In Nicole Kramer and Stephan Winter’s Impression Management 2.0, they assess three personality traits that have been shown to influence how people present themself online.
This research study begins by discussing how people can appear in the media and how they may broadcast themselves to the world. Social networking sites allow users to have control over their self-presentation and individuals have the power to choose what information others can gather about them. The goal of this specific study was to analyze the relationship between offline personality and online self-description. Specifically, what information do people seem to reveal in their profiles vs. the information they choose to share in a face-to-face setting? The three main personality traits that are focused on in this study are self-esteem, extraversion, and self-efficacy. From these traits, three main research questions were raised: is the form of self-esteem presentation in a Web 2.0 platform related to the personality aspect of extraversion? Does the form of self-presentation differ between users with high and low self-esteem? And, is self-efficacy of self-presentation in social situations related to the specific form of online self-presentation?
To carry out this study, a German website platform called StudiVZ was used which was created to be a student community. The main elements of a profile include a photo of the user, date of birth, hometown, favorite film/music, books, and any job/career. 150 randomly selected members of this site were invited to participate in a survey to assess the three main traits mentioned above. Only 58 out of these 150 responded and their responses were recorded. For the first research question, it was found that there was a positive relationship between extraversion and a more “experimental” profile picture. For the majority of other features, there were no significant results. For the second research question, it was found that self-esteem was not related to the specific use of StudiVZ and the profile style. For the third question, there were significant effects of self-efficacy on the number of friends one had on the site. As self-efficacy increased, so did the number of friends.
Conclusively, this study had a very limited sample representing a small number of people from a certain demographic. Though there were some positive correlations, a larger, more diverse sample could reflect better results for the future. This study was very interesting and I am curious to see what other traits may be affected by one’s online social presence.