The appeal of genre is that it brings an astounding diversity of people together over something they all find a way to love, to share, to argue about, and to defend. But as broad a background as fans of all stripes hail from, Facebook has attempted, through its data mining algorithms, to reach some generalized conclusions about the personality traits it believes a lot fans may have in common.
As part of the social network’s larger data mining process; one that’s drawn a much more serious sort of recent attention from political watchers, Facebook’s myPersonality app and its associated quiz assayed the personality traits of people who casually used the service as a way to talk about the things they like: sports, movies, music, games, celebrities, and so on.
In the process, reports The New York Times, quiz-takers who permitted the service to link their results with their Facebook profiles “allowed researchers to cross-reference the results of the quiz…with the users’ Facebook ‘likes,’ and build a model from the correlations they found between the two.”
The results paint any number of generalized pictures; the kind that associate fans of manga comics, anime, and video games with being introverts, and invite other associations. For example, fans of goth metal and industrial bands like Rammstein and Marilyn Manson, the data says, have the “least agreeable” dispositions while being the “most neurotic.” Similarly, people who like Salvador Dali and A Clockwork Orange are more open-minded than people who like country musicians like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.
All these conclusions are based on Facebook's use of a university-developed personality assessment that attempts to gauge an individual’s openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (or, in academic parlance, their OCEAN score).
So what, pray tell, could gamers and anime fans talk about on Facebook if they wanted to persuade the data bots they aren’t, after all, introverted? The music of Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane, among others. Those artists, along with DJ Pauly D, reality star JWoww and the Michael Kors brand (we promise we aren’t making this up) drew the strongest algorithmic connections between fandom and an outgoing personality.
Hey, we all love to generalize. It makes for interesting debate fodder and helps us see the many exceptions that upend all our stereotypes and preconceptions. What’s interesting, though, is the way in which Facebook’s results suggest that stereotyping may not be unique to human nature only, but — for lack of a better term — computer nature, as well.
After all, we’re pretty sure that, somewhere out there, there’s a Luke Bryan-listenin’, Michael Kors wearin’ manga fan (or twenty) who also happens to be addicted to Japanese role playing games and makes a sacred annual pilgrimage through A Clockwork Orange. Just don’t try telling that to Facebook's robots.