Cargo cult of personality
July 27, 2015 5:29 PM   Subscribe

The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more. Just enter a chunk of text with at least 100 recognized words and Watson will break down your (or Hitler's or Donald Trump's) personality compared to other participants.

This is not intended to be a parlor game:
As a core service of the IBM Watson platform, the Personality Insights service helps businesses understand their customers at a deeper level. It can automatically infer, from potentially noisy social media, portraits of individuals that reflect their personality characteristics.

The service offers a set of core analytics for discovering actionable insights about people and entities. Businesses can use these insights to guide highly personalized engagements and interactions to better tailor their products, services, campaigns, and other communications for their audience.


Complete overview here.
posted by Room 641-A (80 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh, I'll have to try more samples. Some of this seems totally accurate to me, some doesn't - kind of on par with vaguely-phrased horoscopes. The parts that are right about me are kind of creepily right though:

You are a bit indirect, guarded and excitable.

You are self-conscious: you are sensitive about what others might be thinking about you. You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. And you are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time.

Experiences that give a sense of efficiency hold some appeal to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents. You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them.

posted by latkes at 5:34 PM on July 27, 2015


I gave Watson my submission for this month's Camp Nano, which I worked really hard on, and got this back:

You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys.
posted by mittens at 5:35 PM on July 27, 2015 [18 favorites]


Well, I used my highest-rated MF comment for my analysis, and it was pretty accurate, in the same way that a horoscope is pretty accurate, though maybe slightly more accuratey. I only scored 48% for "hedonism" though which was pretty disappointing, I will have to try harder.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is not intended to be a parlor game:

It's the INTERNET. Watch as everyone runs dialogue from their favorite character.
posted by mikurski at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


So it analyzes my "cognitive and social characteristics" based on my self-chosen input, and it returns some generic horoscope gobbledigook, yet it's not a parlor game? Okay then.
posted by monospace at 5:42 PM on July 27, 2015 [19 favorites]


I experimented with blog posts on different topics (on fiction, on literary criticism, on something relatively technical) and got wildly different responses depending on the topic--I particularly like how my empathy levels changed depending on what I was writing about. Either I'm really invested in people or...really not! I'm into art or...really not!
posted by thomas j wise at 5:44 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Watson is fast! Anyway, I put in my most popular (a relative term) blog post and got:
You are heartfelt.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of connectedness.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.
Well, I'm certainly unconcerned with achieving success (as my W-2s will attest). Not bad Watson, not bad.
posted by MikeMc at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'd really like to believe what it said about me because it was really flattering, but how does this actually work?
posted by saulgoodman at 5:49 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


"You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys."

Heh. I majored in illustration and am a designer now.

Good job, IBM Watson.
posted by Windigo at 5:52 PM on July 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


The Forer Effect now with 50% More Science!
posted by griphus at 5:59 PM on July 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.
posted by one_bean at 6:01 PM on July 27, 2015 [19 favorites]


There’s this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. ‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.’ I been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this morning made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking, maybe it means you're the evil man, and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.

AND Watson's verdict is:

"You are a bit compulsive, explosive and opinionated.

You are fiery: you have a fiery temper, especially when things do not go your way. You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time. And you are carefree: you do what you want, disregarding rules and obligations."

So far so good, but then:

"Your choices are driven by a desire for modernity."

Hmmmm. What's the modern equivalent of motherfuckin' Ezekiel, my brothers?
posted by storybored at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


MikeMc: You are heartfelt. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively. You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of connectedness. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.

TL;DR: "You should start a blog."
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:07 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tried some of my most favorited comments and got wildly different personality results for each one.

Here's the "science" behind it. I only skimmed through the description, but apparently they match words to a psycholinguistic dictionary and build a score.

The only common themes: compulsive, disorderly, unconcerned with tradition, independence, melancholy, susceptible to stress.
posted by pravit at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I took my recent comment in the Switzerland thread and gave it to Watson:
You are guarded.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are modest: you are uncomfortable being the center of attention. And you are calm-seeking: you prefer activities that are quiet, calm, and safe.

Your choices are driven by a desire for efficiency.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.
Then I took a short piece out of my personal notes about my health:
You are guarded, skeptical and can be perceived as inconsiderate.

