Are computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans?

PNASAccording to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National of Sciences (PNAS), 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 score.

The authors point out that “perceiving and judging other people’s personality traits is an essential component of social living. People use personality judgments to make day-to-day decisions and long-term plans in their personal and professional lives, such as whom to befriend, marry, trust, hire, or elect as president. The more accurate the judgment, the better the decision. Previous research has shown that people are fairly good at judging each other’s personalities; for example, even complete strangers can make valid personality judgments after watching a short video presenting a sample of behavior.”

This study compares the accuracy of personality judgment— a ubiquitous and important social-cognitive activity—between computer models and humans. Using several criteria, the researchers demonstrate that computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close others or acquaintances (friends,family, spouse, colleagues, etc.). Our findings highlight that people’s personalities can be predicted automatically and without involving human social-cognitive skills.

 

Source: PNAS

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