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Why Facebook posts can reveal personality traits better than friends, family

Social networking site Facebook has made it easy to reveal your personality better than your friends by peeping into your profile and analysing the posts that you 'like' with the help of a software.



Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Social networking site Facebook has made it easy to reveal your personality better than your friends by peeping into your profile and analysing the posts that you 'like' with the help of a software.

So, by simply going through a user's Facebook activity as to how many 'likes' he/she has made, one can draw personality inferences as accurately as friends or family can make.

The study conducted at University of Cambridge compares the ability of computers and people to make accurate judgments about our personalities. People's judgments were based on their familiarity with the judged individual, while computer models used a specific digital signal: Facebook Likes.

The results show that by mining Facebook Likes, the computer model was able to predict a person's personality more accurately than most of their friends and family.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University describe the finding as an "emphatic demonstration" of the capacity of computers to discover an individual's psychological traits through pure data analysis, showing machines can know us better than we'd previously thought: an "important milestone" on the path towards more social human-computer interactions.

Lead author Wu Youyou, from Cambridge's Psychometrics Centre, was quoted as saying: “The future, computers could be able to infer our psychological traits and react accordingly, leading to the emergence of emotionally-intelligent and socially skilled machines”.

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

To gauge the accuracy of these measurements, the online personality judgements were corroborated with a meta-analysis of previous psychological studies over decades which looked at how people's colleagues, family and so on judge their personality. Researchers found their online values similar to the averages from years of person-to-person research.

The study is published in the journal PNAS.

(With Agency inputs)

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