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article imageFacebook may know you better than friends and family, says study

By Sravanth Verma     Jan 19, 2015 in Internet
A recent study from Stanford University and the University of Cambridge has found that a computer with data from a person's Facebook “likes” was better able to predict that individual's personality than most of their friends and family.
“It was shocking to us,” Stanford postdoctoral fellow and study co-author Michal Kosinski told Yahoo Parenting. “When we embarked on our study, we were just hoping we could say, ‘Look, computers are as accurate as humans.’”
But the results showed that computers were much more accurate at such predictions. Kosinski's computer model looked through the likes and statuses of over 85,000 volunteer participants. They also gave separate questionnaires to the volunteers, and their friends and family, to compare the model's predictions.
The computer prediction was much more accurate, especially in the context of situations such as substance abuse, political attitudes, and physical health. Only 10 likes were required for the model to predict a person's personality better than their co-worker. Seventy likes helped it do better than a friend or roommate. One hundred fifty were needed to do better than a parent or sibling. Three hundred helped the model predict a personality better than an individual's spouse.
“We really expected people to do better,” admits Kosinski. One reason for the difference, he suggests, may be because human beings tend to focus more on recent traits. “We were surprised to find that actually computers are beating us at something we excel at."
Research has looked at how social media can influence personality development, but this is one of the first to focus on how a computer fed with social profile data is better than other human beings at predicting personality traits. Kosiniski advises friends and family to get more involved and current to better understand our near and dear ones. “I would advise parents to check out what videos your kids are watching and the blogs they’re reading to stay relevant,” said Kosinski. “That will help you understand the things they’re interested in.”
The paper titled, “Computer-Based Personality Judgments Are More Accurate Than Those Made by Humans,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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