Could we use psychometric profiling of users in User Assistance?

In the How Powerful is Facebook’s Algorithm? (The Inquiry, BBC World Service), quantitative social scientist David Stillwell revealed computers can predict our personalities based on our Facebook activity.

So could we use psychometric profiling of users in User Assistance?

In a report into the study, it stated:

“Researchers have found that, based on enough Facebook Likes, computers can judge your personality traits better than your friends, family and even your partner. Using a new algorithm, researchers have calculated the average number of Likes artificial intelligence (AI) needs to draw personality inferences about you as accurately as your partner or parents … These results provided self-reported personality scores for what are known in psychological practice as the ‘big five’ traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—the OCEAN model. Through this, researchers could establish which Likes equated with higher levels of particular traits e.g. liking ‘Salvador Dali’ or ‘meditation’ showed a high degree of openness.”

Liberal & artisticShy & reservedCooperativeCalm & relaxed
TEDJ-popLife of PiFerrari
John ColtraneMinecraftThe BibleVolunteering
The Daily ShowWikipediaSmilingUsain Bolt
AtheismThe X-FilesBourne IdentityKayaking

Facebook personality methodology personality judgments and self-ratings

CNN reported:

“A person’s Facebook likes can also be used to predict intelligence, say the researchers. Liking “The Daily Show,” “science,” “Morgan Freeman’s Voice” and the mysterious “Curly Fries” indicates someone is highly intelligent. Lower intelligence was suggested by likes for “Clark Griswold,” “Harley-Davidson” and “Bret Michaels,” according to the study.

Likes for “beerpong,” “Chris Tucker” and “cheerleading” were strong predictors of an extrovert while “role playing games,” “Anime” and “Voltaire” pointed to introverted personality types. “Kurt Donald Cobain” and “Vampires Everywhere” indicated neurotic personalities, “Wes Anderson” and “serial killer” were liked by spontaneous people, and competitive types liked “Sun Tzu” and “I hate everyone.” “

You can test the University of Cambridge’s Facebook and Twitter Prediction tool yourself. Here is its assessment of me:

OCEAN assessment

If we had a better idea of the personality of a user, could we create better content,  personalised for them?

There are, of course,  issues around privacy and abuse of this type of knowledge. The data collected about people should only be used their permission (as was the case in the University of Cambridge study).

We are not aware of any studies into how (or if) different personality types react to different types of tone, voice or presentation formats. It might be that different personality types were more or less willing to attempt tasks, or solve problems by themselves.

The claims there are different learning styles (visual, kinaesthetic, and auditory) have not been proven, so there might not be any difference at all. It would be interesting to find out.


alain smithee

I have a Facebook account under duress because my university requires that I use Facebook to communicate with professors and other people in my class.

I don’t “like” anything, and I have gone though the account settings and activated every privacy setting I can find, which seems to drive the advertisers crazy and would probably make using this algorithm a problem.

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