Do Computers Know You Better Than Your Friends or Spouse?

2 Mar

New research shows computers can judge your personality better than the humans closest to you… and it’s all about your “Likes”…

Isn’t it amazing that just twenty years ago very few people had a cell phone and now most people cannot live without one?  Try this little experiment: next time you go out, leave your cell phone at home.  Chances are you will feel very uncomfortable.  Some people actually say they “freak out” when they accidentally leave their smartphone at home or misplace it.

Twenty years ago, not too many people were on the internet either.  Now it’s such an entrenched part of life that some people feel uncomfortable if they are not connected 24/7 to their email or social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Because so much time is spent on social sites like Facebook, both researchers and marketers have studied them quite a bit, and some of the information they’ve discovered is quite surprising.

For example, a new study published in the journal PNAS tested to see whether computers or people made more accurate assessments of an individual’s personality. Researchers started by asking 86,220 volunteers to complete a 100-item personality questionnaire. Then, they asked friends and family members to complete a shorter questionnaire in regards to the volunteer’s personality. Finally, they accessed the volunteers’ Facebook Like history.

The human judgments were based on the data provided by friends or family members who actually knew the volunteer and the computer’s assessments were solely based on the volunteer’s Facebook Likes.

Results?  According to Science Daily: “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.  Given enough likes to analyze, only a person’s spouse rivaled the computer for accuracy of broad psychological traits.”

The researchers said that this is a demonstration of how computers can discover a person’s psychological traits just from analyzing data.

Lead author Dr. Wu Youyou of Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre adds, “In 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.”

Here is something you might find pretty incredible…  In the study, a computer could more accurately predict a subject’s personality than a work colleague by analyzing just ten likes, more than a friend or a cohabitant (roommate) with 70 likes, more than a family member (parent, sibling) with 150 likes, and more than a spouse with 300 likes!

What is This Information Good For?

Study co-author Dr. David Stillwell writes,   “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… The results of such data analysis can be very useful in aiding people when making decisions.”

Dr. Youyou explains, “Recruiters could better match candidates with jobs based on their personality; products and services could adjust their behavior to best match their users’ characters and changing moods.”

But the research team also issued this warning:  “We hope that consumers, technology developers, and policy-makers will tackle those challenges by supporting privacy-protecting laws and technologies, and giving the users full control over their digital footprints.”

Clearly, most things that possess the power and potential to do tremendous good can also be used for harm.  Splitting the atom is the classic example. This type of data mining is another.

That’s why everyone should think twice about what digital footprint they leave on the Internet. One good piece of advice is to only post things online that you wouldn’t mind your mother or grandmother seeing (because they might). If you’re not sure, then don’t post it. But since psychological profiles can be made of you just from you clicking a “Like” button, you may be revealing more about yourself than you know.

While we are on the topic of being careful what you post on the internet… check this out…

You probably know what a “selfie” is. A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or smartphone.  Selfies are often shared on social networking services like as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  They are usually flattering and made to appear casual.  Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror.

You probably knew that.  But here is something you probably do not know…

The first selfie was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.  Yes… 1839.  Robert was an American pioneer in photography and took what is considered the first photograph of a person: himself.  He was able to accomplish this because it took over a minute for his primitive camera to take the shot, so he was able to start the picture and then run in front of the camera while the film was exposed to light.

Now for something else you probably do not know about selfies…

Researchers from Ohio State University analyzed surveys completed by 800 men in regards to their online behavior and personality traits. They found that men who regularly posted selfies on social media sites “scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy, and were prone to self-objectification… Additionally, men who tended to edit their selfies before posting scored higher up the scale in narcissism and self-objectification, which measures the extent to which they prioritize their appearance.”

The researchers said that “self-objectification” may become a bigger problem with the rising use of social media. However, they stress that posting selfies on a regular basis doesn’t make a man a narcissist or psychopath, it just means they score above-average for these particular antisocial traits.

Don’t forget, if you ever have any questions or concerns about your health, talk to us. Contact us with your questions. We’re here to help and don’t enjoy anything more than participating in providing you natural pain relief.

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