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Concept: Personality psychology


We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. The analysis presented is based on a dataset of over 58,000 volunteers who provided their Facebook Likes, detailed demographic profiles, and the results of several psychometric tests. The proposed model uses dimensionality reduction for preprocessing the Likes data, which are then entered into logistic/linear regression to predict individual psychodemographic profiles from Likes. The model correctly discriminates between homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases, African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases. For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test-retest accuracy of a standard personality test. We give examples of associations between attributes and Likes and discuss implications for online personalization and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, White American, Sexual orientation, African American, Neuroticism, Trait theory, Heterosexuality


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.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Personality psychology, Skill, Learning, Computer, Emotion, Judgment


People are exposed to persuasive communication across many different contexts: Governments, companies, and political parties use persuasive appeals to encourage people to eat healthier, purchase a particular product, or vote for a specific candidate. Laboratory studies show that such persuasive appeals are more effective in influencing behavior when they are tailored to individuals' unique psychological characteristics. However, the investigation of large-scale psychological persuasion in the real world has been hindered by the questionnaire-based nature of psychological assessment. Recent research, however, shows that people’s psychological characteristics can be accurately predicted from their digital footprints, such as their Facebook Likes or Tweets. Capitalizing on this form of psychological assessment from digital footprints, we test the effects of psychological persuasion on people’s actual behavior in an ecologically valid setting. In three field experiments that reached over 3.5 million individuals with psychologically tailored advertising, we find that matching the content of persuasive appeals to individuals' psychological characteristics significantly altered their behavior as measured by clicks and purchases. Persuasive appeals that were matched to people’s extraversion or openness-to-experience level resulted in up to 40% more clicks and up to 50% more purchases than their mismatching or unpersonalized counterparts. Our findings suggest that the application of psychological targeting makes it possible to influence the behavior of large groups of people by tailoring persuasive appeals to the psychological needs of the target audiences. We discuss both the potential benefits of this method for helping individuals make better decisions and the potential pitfalls related to manipulation and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, The Target, Behavior, Social psychology, Social influence, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Persuasion


The increasing prevalence of social media means that we often encounter written language characterized by both stylistic variation and outright errors. How does the personality of the reader modulate reactions to non-standard text? Experimental participants read ‘email responses’ to an ad for a housemate that either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos (e.g., teh) or homophonous grammar errors (grammos, e.g., to/too, it’s/its). Participants completed a 10-item evaluation scale for each message, which measured their impressions of the writer. In addition participants completed a Big Five personality assessment and answered demographic and language attitude questions. Both typos and grammos had a negative impact on the evaluation scale. This negative impact was not modulated by age, education, electronic communication frequency, or pleasure reading time. In contrast, personality traits did modulate assessments, and did so in distinct ways for grammos and typos.

Concepts: Evaluation, Personality psychology, Assessment, Educational psychology, Writing, Modulation, Communication, Big Five personality traits


The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between personality traits, mental health variables and media use among German students. The data of 633 participants were collected. Results indicate a positive association between general Internet use, general use of social platforms and Facebook use, on the one hand, and self-esteem, extraversion, narcissism, life satisfaction, social support and resilience, on the other hand. Use of computer games was found to be negatively related to these personality and mental health variables. The use of platforms that focus more on written interaction (Twitter, Tumblr) was assumed to be negatively associated with positive mental health variables and significantly positively with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. In contrast, Instagram use, which focuses more on photo-sharing, correlated positively with positive mental health variables. Possible practical implications of the present results for mental health, as well as the limitations of the present work are discussed.

