, these studies provide initial evidence that information available on Facebook can be used to identify individuals who are more successful in college and on the job.

"Although further study is needed," Rosen said, "perhaps when viewing applicant social networking profiles, there is more to it than meets the eye."

The full article is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00881.x/abstract.

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