Us humans like to pride ourselves on being unique. We like to believe that our individual personalities are so varied that it’s impossible to compartmentalise us.
A study in PNAS proves this might not be so. In fact, computers are able to deduce our personalities based on something as simplistic as our Facebook likes. In fact, this report bets that personality judgements made by a computer model may be more accurate than family or friends insights.
For the average person with 250+ likes, the computer model was almost as accurate as a spouse. Family, friends, cohabitants, and work colleagues didn’t perform as well.
As expected, the number of page likes a person has impacts the model’s accuracy. A person who liked 10 pages would be harder to judge than a person with over 300 page likes. Of course the most accurate way to determine personality was through the contents, rather than the number of pages.
Co-author David Stillwell, deputy director of Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre, gave Motherboard some examples of how the model worked. Extroverts liked pages to do with meeting new people, parties, beer pong and making people laugh, alongside less obvious things such as the jeweller Tiffany & Co. Introverts preferred pages to do with mathematics, anime, Minecraft, Star Trek and JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
Technology like this isn’t just exciting to learn about – it also has some cool real-world applications. A computer model that can gauge your personality can personalise online interactions to your tastes. That’s similar to a bit of online marketing we today. But Stillwell had bigger aspirations for such a model. “I’d like to know that, the reason you’re seeing Star Trek is because we think you’re an introverted person,” he said—and then offer you a chance to change that. You could also use a similar tool to help with tasks like matching people to careers that suit them.
Who knows, in a few years our social interactions will become much, much more personal. And I mean your computer may just know your tastes better than your spouse!