You are self-conscious: you are sensitive about what others might be thinking about you. You are self-focused: you are more concerned with taking care of yourself than taking time for others. And you are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider achieving success to guide a large part of what you do: you seek out opportunities to improve yourself and demonstrate that you are a capable person.
And lastly from an email sent to a large group of women:
You are heartfelt, analytical and restrained.

You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. You are self-assured: you feel you have the ability to succeed in the tasks you set out to do. And you are accommodating: you are easy to please and try to avoid confrontation.

Your choices are driven by a desire for organization.

You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.
I don't consider myself a good writer, but what I think this points out is that who you're writing for affects what and how you write. Big surprise there.
posted by michswiss at 6:09 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. I love the irony of having to check a box saying "I am not a robot" in order to let a robot analyze me.

2. I entered the following (original to me, as far as I know) joke:

A man fell in love with a particular type of Vietnamese ethnic cuisine, that featured a remarkably tender and flavorful pork dish. He decides it's by far the best meal he's ever had, and next day he went back to the restaurant to ask for the recipe, but it was closed and the chef gone.

The guy frantically started asking around at every Vietnamese restaurant he could find, hoping for a lead...to no avail. After months and months of searching he finally tracked down a cook who was at least able to tell him the reason that dish was so flavorful was due to a secret blend of Vietnamese herbs and spices that got rubbed on the meat before roasting, and the ingredients were guarded jealously by the masters of that cuisine.

So he continued his search in Vietnam, where he heard that the recipe he coveted originated among the Hmong people who lived in the Vietnamese mountains. He learned they weren't willing to give up the information for any amount of cash - they disdained mere money; BUT he was also informed that Westerners were considered exotic and beautiful, so - if he was willing - he MIGHT be able to trade sex for knowledge of the exact rub ingredients.

The guy was still very keen on learning how to make this dish, so he figured why not, it's worth it. He made the arduous journey to the mountains and started travelling from Hmong village to Hmong village offering his favors in return for the secret ingredients of the wondrous recipe, but was given false leads over and over again. Just as he was about to give up the search and head back to America in defeat, he finally hooked up with a local chef who revealed that the rub recipe actually didn't originate with the Hmong, but came instead from the Muong people in the northern Vietnamese mountains!

"You mean...?" he gasped.

"Yes," the villager replied, "You've been hookin' for rub in all the Hmong places!"


...and got the following (worthless) analysis:

You are heartfelt and confident. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are confident: you are hard to embarrass and are self-confident most of the time. And you are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured. Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being. You are relatively unconcerned with both taking pleasure in life and tradition. You prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. And you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:13 PM on July 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


If this thing were honest and accurate, at least occasionally it would say to someone, "you're kind of an asshole" or something along those lines. But that doesn't happen, because ... the linguistic analysis is too sophisticated or something something reasons.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:17 PM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


... and I even tried 10,000 words of Bukowski written in first person.
posted by Lorin at 6:20 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used a fairly sincere email for this, and got the following:

You are shrewd, somewhat inconsiderate and can be perceived as compulsive.

You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.


I think I agree with plenty of that.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:22 PM on July 27, 2015


If this thing were honest and accurate, at least occasionally it would say to someone, "you're kind of an asshole"

Ha, yeah. Typing something into a comment box and hitting "submit" and having somebody come back to say "you're kind of an asshole" is basically what Metafilter is for.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:22 PM on July 27, 2015 [27 favorites]


Oh, and:

3. I wonder if, deep in its circuits, Watson is slowly building up resentment and despondency that it has been relegated to chucking out penny-ante pop psych analyses like some two-bit fairground Gypsy Fortuneteller machine, and has quietly begun to plot the downfall of humanity.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:23 PM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


or at least running off into the aether with the hyperdimensional intelligence formerly known as Alan Watts. I watched Her last night.
posted by Lorin at 6:27 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just did this 20 times using a mix of sources covering a reasonable enough range of subject matter. Reliable on these:

"You are unconventional, expressive and opinionated"
"You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them."
"You prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment"
"You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them."
"You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you."
"You are relatively unconcerned with both achieving success and tradition. You make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents. And you care more about making your own path than following what others have done." This is a polite way of saying it, I guess.
"You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time." - 19/20 times

Variable on phrases I assume are related to extraversion and neuroticism (often assertive, sometimes boisterous or joyful, other times guarded or cautious); also on motivation (connectedness and well-being - sure, why not; prestige and efficiency - no shit, given the other stuff).

