Social networking sites such as Facebook represent a unique and dynamic social environment.
This study addresses three theoretical issues in personality psychology in the context of online social networking sites: (a) the temporal consistency of Facebook activity, (b) people's awareness of their online behavior, and (c) comparison of social behavior on Facebook with self- and informant-reported behavior in real life.
Facebook Wall pages of 99 college students (mean age = 19.72) were downloaded six times during 3 weeks and coded for quantity and quality of activity. Everyday social interactions were assessed by self- and friend report.
Facebook activity showed significant consistency across time, and people demonstrated awareness of their online behavior. There was significant similarity between everyday traits and interactions and Facebook behavior (e.g., more posts by friends are related to Agreeableness). Some differences between online and everyday interactions warrant further research (e.g., individuals with more positive offline relationships are less likely to engage in back-and-forth conversations on Facebook).
The results indicate substantial similarity between online and offline social behavior and identify avenues for future research on the possible use of Facebook to compensate for difficulty in everyday interactions.