Computers know you better than your friends

You are what you Like

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Your Facebook Likes provide a signal to your personality so accurate, a computer can know you better than everyone but your very nearest and dearest, claim Cambridge boffins.

In a study published at PNAS (abstract here, PDF here), the researchers used Facebook Likes as the signal to model a computer-based “personality judgement”.

With enough Likes to model someone's personality, only a spouse could beat the boffins' computer models, the university's release claims.

Humans completed questionnaires to make their judgements about their own personality and that of persons close to them; he computer model only had different numbers of likes to work from.

“In the study, a computer could more accurately predict the subject's personality than a work colleague by analysing just ten Likes; more than a friend or a cohabitant (roommate) with 70, a family member (parent, sibling) with 150, and a spouse with 300 Likes,” the University claims.

Cambridge used its “myPersonality” app to gather data from more than 80,000 participants, to build personality types according to the OCEAN model (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism).

Given the growing concerns about online privacy, it's perhaps troubling that the researchers imagine the study being applicable from “recruitment to romance”.

“The ability to judge personality is an essential component of social living—from day-to-day decisions to long-term plans such as whom to marry, trust, hire, or elect as president,” said Dr David Stillwell, a co-author of the paper.

Lead author Wu Youyou of the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre said: “Recruiters could better match candidates with jobs based on their personality; products and services could adjust their behaviour to best match their users' characters and changing moods.”

Lovely. ®

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