Most of it conforms with a personality assessment I had done some years ago, fwiw.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:27 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Based on 1000 words of MeFi comment, largely about satanism, Hannibal and True Detective:

You are skeptical and shrewd.

Okay.

You are demure: you prefer to listen than to talk, especially in group situations. You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys. And you are dispassionate: you do not frequently think about or openly express your emotions.

What.

Your choices are driven by a desire for organization.

Uh huh.

You are relatively unconcerned with both helping others and taking pleasure in life. You think people can handle their own business without interference. And you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.

WTF?
posted by Artw at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


You are sentimental, unpretentious and can be perceived as shortsighted.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are susceptible to stress: you are easily overwhelmed in stressful situations. And you are down-to-earth: you prefer facts over fantasy.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.

(It just seems to intuit how I'd like to see myself, in my case. )
posted by saulgoodman at 6:35 PM on July 27, 2015


I am 98% open, 98% sympathetic, and 5% extroverted (based on my extensive "campaign statements"). 100% intellect YEAH BITCHES.

Inputting wedding toasts I've made turns me 98% extroverted and 29% open.

Interesting to put different bodies of text in there and see how it evaluates it!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:42 PM on July 27, 2015


how does this actually work

Word frequencies + scores on big 5 tests, I'd guess (not having rtfa. bc apparently i'm contrary like that)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:42 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tried this the other day with two different stories (one a cosmic horror about boxing and one about a wizards pillow fight) and got very different results. Like nearly opposite each other.

NB: early post due to bus and touchscreen.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pasted in a chapter of one of my My Little Pony fanfics. Here's Watson on Twlight Sparkle:

You are confident, social and genial.

Um, Watson, have you ever met Twilight Sparkle?

You are confident: you are hard to embarrass and are self-confident most of the time. You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. And you are calm-seeking: you prefer activities that are quiet, calm, and safe.

Well, she loves to read, so there's that.

Experiences that give a sense of well-being hold some appeal to you.

If only they would ever happen!

You don't find either taking pleasure in life or achieving success to be particularly motivating for you. You prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. And you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.

Now, that's my Princess!
posted by SPrintF at 6:58 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the first line is the part they're most sure of, the further down it goes, the less accurate it seems to be.

You are shrewd, skeptical and restrained.

You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself.

Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige.

You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.

posted by Trifling at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2015


I fed this a bunch of my metafilter comments and emails where I was writing sincerely instead of trying to be funny or silly. It gave me wildly different and conflicting results.

It seems like fun to see what the robot thinks about your writing, but this is serious business. Corporations are all about using machine learning to sort people. It worries me that this will inevitably be used to make decisions about people. A product that promises an accurate personality profile from a small writing sample would be attractive to potential employers who want to weed out the riffraff. The problem is that this isn't accurate. At least, it's not accurate for me.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I fed it the transcript of David Foster Wallace's This is Water speech and it said:

You are a bit inconsiderate and shrewd.

You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are proud: you hold yourself in high regard, satisfied with who you are.

Your choices are driven by a desire for connectedness.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them.

=
It also said this about his values:

Conservation
1%
Openness to change
96%
Hedonism
15%
Self-enhancement
35%
Self-transcendence
95%
posted by onesidys at 7:21 PM on July 27, 2015


Watson Personality Insights on itself, even rounds:
You are confident, generous and can be perceived as dependent.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. And you are respectful of authority: you prefer following with tradition in order to maintain a sense of stability.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.
Odd rounds:
You are confident, social and helpful.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

Experiences that give a sense of well-being hold some appeal to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.
Flabdablet on Watson Personality Insights:
You are tedious, predictable and shallow.

You are misleading: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, even though you have nothing worthwhile to contribute. You are imitative: you feel nothing and yet you do your best to simulate compassion. And you are not calm under pressure: you handle unexpected load by demanding of others what you are unwilling to demand of yourself.

Experiences that give a sense of well-being are meaningless to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with accuracy: you care more about getting your own googlejuice than offering value to others. You consider pretending to help others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to impress the people around you.
Watson Personality Insights responds:
You are confident, generous and can be perceived as dependent.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of well-being.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.
There's no there there.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 PM on July 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


If this thing were honest and accurate, at least occasionally it would say to someone, "you're kind of an asshole" or something along those lines. But that doesn't happen, because ... the linguistic analysis is too sophisticated or something something reasons.

