Bright thinkers more likely to tweet: study

Findings show people with a higher cognitive ability use Twitter over LinkedIn

Within the social media realm, one would guess that smart professionals will be more accustomed and fluent in using LinkedIn. Well, it could potentially be proven wrong.

While LinkedIn is a well-known professional networking tool, a recent survey from psychometric testing company, Onetest, uncovered that people with a higher cognitive ability prefer to use Twitter over LinkedIn.

The survey explored the life outcomes of 2851 graduates from around Australia between 2002 and 2011, as part of a graduate recruitment program.

According to Onetest head of psychology, Cherie Curtis, the company has been exploring the outcomes of people who had entered the workforce and investigated the influence of their cognitive ability on life satisfaction, salary and career progression.

“Because social media is such a huge part of people’s identities and lives, we added questions about their social media preference and usage. We found that, while LinkedIn is often thought to be the tool of professionals, those who preferred Twitter were also those with the highest cognitive abilities,” she said.

The Onetest study found that Facebook was the most preferred social medium, followed by LinkedIn, but there was no statistically significant difference between the average cognitive abilities of users other than Twitterers.

Within the sample of graduates, Onetest found that only four per cent of respondents listed Twitter as their preferred social media channel. “However, these respondents had a higher average cognitive ability than other participants in the study who preferred LinkedIn,” Curtis said.

She claimed some of the characteristics of Twitter, such as its immediacy and pace, could explain its appeal to bright thinkers.

“To really engage with Twitter requires lateral thinking and attention. It’s an ever changing, information sharing platform and does require a greater degree of attention, concentration and the ability to retain, organise and apply information. “And to drill down a complex thought into 140 characters or fewer requires problem solving skills and clarity of thought,” Curtis added.

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Higher cognitive abilities don't necessarily translate to better business skills. It would be interesting to hear what the research shows in salary and career progression.

Cherie Curtis


Thanks for your response Max. I am Cherie Curtis mentioned above. We found that Cognitive Ability was twice as powerful in predicting salary outcomes as GPA in graduates. Furthermore, those with higher levels of Cognitive Ability were provided 40% more job offers, worked 2-3 hours longer each week, received a starting salary 15% higher than the average graduate who started on $47K - $57K. Furthermore, those with higher levels of Cognitive Ability also received larger pay rises (approx. 10% more) over their career. More generally we found that graduates valued Ability Utilisation, Achievement and Advancement and that grads were more likely to stay with larger organisations offering a formal graduate project.

We will be releasing a full report of the results later in the month. More information can currently be found here.

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