Facebook Study Details “Mr & Mrs Average”
A new study from Wolfram Alpha, who carries out personal analytics, has shown how men and women exhibit an interest in new things as they get older, with the divide between the sexes showing that interests in certain things peak at different times, according to what gender you are.
The research used anonymous Facebook data collected from users of the social network who agreed to participate. In order to look at interests, the study recorded likes and interests posted on their profile.
The UK-based scientist who carried out the research said: “It’s almost shocking how much this tells us about the evolution of people’s typical interests.”
“People talk less about video games as they get older, and more about politics.”
“Men typically talk more about sports and technology than women – and, somewhat surprisingly to me, they also talk more about movies, television and music.”
Genders not in sync with each other
According to the study, women tend to think about exercise seriously at around the age of 34, whilst men leave thoughts of getting healthy until the age of 45.
The only thing that men and women care about at the same age was found to be fashion at around aged 16 years. Women who read may find that their interest in books has peaked at age 22, whilst men don’t really get into literature until they are in their 50s.
The study is an interesting insight into changes in social behaviour and it’s thought that it could be used in the future to detect “changes in public mood”. This means that, potentially, people’s reactions could be gauged during a leader’s debate in a general election, for example.
However, not everyone will like the idea of their data being used for such purposes, especially since privacy concerns remain high.
Get a free report all of your own
Facebook users can get a report of their own using Wolfram Alpha’s “computational knowledge engine”, which is capable of generating reports and carrying out analysis across thousands of domains.
The personalised report sets out where most of a user’s friends are based, what is talked about most on the social network, global reach, the stage in life friends are at and much more.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that many people misreport what they like and other personal details on Facebook, so you have to question how accurate the data is. For example, many young people on the social network misreport their marital status, listing best friends as their other half, very often.
This is more obvious in girls, Wolfram says in his blog, but “in general the trend is clear. The rate of getting married starts going up in the early 20s—a couple of years earlier for women than for men—and decreases again in the late 30s, with about 70% of people by then being married. The fraction of people “in a relationship” peaks around age 24, and there’s a small “engaged” peak around 27.”
Whilst the research may have been carried out for the world of Facebook, Wolfram believes that it corresponds closely with census information, although census information puts the average age of getting married a little higher.
The study is a fascinating insight into the behaviour of Facebook users from around the world and as Wolfram points out: “it’s letting us discover all sorts of phenomena. That have the potential to help us understand much more about society and about ourselves.”
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