Who’s Keeping It Real: Social Media Use, Authenticity and Online Self-Expression and the association with Eysenck’s Personality Superfactors


  • Ash King The University of Sydney
  • Andrew Campbell The University of Sydney
  • Brad Ridout The University of Sydney


Background: People frequently utilise social media platforms in order to express themselves online and do so in a way that that is reflective of the real “authentic” self, yet flexible enough to test different aspects of the self. For those who do experiment with different forms of self-expression, individual characteristics such as personality traits have been thought to play an important role. In addition, the nature of content shared appears to also share a relationship with personality and authenticity of online self-expression.

Aims: This study seeks to explore the role of individual characteristics in driving certain approaches to self-expression on social media platforms, specifically through examining how Eysenck’s structure of personality relates to self-expression in the context of social media.

Methods: A total of 489 participants completed a number of online surveys, measuring overall social media use, authenticity of self-presentation on social media (real, ideal, false), self-expression styles (depth, breadth, positivity & authenticity) and Eysenck’s revised short scale personality questionnaire.

Results: Findings demonstrated that extroversion predicts the sharing of one’s authentic self, as well as the sharing of a greater breadth and depth of content on social media. Neuroticism is negatively correlated with sharing an authentic self on SM and with sharing positively-valenced content. Neuroticism positively correlates with the depiction of a false or ideal self on SM.

Conclusions: Overall, the greater authenticity of content shared predicts increased display of SM users’ real self, and a decrease in content intended to impress or portray ones idealised or false self.