New research conducted by OPP, has revealed that 93% of respondents are now using the Internet, email and online forums to communicate in their personal lives. In particular, 86% of respondents reported spending up to two hours per day communicating via email, with 54% logging on to Social Networking sites on a daily basis.
Five key online behaviour profiles have emerged from the research: the social butterfly, the cautious user, the rebel, the open book and the chameleon.
Social butterflies represent the group of people who spend the most time communicating online in their personal lives, compared to the general population. They report having more Facebook contacts and feel that technological advances have improved our standard of communication. Their personality profiles indicate a gregarious and outgoing presence, with a strong desire for social participation and for building relationships with others. They are likely to adopt a more carefree and spontaneous approach to life in general. They feel more comfortable disclosing information about themselves to others and may be less concerned about conforming to external rules and expectations, compared to the general population.
Cautious users show greater levels of concern over online privacy issues and possess a higher level of self control and restraint in their behaviour and decision making, in comparison to the general population. They are likely to adopt a more cautious, considered approach to life in general, possibly thinking more deeply and strategically before making decisions. They also display higher levels of anxiety and apprehension than the general population, meaning that they are likely to be more perceptive of the possible pitfalls or consequences associated with revealing too much on social networking sites.
Chameleons represent the group of people who report the greatest change to their character when interacting online. They possess higher levels of anxiety and self-doubt, compared to the general population. Whereas the higher levels of anxiety in the 'Cautious User' lead them to take a more considered and self-protective approach towards online communication, in the Chameleon, the high levels of self-doubt, combined with a lack of self belief, may lead them to portray a different image of themselves as a form of escapism. A higher level of social confidence and a willingness to break rules and social codes may be the catalysts towards this type of personality change when online.
Open books are people who report being comfortable with others viewing their social networking pages and are very open about their online behaviour. They possess a high level of rule consciousness, suggesting a more conscientious and dutiful approach towards external rules and social codes. They have lower levels of anxiety compared to the general population. They are more emotionally stable, less apprehensive, and show lower levels of physical tension than people who are uncomfortable with their online behaviour being examined.
Rebels are people who report downloading unauthorised files whilst online. They are likely to be more emotionally detached from people, enjoy being alone, and may not find interacting with others to be particularly rewarding. They are less likely to be concerned with how their actions or decisions affect others, compared to the general population.
Paul Deakin, Senior Consultant, at OPP, said: “We are a nation which communicates extensively online and it is important to understand how people are expressing their personalities through these channels.
"OPP have been conducting research into personality for many years to help people better understand how to communicate effectively. We felt it was important to understand people's online behaviour as social media is prevalent in both social and work environments.
"To see distinct differences come through in the research was fascinating; people have very different views on how to interact online. The majority of the nation has embraced technology and communicates very openly online but some people are still sceptical and do not trust online communications."