What are they blogging about? Personality, topic and motivation in blogs

author: Alastair J. Gill, Center for Technology and Social Behavior, Northwestern University
published: June 24, 2009,   recorded: May 2009,   views: 4266

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Personal weblogs (blogs), provide individuals with the opportunity to write freely and express themselves online in the presence of others. In such situations, what do bloggers write about, and what are their motivations for blogging? Using a large blog corpus annotated with the LIWC text analysis program, we examine the content of blogs to provide insight into the role of personality in motivation for blogging. As predicted, we find that highly Neurotic authors use blogs to serve a cathartic or auto-therapeutic function, and reflect mainly upon themselves and negative emotions. Highly Extraverted blog authors, as expected, use blogs to document their lives at a high level, and uniquely interact directly with the reader. Additionally Extraverts use blogs to vent both positive and negative emotions. Bloggers who are high scorers on the Openness trait are more concerned with leisure activities, although they are more evaluative than intellectual, whereas high Conscientiousness bloggers tend to report daily life – and work – around them. As in other contexts, expressing positive rather than negative emotions is associated with high Agreeableness, but that trait is associated with self reference to a greater degree in blogs than elsewhere. In general, findings are consistent with other contexts indicating that bloggers tend to adapt to the possibilities of the medium, rather than try to present themselves differently

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