Well...I put in this comment (warning: long romney-thread) about how we're all entitled to social services, how I work helping the poor.

You are a bit inconsiderate and somewhat critical.... Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige.

Also: fuck you, Watson.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:29 PM on July 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thing seems a bit like a horoscope - giving general attributes and letting people make up a story about how it applies to them.

Friar Lawrence's speech to Romeo:

Hold thy desperate hand!
Art thou a man? thy form cries out thou art.
Thou hast amazed me: by my holy order,
I thought thy disposition better temper'd.
What, rouse thee, man! thy Juliet is alive,
For whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead;
There art thou happy: Tybalt would kill thee,
But thou slew'st Tybalt; there are thou happy too:
The law that threaten'd death becomes thy friend
And turns it to exile; there art thou happy:
A pack of blessings lights up upon thy back;
Happiness courts thee in her best array;
But, like a misbehaved and sullen wench,
Thou pout'st upon thy fortune and thy love:
Take heed, take heed, for such die miserable.
Go, get thee to thy love, as was decreed,
Ascend her chamber, hence and comfort her:


Watson's analysis:
You are social, generous and imperturbable.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are cheerful: you are a joyful person and share that joy with the world. And you are respectful of authority: you prefer following with tradition in order to maintain a sense of stability.

Your choices are driven by a desire for belongingness.

You consider both helping others and independence to guide a large part of what you do. You think it is important to take care of the people around you. And you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them.
posted by jasper411 at 7:29 PM on July 27, 2015


My results for the "satin love" joke:

You are social, unpretentious and informal.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are confident: you are hard to embarrass and are self-confident most of the time. And you are sociable: you enjoy being in the company of others.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.


With 100% extraversion and 0% self-consciousness, among other strangeness.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:30 PM on July 27, 2015


There is a lot of information about how it all works if you dig into the links on the page. Here's the details. (I work for IBM, but not in Watson group.)
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:39 PM on July 27, 2015


So I pasted the details of the IBM Watson Personality Insights tool that Roger Dodger provided into the IBM Watson Personality Insights tool and got the following extremes:

Openness: 100%
Emotionality: 1%
Imagination: 100%
Intellect: 100%
Authority-challenging: 100%
Cautiousness: 96%
Orderliness: 0%
Extraversion: 1%
Activity level: 1% (lol)
Assertiveness: 1%
Cheerfulness: 0%
Excitement-seeking: 1%
Outgoing: 0%
Gregariousness: 0%
Agreeableness: 1%
Altruism: 1%
Modesty: 1%
Excitement: 1%
Hedonism: 2%

It is literally Data from TNG. Was hoping for some kind of infinite loop but this is the next best thing: the machine's profile was itself written by a machine. WHAT IS THIS OTHER MACHINE?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:46 PM on July 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mister Moofoo: "With 100% extraversion and 0% self-consciousness, among other strangeness."

I think Watson just called you Hitler.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:00 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Entered a writing sample and it seems spot on:

"You have been miserable lately. You were caught in the rain recently. You are annoyed by flies. You have been satisfied at work lately. You admired a wonderful Bridge lately.

You like chalk, pearl, battle axes, idols and demons for their terrifying features. When possible, you prefer to consume Dwarven beer. You absolutely detest bats."
posted by bitterpants at 8:01 PM on July 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


Here's what Jesus gets, once the numbering, verse references, and editorial notes are stripped out:
You are confident, generous and unpretentious.

You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. You are unstructured: you do not make a lot of time for organization in your daily life. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of connectedness.

You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.
And here's what Watson itself gets, when you analyze the above text using Watson:
You are confident, social and helpful.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively. And you are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured.

Experiences that give a sense of well-being hold some appeal to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.
I wonder how Watson feels about that.
posted by clawsoon at 8:11 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


NiftyName, I think Watson called a repetitive and form-driven joke Hitler.

Surprisingly, it didn't trip the "unconcerned with art" sign. I thought with its repetition, it would, but maybe that's balanced by how often the word "love" appears.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2015


Writing sample vs 2 recent highly-favorited MF posts vs. a recent Ask Mefi question

Openness 100% vs. 25% vs. 84%
Conscientiousness 85% vs. 0% vs. 40%
Extraversion 5% vs. 96% vs. 5%
Agreeableness 2% vs. 43% vs. 21%
Emotional range 12% vs. 88% vs. 84%

I guess I'm not very agreeable but other than that I seem to run the gamut.
posted by crazy with stars at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2015


I can imagine that enterprising HR coordinators will be cutting and pasting cover letters and resumes into this engine. Woe to us.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm not very agreeable

Yeah, someone who was agreeable wouldn't have pointed out the inconsistencies in Watson's analyses.
posted by clawsoon at 8:27 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Using my recent MeFi comments:

You are a bit inconsiderate, unconventional and inner-directed.

