Friday, February 06, 2015

Computers judge personality more accurately than humans.

This is a bit scary, from Youyou et al.:
Judging others’ personalities is an essential skill in successful social living, as personality is a key driver behind people’s interactions, behaviors, and emotions. Although accurate personality judgments stem from social-cognitive skills, developments in machine learning show that computer models can also make valid judgments. This study compares the accuracy of human and computer-based personality judgments, using a sample of 86,220 volunteers who completed a 100-item personality questionnaire. We show that (i) computer predictions based on a generic digital footprint (Facebook Likes) are more accurate (r = 0.56) than those made by the participants’ Facebook friends using a personality questionnaire (r = 0.49); (ii) computer models show higher interjudge agreement; and (iii) computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores. Computers outpacing humans in personality judgment presents significant opportunities and challenges in the areas of psychological assessment, marketing, and privacy.

1 comment:

  1. There are many elements to this study. Let’s take one – impulsivity – which should be a multifaceted judgment relating to one’s own feeling brain and especially lower brain, whose signature is instinctual survival reactions.

    The self-assessed correlation score was .52, which was better than the computer score of .28, which was better than the .26 social contacts score.

    I interpret the impulsivity scores as people internally knowing who they really are better than they display externally. A finding of the “duh” variety, though not counter to the study’s headlines.

    What do you think about this study’s statement? “Furthermore, in the future, people might abandon their own psychological judgments and rely on computers when making important life decisions, such as choosing activities, career paths, or even romantic partners. It is possible that such data-driven decisions will improve people’s lives.”

    I think that’s generally possible. Whether that’s individually possible depends on who you really are.

    If all your life you’ve accepted being constantly told what to do, and accepted being forced to do things “for your own good” then yes, you may accept a computer program as a substitute for your parents’ or some other external party’s authority over your life.

    If this describes you, I ask: When do you get to live your own life?