Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 27;112(4):1036-40. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418680112. Epub 2015 Jan 12.

Abstract

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.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; big data; computational social science; personality judgment; social media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Social Media
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*