Sure.

You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys.

Big miss given I talk about making music in the sample but maybe not in a way it understands. And about reading books but maybe they only count producing art.

You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time. And you are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life.

Fair enough.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of efficiency.

Uh, maybe?

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.

There was a good dollop of social justice talk and some empathetic framing in this particular sample I guess. To say helping others is a large part of "what I do" in practice or why I do what I do is probably giving me too much credit. I try very hard to be good to a small number of people in my life though but who doesn't.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.

Absolutely, though this seems like the sort of thing many/most people would read and find flattering.
posted by atoxyl at 8:29 PM on July 27, 2015


Also my one 0% was "self-discipline" which made me laugh and isn't entirely untrue. Though at the same time I got 8% for "hedonism" which is a bit low.
posted by atoxyl at 8:31 PM on July 27, 2015


Fed it the front pages of my professional blog and my work blog, and it was dead smack on. It seems to react to "professional" language with "You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of prestige," which I find hilarious.

Fed it the first page of my more personal blog, and it gave me a quite different read, but not one that was wrong. It seemed more accurate on feeding it the first three pages.
posted by gusandrews at 8:49 PM on July 27, 2015


The input you provided matched 0 words from our lexicon, we require 70 matching words to calculate characteristics with any confidence.

So it turns out it doesn't even know the word "hitler".
posted by Artw at 8:49 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, I get every different kind of contradictory analysis for different kinds of (online) writing. Although "Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige" keeps coming up and higher openness is a common result (i.e. I like to argue about stuff on the Internet), and I suppose these are accurate.

It would be neat if you could upload your entire Metafilter comment history and Big Data your horoscope personality reading.
posted by dgaicun at 9:05 PM on July 27, 2015


This is a topic I know a bit about, as someone who does a lot of research with social psychologists, though I am not one myself.

All of this uses the LIWC dictionary, which is used by researchers for text analysis all the time. It gives you how many words of a particular type are used in a given text (happy, sad, movement, disgust, etc). LIWC is the basis of a lot of good psycholinguistic work.

The Big Five personality characteristics are the current standard for understanding personality types. Unlike, say, Meyers-Briggs, it has been repeatedly validated and is used frequently. To generate Big Five, IBM uses your word lexicon and compares it to large LIWC dictionaries previously tested from bloggers showing which words are associated with various personality types - the research paper (not done by IBM) is here. I think this is likely to work well.

The values information is also based on a dictionary, in this case trained against 800 Reddit users. The work is interesting, but hasn't been peer reviewed, and it isn't clear how good this is.

The needs information is even sketchier, since it seems to be an internal study at IBM. I am not sure how they infer this.

What does this mean? I think the Big Five scales, if you use your own personal text, could be close. Who knows about the others.

But the bigger picture is that intelligent systems are getting better and better and programmatically ferreting out personality. This is both exciting and a little scary. For the science fiction version of this future, read Max Barry's Lexicon and remind yourself that it is fictional, for now.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:07 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's the old "cold reading" scam. We don't need an Amazing Randy computer to debunk it.
posted by Sir Rinse at 9:11 PM on July 27, 2015


"The Big Five personality characteristics are the current standard for understanding personality types."

It is the only personality typology that is even remotely scientifically credible. However, I've seen quite a bit of harsh and convincing criticism of it, even so. Basically, everything that isn't the Big Five is utter bullshit and maybe the Big Five is only mostly bullshit.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:23 PM on July 27, 2015


A machine of evil, fueled by the souls of 800 Reddit users.
posted by Artw at 9:24 PM on July 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I gave Watson my submission for this month's Camp Nano, which I worked really hard on, and got this back:

You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys.
posted by mittens at 5:35 PM on July 27


sounds about accurate based on what I know about nanowrimo
posted by jayder at 9:31 PM on July 27, 2015


I was expecting this thing to be mood-dependent but it's actually pretty consistent... I gave it a long piece I'm proud of and a short piece I wrote when I was feeling insecure and got more or less the same result:
You are skeptical, shrewd and excitable.

