February 21, 2012
Facebook could become the newest tool to help discern which individuals are more likely to find success in college and on the job, a recent study showed. In fact, the study reveals that Facebook might be more reliable in predicting such college and career success than the personality questionnaires that have traditionally been used by human resource departments.
"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," Peter Rosen, an associate professor at Auburn University and one of the researchers, told 14 WFIE.
The study called "Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye?" was published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Study co-authors are Donald Kluemper, of Northern Illinois University, and Kevin Mossholder of Auburn University.
For the study, the researchers had 274 employed college students fill out a personality survey, often used by companies, to evaluate five important traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, emotional stability and openness, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Then three raters--one university professor and two students--spent five to 10 minutes perusing the Facebook profiles of those working students and answered questions similar to those posed on the questionnaire for each. Such questions included: "Is this person the life of the party?" and "Is this person dependable?" Researchers then calculated two personality scores per subject: one based on the employees' questionnaire responses and the other on the raters' responses.
"Based upon other studies, we were able to conclude that after a five-minute perusal of a Facebook page, raters were able to answer questions regarding the subject about as reliably as would be expected of a significant other or close friend," Kluemper told NIU Today.
Six months later, researchers conducted a second component of the study using 69 of the students in the original group who were still employed. They then matched employee evaluations from these students supervisors' to both sets of ratings obtained earlier.
As it turned out, the ratings obtained from looking at Facebook profiles provided a more accurate predictor of future job performance than the scores from the self-evaluation questionnaire, the study showed. Additionally, the Facebook scores were actually a better predictor of future academic success (based on grade point averages) than personality and IQ scores combined. The study findings showed Facebook could be used as a job applicant-screening tool, but, first, additional research and resolution of related legal issue would be needed, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"Before it can be used as a legally defensible screening tool, it has to be proven valid," Kluemper said in NIU Today. "This research is just a first step in that direction."
Compiled by Doresa Banning
"Facebook and Job Performance," articles.chicagotribune.com, February 19, 2012, Rex Huppke
"Facebook Beats Personality Tests for Predicting Job Success, NIU Management Professor Finds," niutoday.info, February 20, 2012, Joe King
"Facebook Profiles Found to Predict Job Performance," online.wsj.com, February 21, 2012, Leslie Kwoh
"Local Prof Says Facebook Reveals More Than You Think About Users," 14news.com, February 17, 2012, Brad Conaway