What kind of person blogs?

August 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Trivial) (, , )

Just a brief, speculative snippet this – rather than a full blog post. Via BPS research digest, I’ve seen the abstract of this paper in Computers in Human Behavior [unfortunately, it’s paywalled]. According to the abstract, though: “the results of two studies indicate that people who are high in openness to new experience and high in neuroticism are likely to be bloggers. Additionally, the neuroticism relationship was moderated by gender indicating that women who are high in neuroticism are more likely to be bloggers as compared to those low in neuroticism whereas there was no difference for men.” I found this slightly odd, as I am a blogger and I don’t consider myself to be particularly open to new experiences. I also consider myself to be neurotic, but as the studies indicated that there was no difference in the likelihood of neurotic and non-neurotic men becoming bloggers this probably isn’t relevant.What I did wonder about though, was whether my perception of myself as not being particularly open to new experiences was accurate. Perhaps perception of open-mindedness is a bit like perception of ability? Maybe there is something analogous to the Kruger-Dunning effect for open-mindedness. Thinking about this made me wonder whether the popular depiction of, for example, homeopathy apologists as being “so open-minded their brains might fall out” might, in fact, be an inaccurate impression. What if, despite their calls for open-mindedness, apologists for various supernatural / woo-ish peculiarities are actually closed-minded themselves? This struck me as not just a distinct possibility, but as very likely indeed to be true. Plenty of people have pointed out the intransigence and dogmatism of Alt Med supporters, but despite this the Altie apologists seem determined to foster the impression that they are (despite all evidence to the contrary) open-minded. Perhaps they are so closed-minded that they aren’t open to the idea that they may be closed-minded? It might go some way to explaining the discrepancy between their claimed and actual attitudes.

Anyhoo- I did say this was just a brief, speculative snippet so I’ll STFU now. Please post any examples you have of the closed-minded claiming to be open-minded below (or, indeed, examples of the closed-minded accusing others of being closed-minded). There should be plenty of examples out there – hopefully there’ll be some funny ones in amongst them.



  1. dvnutrix said,

    Oh – the commenter who accused us of sedition comes to mind. In fact, a number of the commenters on our Off-Topic, About Us and similar pages (but never the content) come to mind.

    And, who can forget the accusations of close-mindedness from the cognitively rigid commenters on the Life’s4Living threads?

    The commenters who repeatedly claimed that comments were deleted because they were looking at the numbers for our spam filter.

    I’m not sure that it would be kind to your readers to post the links, tho’ – that sort of stuff is corrosive and can rot your faculties. It’s already given me a sad.

  2. jdc325 said,

    It’s car crash stuff, compellingly awful. I’ve said before that the comments on Holford Watch’s Off-Topic and About Us pages are guilty pleasures, a little bit like Clive Anderson inviting Margerita Pracatan on his show every week (can’t remember which show) – except I have a sneaking admiration for Margerita Pracatan.

    “The commenters who repeatedly claimed that comments were deleted because they were looking at the numbers for our spam filter.”
    Oh, I know – I’ve lost comments to spam filters on other people’s blogs before and it’s annoying, but if I write an excessively long comment or include lots of html and links then I am aware it is a possibility. The same thought doesn’t seem to occur to your outraged commenters – but why go for a simple solution when you can construct a conspiracy? It’s like Occam’s Razor in reverse. The CAM world is like a mirror universe or something. Actually, perhaps Alternative Reality would be a better term.

  3. dvnutrix said,

    Nah – this was Amanda who thought that her comments were being deleted although they always appeared and another charming person who thought we have deleted 40K+ comments – not realising that that was spam. We do actually go through our filter – unpleasant though it is. I think that we’ve lost comparatively few that way but I could be wrong.

    GrrlScientist has some more information about the paper: The blogging personality.

    Guadagno cautions that her team’s results may not be more widely applicable beyond her sample group: American college students, an age group whose Big Five personality traits are still undergoing some changes. But she reminds us that understanding blog writing is a worthwhile goal.

    “One thing that remains clear is that blogs are a form of online expression that is gaining in popularity and that they represent one of the newer forms of online social interaction,” write the authors in their paper. “As such, it is important for social scientists to continue to examine this phenomenon to fully understand its affects on psychological processes that differentiate it from other similar forms of self-expression.”

  4. jdc325 said,

    Ooh – two very, very kind readers have independently emailed me with copies of the paper. This is one of the things I love about blogging – like Blanche Dubois, bloggers can always rely on the kindness of strangers.

    Many thanks to both of you. You know who you are – cheers!

    dvnutrix – yeah, I remember Amanda (and the commenter who got confused about the role of akismet). I don’t think I’ve ever lost a comment on Holford Watch, so you must have done a good job of trawling the spam filter. I’m signing off for the evening now, but I think I’ll read Grrl scientist and take the big five test tomorrow – should be interesting. Cheers for the link.

  5. Mojo said,

    “…Clive Anderson inviting Margerita Pracatan on his show every week (can’t remember which show)”

    Or which Clive! ;)

  6. jdc325 said,

    “Or which Clive!”
    It was, of course, Clive James. Bugger.

  7. Nash said,

    To me, a test of whether you are open minded or not is whether you have changed your mind on a fundamental issue in your life due to evidence or experience. I changed my mind on astrology over 20 years ago and on other aspects of Woo. Since then there have been other personal and professional positions I have had to change in light of the evidence.

    To some holding on to beliefs whatever is a badge of pride. When Jack Straw was on Desert Island discs he told Sue Lawley that his political views were formed when he was 12 and boasted that they haven’t wavered since. For a man in his late fifties to admit this, I really thought was pathetic.

  8. jdc325 said,

    Hi Nash,

    I don’t think I’ve changed my mind on a fundamental issue in my life – but I have changed my mind on lots of things due to being persuaded (with evidence) that I was wrong, or had oversimplified things.
    “To some holding on to beliefs whatever is a badge of pride” – this is sadly true, Jack Straw is an absolute arse for proclaiming his pride in being dogmatic and closed-minded. The problem is, we tend to value consistency quite highly (probably, we over-value it). Burkeman wrote about Cialdini and consistency in a Guardian column (I’m quite taken with ‘this column will change your life’ and it tends to be one of the first things I read on a Saturday – after Goldacre and Brooker, of course. Oliver Burkeman on Cialdini and consistency.


    EDIT: Perhaps people use consistency as a surrogate marker for honesty? If this is the case, I don’t think it is a very good marker – consistency seems to me to be associated with denial and dishonesty.

  9. jdc325 said,

    All – I took the Big Five test. Bit embarrassed about quite how neurotic I am! [It was mostly anxiety and self-consciousness that came through on the neuroticism section – so at least I’m not overly angry :)]

    Openness to experience…..42

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