Reminding us all that body language plays a major role in communication, an international research team has conjured up an artificial intelligence (AI) that is capable of something rather remarkable: It can approximate the type of personality you have based on how your eyes move.
Writing in Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, the team reveals that four of the so-called Big Five personality traits – neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness – as well as “perceptual curiosity” (giving attention to interesting, novel stimuli) could be determined just from a limited data set. Only the last of the Big Five, openness, couldn’t be adequately determined.
“Besides allowing us to perceive our surroundings, eye movements are also a window into our mind and a rich source of information on who we are, how we feel, and what we do,” the University of Stuttgart-led team explain in their paper. Their new research not only supports this claim, but highlights subtle and previously neglected eye movements that give away aspects of someone’s personality.
The study only used 50 students and staff at Flinders University, the vast majority of which were female, which means that it’s too early to say how effective this AI’s predictive abilities truly are. Saying that, this remains an engrossing proof-of-concept study, so how did it work?
The participants had to wear a state-of-the-art, head-mounted video-based eye tracker, which I’m sure looked absolutely fabulous. It recorded the subjects’ eye movements as they went on a 10-minute-long routine buying an item of their choice from a campus shop.
At the same time, the subjects were quizzed on their personality traits using standard-issue psychological questionnaires. These would later be used to see how well the AI accomplished its unprecedented task.
The AI, developed by the team based on reams of pre-existing data, took into account plenty of theories regarding eye behavior. In crude terms, the manner in which we look at things gives hints as to the thought processes that are driving those ocular actions.