Does personality prediction using big data makes sense?

This week I watched a television documentary regarding Big Data from the Dutch broadcaster VPRO. In this Big Data documentary thought leaders like Alex (Sandy) Pentland, Brian Dalessandro, Jaron Lanier, Matthew Hogan, Michal Kosinski, Stephen Wolfram and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger were interviewed. Their insights and thoughts were very interesting.

In this Big Data documentary Michal Kosinski, deputy director of The Psychometrics Centre of the University of Cambridge, stated that they could predict The Big Five factors of a Facebook user on basis of his or her Facebook’s Likes. He even stated that they could also predict characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation and if the parents of these users are divorced.
Stiff statements, don’t you think so? If our “Likes”, in relationship to each other and in relationship to the “Likes” in our network and the “Likes” in the rest of Facebook, disclose these personal details then it’s time to use this knowledge.

Luckily Michal Kosinski gave us a tool to play with. The tool predict your personality expressed in the Big Five Factors on basis of your Facebook Likes. So I used the tool and this is my result: YouAreWhatYouLike.
I must say that I disagree with 3 out of 5 factors. I am a strong believer of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. My Type Indicator is ENTJ so you might understand why. My partner even disagrees with an additional factor regarding my personality, do I need to say more?

Of course this mismatch doesn’t proof anything. I have submitted no more than 25 “Likes” on Facebook. Maybe this amount is too small in order to generate a solid prediction. Maybe there is another reason.

So I would like to give Michal Kosinski some empirical proof. I therefore would like to ask you to run YouAreWhatYouLike using your own Facebook login. Do you agree with the result? Please answer the following poll. And please invite your Facebook friends also to run YouAreWhatYouLike and to answer the poll. The results of the poll are displayed in this post. Have fun.


Working in ICT since the 90's in multiple domains including network infrastructures and protocols, software application development, office automation, enterprise resource planning / business process automation and cloud solutions. Current professional focus: Big data and machine learning. Personal interest: global economics.

Posted in Big Data, Social Media

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