People who are honest about their life on Facebook are happier than those who fake it

People who are honest about their appearance and lifestyle on Facebook are happier than those who pretend to be someone they’re not, study finds

  • More than 10,000 people were quizzed on personality and social media habits 
  • Scientists found people who portray a genuine image have better wellbeing 
  • Regardless of what sort of person you are, being true to yourself on social media is linked to improved happiness  

Lying about yourself on social media can make you unhappy and impact on your wellbeing, according to new research.

Research from Columbia University found people who are true to themselves and provide an accurate portrayal on social media are happier. 

The findings are based on an analysis of data from 10,560 Facebook members over six years between 2007 and 2012.  

Lying about yourself on social media can make you unhappy and impact on your wellbeing, according to new research (file photo)

Lying about yourself on social media can make you unhappy and impact on your wellbeing, according to new research (file photo)

Corresponding author Erica Bailey, a PhD student at Columbia University, New York, said: ‘There may be psychological benefits associated with being authentic.’ 

The findings apply to all people, regardless of personality type.

Almost eight in ten Americans and two in three Britons use social media – most on a daily basis.

Participants completed a series of tests to measure their personality traits including extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Ms Bailey’s team then compared each volunteer to a computer prediction of their personality based on their own social media.

This was based on their likes and the language used in their status updates on Facebook.

They found those whose real-life personality traits best matched those they exhibited on social media had higher levels of life satisfaction. 

Ms Bailey said: ‘Social media can seem like an artificial world in which people’s lives consist entirely of exotic vacations, thriving friendships and photogenic, healthy meals.

‘In fact, there is an entire industry built around people’s desire to present idealistic self-representations on social media.

‘Popular applications like FaceTune, for example, allow users to modify everything about themselves, from skin tone to the size of their physical features.

‘In line with this “self-idealisation perspective”, research has shown self-expressions on social media platforms are often idealised, exaggerated and unrealistic.

‘That is, social media users often act as virtual curators of their online selves by staging or editing content they present to others.’ 

The findings were published in prestigious journal Nature Communications.


The ‘Big Five’ personality traits are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The Big Five personality framework theory uses these descriptors to outline the broad dimensions of people’s personality and psyche.

Beneath each broad category is a number of correlated and specific factors.

Here are the five main points: 

Openness – this is about having an appreciation for emotion, adventure and unusual ideas.

People who are generally open have a higher degree of intellectual curiosity and creativity.

They are also more unpredictable and likely to be involved in risky behaviour such as drug taking.

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Conscientiousness – people who are conscientiousness are more likely to be organised and dependable.

These people are self-disciplined and act dutifully, preferring planned as opposed to spontaneous behaviour.

They can sometimes be stubborn and obsessive.

Extroversion – these people tend to seek stimulation in the company of others and are energetic, positive and assertive.

They can sometimes be attention-seeking and domineering.

Individuals with lower extroversion are reserved, and can be seen as aloof or self-absorbed.

Agreeableness – these individuals have a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative as opposed to antagonistic towards other people.

Sometimes people who are highly agreeable are seen as naive or submissive.

People who have lower levels of agreeableness are competitive or challenging.

Neuroticisim – People with high levels of neuroticism are prone to psychological stress and get angry, anxious and depressed easily.

More stable people are calmer but can sometimes be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned.

Individuals with higher neuroticism tend to have worse psychological well-being.



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