Background

Personality has been an intriguing topic since the early days of psychology. How does one describe a person’s character? Can people change? How do others perceive me?

Oxford Dictionary defines personality as “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character”. Cambridge Dictionaries say it’s simplythe type of person you are, shown by the way you behave, feel, and think”.

It appears personality is just a way to describe who we are – as intelligent beings. It affects how we do things and what choices we make in our lives, so it seems to be pretty important and useful to know and understand it. Harvard Business Review identifies some traits that can derail your career and the BBC even devised a test which can tell you where to live depending on the type of personality you have.

In an attempt to give some structure to describing personality, psychologists devised a model called “Big Five personality traits” which are essentially a scale with 5 categories with percentage attached to it. They are:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Defined back in the 1950s, they have become de-facto standard in describing a personality and are widely used in the industry.

 

IBM Watson Personality Insights

The guys at IBM Watson picked up recent scientific research which enables to devise these 5 traits based on the words someone uses in written text. At Wonderminds we have always been intrigued by how computers can understand humans better. Naturally, when we stumbled upon the work IBM guys did, we got interested in trying it and finding interesting ways the data can be used to help us humans understand ourselves better and live better lives. What we found most curious is how easy it is to devise a personality profile from social network content, and how similar types of people tend to bind together. We devised an algorithm to compare different people – from ourselves and our friends to famous scientists, artists, actresses and so on.

What came from it is a side project called Personify. It allows you to view one’s own personality based on just their social networking profile, and compare it to others. You can try it here.

 

Note on Privacy

In light of recent events related to privacy concerns on Facebook and other social networks, we feel it necessary to comment on the use of personal data in such systems as Personify. It uses a social account to get a piece of text written by a person. Such text can come from any source at all – including any public writing, such as a blog post or even a recorded message. In essence, any piece of text longer than 200 words written by an individual can be used to infer their personality using the IBM Watson service or any similar machine learning system.

This is the level of intelligence that machine learning provides. Like with any other powerful invention, this brings great power, which can be a force for good or bad depending on the creator’s intentions.

Personify provides a simple and efficient overview into what’s possible. And, in line with our intentions, we provide a simple way to remove all personal data straight after use without a trace. 

 

Get Personality Profile