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Facebook knows you better than your friends do.

Seriously, Science?By Seriously ScienceJanuary 20, 2015 5:00 PM


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Image: flickr/Dimitris KalogeropoylosAs much as Facebook seems to annoy my peers, you've got to hand it to them--Facebook has collected a lot of data about a lot of us. And I'm pretty sure advertisers would like to believe that Facebook can use this information to understand us. But how well is that working out? How well does Facebook understand us and our personalities, compared to, say... our Facebook "friends"? Well, it turns out that all those "Likes" really do add up. Apparently, computer predictions based on participants' clicks were more accurate at judging personalities than the participants' actual Facebook friends. Not only that, but these computational predictions were also better at predicting things like substance use, political attitudes, and physical health. So go ahead and share this on Facebook... if you dare.Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans "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." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Facebook hates old people. NCBI ROFL: Who needs a doctor when you have Facebook? NCBI ROFL: What your Facebook “Likes” say about you.

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