Concepts: Present, Psychology, Personality psychology, Mental health, Positive psychology, Neuroticism, Internet, Social network service


Humans are tremendously sensitive to unfairness. Unfairness provokes strong negative emotional reactions and influences our subsequent decision making. These decisions might not only have consequences for ourselves and the person who treated us unfairly but can even transmit to innocent third persons - a phenomenon that has been referred to as generalized negative reciprocity. In this study we aimed to investigate whether regulation of emotions can interrupt this chain of unfairness. Real allocations in a dictator game were used to create unfair situations. Three different regulation strategies, namely writing a message to the dictator who made an unfair offer, either forwarded or not forwarded, describing a neutral picture and a control condition in which subjects just had to wait for three minutes, were then tested on their ability to influence the elicited emotions. Subsequently participants were asked to allocate money between themselves and a third person. We show that writing a message which is forwarded to the unfair actor is an effective emotion regulation strategy and that those participants who regulated their emotions successfully by writing a message made higher allocations to a third person. Thus, using message writing as an emotion regulation strategy can interrupt the chain of unfairness.

Concepts: Game theory, Decision making, Personality psychology, Decision theory, Regulation, Emotion, Grammatical person, Rulemaking


Associations between personality traits, mental wellbeing and good health behaviours were examined to understand further the social and psychological context of the health divide.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Clinical psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Behavioural sciences


Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term that has been applied over the years to a group of children with motor disability and related service requirements. The first conceptions of cerebral palsy and our knowledge about aetiology and pathogeny allow us to assume that cerebral palsy existed in the Ancient World. Although there is lack of detailed medical descriptions from before the 19th century, mentions to cerebral palsy can be found in representational art, literary sources and paleopathology; however, because of the poor medical documentation, the diagnosis of cerebral palsy must remain a more or less well-justified supposition. In the Ancient World, the first medical description of cerebral palsy was made by Hippocrates in his work “Corpus Hippocraticum”. Concrete examples and definitions of cerebral palsy, however, did not emerge until the early 19th century with observations by William John Little; thus, Little was the first personality to intensely engage cerebral palsy. Towards the end of the 19th century, two more personalities emerged, adding to the historical hallmarks of cerebral palsy: William Osler and Sigmund Freud. The significant developments that have followed since then are all due to the contributions of these three personalities in the field of cerebral palsy.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Physician, Cerebral palsy, Sigmund Freud, 19th century, Hippocrates, Carl Jung, Hippocratic Corpus


Unlike frozen snapshots of facial expressions that we often see in photographs, natural facial expressions are dynamic events that unfold in a particular fashion over time. But how important are the temporal properties of expressions for our ability to reliably extract information about a person’s emotional state? We addressed this question experimentally by gauging human performance in recognizing facial expressions with varying temporal properties relative to that of a statistically optimal (“ideal”) observer. We found that people recognized emotions just as efficiently when viewing them as naturally evolving dynamic events, temporally reversed events, temporally randomized events, or single images frozen in time. Our results suggest that the dynamic properties of human facial movements may play a surprisingly small role in people’s ability to infer the emotional states of others from their facial expressions.

Concepts: Psychology, Gene expression, Natural selection, Evolution, Personality psychology, Emotion, Paul Ekman


Geek culture is a subculture of enthusiasts that is traditionally associated with obscure media (Japanese animation, science fiction, video games, etc.). However, geek culture is becoming increasingly mainstream; for example, in the past year alone, Dragon*Con, a major Geek convention in Atlanta, Georgia, attracted an attendance of over 57,000 members. The present article uses an individual differences approach to examine three theoretical accounts of geek culture. Seven studies (N = 2354) develop the Geek Culture Engagement Scale (GCES) to quantify geek engagement and assess its relationships to theoretically relevant personality and individual differences variables. These studies present evidence that individuals may engage in geek culture in order to maintain narcissistic self-views (the great fantasy migration hypothesis), to fulfill belongingness needs (the belongingness hypothesis), and to satisfy needs for creative expression (the need for engagement hypothesis). Geek engagement is found to be associated with elevated grandiose narcissism, extraversion, openness to experience, depression, and subjective well-being across multiple samples. These data lay the groundwork for further exploration of geek culture as well as provide a foundation for examining other forms of subculture participation.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Cultural studies, Individualism, Openness to experience, Popular culture