There are people who love Facebook and people who love Twitter -- and now scientists think they've discovered why those preferences exist, and what they say about the people who hold them.

David Hughes and his colleagues at Manchester Business School in the UK did an online survey with volunteers who were asked questions about their personalities, the way they used Facebook and Twitter, and which site they preferred.

Consistent with past research suggesting shy people use Facebook to forge social ties and combat loneliness, Facebook users in this survey were also found to be more social -- and more neurotic -- than Twitter users. (If you don't have any of those types in your Facebook timeline, we envy you.)

But among people who use the networking sites as "informational tools," some interesting differences were found. While Facebook users seek and share information as a way of avoiding more intellectually-demanding sources like journal articles and newspaper reports, Twitter members use the site precisely because it's a more cognitively-stimulating way of discovering useful information and material.

Bottom line? Facebook users prefer Facebook for its social aspects, while Twitter users prefer Twitter for its ease in sharing and exchanging information -- without the ickiness of having to be nice to anyone to get it.

But the one group researchers didn't talk to? People who fondly remember a time before either site existed at all. What does still using Friendster say about you?

[via BPS Research Digest]