The Null Device


A study from University College London, involving brain scans correlated with political surveys, has found that self-proclaimed liberals and conservatives have differently shaped brains:

"The anterior cingulate is a part of the brain that is on the middle surface of the brain at the front and we found that the thickness of the grey matter, where the nerve cells of neurons are, was thicker the more people described themselves as liberal or left wing and thinner the more they described themselves as conservative or right wing," he told the programme.
"The amygdala is a part of the brain which is very old and very ancient and thought to be very primitive and to do with the detection of emotions. The right amygdala was larger in those people who described themselves as conservative.

neurology neuropolitics politics psychology 0

Following in the footsteps of OKCupid's data-mining blog, some people at Facebook have recently analysed a sample of status updates by word category, extracting correlations between word categories (as well as overall subject matter and positivity/negativity), time of day and probability of updates being liked/commented on. The analysis has shown, among other things:

  • there are correlations between word categories and age; older people use more first-person plurals, positive emotions and references to religion and family, while young people tend to talk in the singular first-person (presumably adolescent alienation?), mention sadness and death, swear a lot and talk about sex, music and TV.
  • People with more friends talk more about social processes and other people, and have higher total word counts; whereas, while talking about home, family and emotions are correlated with having fewer friends, the most strongly correlated categories are time and the past.
  • Positive emotions are one of the most likely categories to be liked, but least likely to attract comments. Negative emotions, however, attract a lot of comments (presumably from the people posting empathetic "Don't Like" messages).
  • The one thing less likeable than negative emotions is talk about sleeping.
  • People who talk about metaphysical or religious subjects are most likely to be friends. And people who use prepositions a lot tend not to be friends with people who swear a lot or exhibit anger or negative emotions.

data mining facebook language psychology 3