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Help, I’ve Just Been Psychologically Profiled on Twitter

A recently launched service claims to create psychological profiles based purely on what you tweet. We put it to the test — and may be checking into the nearest asylum as a result.

By (@JRRaphael)

September 15, 2009

TweetPsych: The Twitter Psychological ProfileI think I may be psychotic.

I don’t mean to set off an alarm — as far as I know, I’m not about to get all Joaquin Phoenix on your ass or anything. It’s just that I used this new psychological profiling service on Twitter, and…well, the results weren’t exactly uplifting.

Allow me to introduce you to my virtual shrink.

Meet TweetPsych

TweetPsych, launched publicly this summer, is the brainchild of self-described “social and viral marketing scientist” Dan Zarrella. Zarrella says he found a way to use “linguistic analysis algorithms” to analyze the contents of someone’s tweets, then build a detailed profile of his or her personality.

“I think the possibilities of a system like this are enormous, from matching like-minded users to identifying users that exhibit certain useful or desirable traits,” Zarrella says.

TweetPsych looks at your last thousand updates to measure the kinds of words you use and what they reveal about you as a person. And that leads us to my experiment.

TweetPsych: JR

My TweetPsych Analysis

I happily punched my username into TweetPsych, psyched to see what I’d discover. According to the program, I:

  • Express plenty of positive emotions
  • Express plenty of negative emotions

Jeepers, I feel conflicted. But it doesn’t stop there. I also:

  • Tend to talk about the past
  • Tend to talk about the future

What’s more, on what appears to be a scale of 1 to 100, I received the following scores:

  • Social behavior: 49.64
  • Order: 17.57
  • Positive affect: 17.31
  • Concreteness: 15.22
  • Moral imperative: 13.7

If that doesn’t describe someone on the brink of going absolutely apeshit, I’m not sure what does.

TweetPsych: The Joker

Analyzing Others (Including Oprah)

I figured I might not be the only wackjob out there, so I decided to analyze a few other people with TweetPsych’s highly scientific services. I started with my eSarcasm cohort and partner in crime, the sure-to-be-unstable Dan Tynan.

Dan, his tweets seem to indicate, “often make[s] references to physically upward movement. Like upstairs, climb, etc.” Okay, that’s weird. He’s even more antisocial than I am, too — he barely registered on the social behavior scale, with a Manson-esque rating of only 23.6. To be fair, he did score a 9.38 in “glory” and a 5.43 in “cold sensations,” two categories that didn’t come up at all for me. It’s a close race, but I think Dan wins.

Let’s be real, though: Any schmuck off the street could have told you the two of us were a couple of loonies. But what about the queen herself — you know, Twitter’s recently anointed royalty, the all powerful Ms. O? TweetPsych: Oprah

Oprah’s psychological profile, according to TweetPsych, turns out to be rather interesting. She scored a 67.3 for “sexual references” — which is baffling, given that neither Dan nor I managed as much as a 0.000001 in that department. If that’s not enough, she also ranked 15.75 in the area of “hard sensations” (insert your own joke here) and scored an 11.84 in “Regr knol timelessnes.” (That, according to my gibberish to English dictionary, means “yells way too fucking much.”)

I guess it’s not all bad news. In the end, I learned that I’m an antisocial asshole, Dan’s a glorious yet cold and ladder-fixated bastard, and Oprah’s a sex-obsessed hard-thing-craving Regr knol. That all seems about right.

Thank you, TweetPsych. I may be psychotic, but I’m also delighted and enlightened. And desperately searching now for a woman who shares Oprah’s, um, sensibilities.

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