Psychologist: Wikipedians are close-minded

Not only are they closed-minded but they are also grumpy, or so says Yair Amichai-Hamburger of the Sammy Ofer School of Communication in Israel.

Along with a team of psychologists Yair surveyed 69 Israeli contributors to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, and compared them to a sample of 70 students that were matched age-wise and amount of Internet usage. As expected the Wikipedians were more comfortable online but much to everyone’s surprise they scored low on agreeableness and openness. This was based on the results from a questionnaire that looked at five traits: openness to experience and ideas, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Amichai-Hamburger speculates that rather than contributing altruistically, Wikipedians take part because they struggle to express themselves in real-world social situations. “They are compensating,” he suggests. “It is their way to have a voice in this world.”

This is consistent with previous research on online communication, says Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware in Newark, who suspects that heavy users of sites such as Digg and Twitter may have similar characteristics. “People who prefer online social behaviour tend to have higher levels of social anxiety and lower social skills,” he says.

Source: The New Scientist – Psychologist finds Wikipedians grumpy and closed-minded

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