How Personality Affects Website Preferences

We know that different personalities prefer different images and messages in ads. Personalizing ads based on personality can yield a high return on your marketing investment.

On a larger scale, different personalities also prefer different websites. Let’s take a look at a study of Internet users’ personality traits to discover how personality affects which websites people find appealing and visit frequently.

The study

In 2012, Dr. Michal Kosinski and Dr. David Stillwell from the University of Cambridge and Pushmeet Kohli, Yoram Bachrach and Thore Graepel from Microsoft Research released results of a study of more than 160,000 Internet users’ personality traits. The study examined how users’ personalities affect their online behavior.

The researchers measured personality via myPersonality, a Facebook application that offers its users personality assessments and feedback on their scores.

Once users completed the personality assessment, they had the chance to opt in or out of releasing access to their “liked” information as part of the myPersonality app. This allowed researchers to measure preferences for websites in two ways. First, they asked 10,897 participants to report on which relatively popular websites they visit by filling out the WPQ (Website Preference Questionnaire). Secondly, they were granted access to the specific pages that participants “liked” on Facebook.

By combining the results of the personality assessments with visitors’ favorite websites, researchers were able to draw personality profiles of websites’ audiences.

Results

Below is an example of deviantart.com. The audience personality profile of the deviantArt online community website is users who are alternative art enthusiasts and artists.

The researchers found that this website attracts an audience that tends to be liberal and artistic rather than conservative and traditional (i.e., high Openness), spontaneous and flexible rather than well organized (i.e., low Conscientiousness), shy and reserved rather than outgoing and active (i.e., with Extraversion) and emotional rather than calm and relaxed (i.e. high Neuroticism).

The findings were consistent between the Facebook “likes” and self-reported website use.

OCEAN is a mnemonic device that stands for the Big Five personality traits — Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

Overall the researchers found that people high on Extraversion frequent websites related to music and Internet (the category that contains Facebook and Twitter), while Introverts prefer websites related to comics, literature and movies.

People high on Openness (the most liberal, creative audience who are open to new experiences) were especially attracted to:

(1)    modcloth.com — a indie, retro and vintage clothing website

(2)    boingboing.net — a blog on media, technology and popular culture

(3)    astrology-online.com and cafeastrology.com — astrology websites

(4)    gutenberg.org — a free e-book repository

(5)    failblog.com — a website with humorous media content

(6)    fineartamerica.com — a fine arts website

(7)    911tabs.com — a website specializing in guitar tabs

(8)    senate.gov — the website for the United States senate

On the other hand, people low on Openness (more conservative and “conventional”) liked:

(1)    dealspl.us and newegg.com — shopping deal websites

(2)    a variety of health, fitness, recipe and style websites such as fda.gov,  mydailymoment.com and fitnessmagazine.com

(3)    doctorslounge.com — a website specializing in health and medical jobs

(4)    gateway.com — a website that sells information technology products

(5)    nhl.com — the website of the National Ice Hockey League in the United States

(6)    pier1.com — ecommerce site that sells furniture and accessories

Takeaways

Personality affects preferences for websites and online behavior. Marketers can benefit from knowing what kind of personalities their websites are attracting and personalize content or services, product recommendations, search results and suggested websites based on this information.

You might also like

Personality Matters: How one company doubled its ROI by customizing ads based on personality

Manifestations of user personality in website choice and behaviour on online social networks (by Kosinski, Bachrach, Kohli, Stillwell and Graepel)

Your personality predicts your online behavior (By Nathalie Nahai, The Web Psychologist)

Advertisements
Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s