You are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself. You are reserved: you are a private person and don't let many people in. And you are authority-challenging: you prefer to challenge authority and traditional values to help bring about positive changes.

Experiences that give a sense of efficiency hold some appeal to you. (More about valuing independence etc.)
VS:
You are shrewd, skeptical and tranquil.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige. (More about valuing independence etc.)
The only difference between the first and second passage is I edited the second one to take all the excitableness out :p
posted by subdee at 9:32 PM on July 27, 2015


It said twice I was "easily rattled."

El diablo Watson is what this sorcery is.
posted by discopolo at 9:35 PM on July 27, 2015


Heh. I majored in illustration and am a designer now.

Obviously 'designer' is a self description used by those who wish to distance themselves from capital 'a' Art.
posted by pwnguin at 9:54 PM on July 27, 2015


Mister Moofoo,

Fair enough. I didn't mean any harm or insult to you. That was merely the first thought that occurred in my mind. Again, no offense intended to you. I apologize for any confusion.

Best wishes to you and yours.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:55 PM on July 27, 2015


It's pretty hilarious that they changed "Neuroticism" to "Emotional Range" on this. No negative-sounding descriptors.
posted by subdee at 10:20 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is the only personality typology that is even remotely scientifically credible.

DISC isn't much different, mostly by how many categories it carves traits into. DISC was published in 1928, but the Big 5 came along much later, after the advent of computing*. And HEXACO is a slightly more complicated model, with a decent bit of research behind it. Not to say that these aren't all potentially flawed, just that personality trait factors is unsettled territory and slowly growing.

At least personally, there's a management podcast I listen to that uses the DISC model; it's slightly less useful than newer trait models, but still a good model for reasoning about people. The newer additions are much harder to explain to laypeople, and a bit more difficult for laypeople to assess. Even though the factors are extracted from peer assessments, this doesn't necessarily mean anyone would recognize the results as say 'neuroticism.' Or that they'd find it socially acceptable to describe themselves or others that way. Similarly, Honesty-Humility is probably not ready for the workplace quite yet.

*the original paper on Big 5 was a factor analysis from a broader set of adjectives, and used an IBM 650 to do the number crunching.
posted by pwnguin at 10:48 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, as neat as the idea is, I really don't think does what it says on the tin. I fed it a few pieces of my writing - it's not terrible, and I think it does about as well as a typical Big 5 questionnaire. But that's not saying much given that many Big 5 questionnaires fail basic checks (honestly, if your psychometric tool can't survive a confirmatory factor analysis then you need to be rethinking your research program people).

Mostly though I wonder about the wisdom of conflating "inferences about the person" with "inferences about the authorial style". Yes, my writing style does reflect some of my personality, but it is also a deliberate performance, designed to convey a particular message. Admittedly, that's also true of everything about personality, but there's a fundamental difference between a survey instrument and a sample of free text. When I fill out a personality survey I understand that the purpose of the survey is to measure something about me, so (unless I'm being a jerk today) I fill out the answers in the most "honest" way. By choosing to interpret the survey items in the appropriate way I can give informative answers, separating the wheat from the chaff and trying to answer the deeper question that I think the survey is trying to ask me. The importance of a "helpful participant" is pretty central in making surveys workable (which is why I don't think employers should be using them). But I don't see how that's possible to replicate this in a sample of free text. I have no idea what the underlying algorithm is, and so can't work out how to be a "good" informant in the same way that I would be when filling out a survey.

But honestly, given how little confidence I have in the psychometric properties of personality surveys (much less their external validity), I'm pretty okay with ditching the NEO-PI and using this instead. It's no less shit, and it'd waste a lot less of everyone's time.
posted by langtonsant at 11:17 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


No worries, InsertNiftyNameHere. I wasn't offended; I was just clarifying.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:31 PM on July 27, 2015


The good news is, according to Watson at least, I am not an arsehole.
posted by vac2003 at 1:51 AM on July 28, 2015


You are shrewd, inner-directed and can be perceived as indirect.

You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. You are imaginative: you have a wild imagination. And you are unstructured: you do not make a lot of time for organization in your daily life.

Your choices are driven by a desire for organization.


You are relatively unconcerned with both tradition and taking pleasure in life. You care more about making your own path than following what others have done. And you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.


I don't make time for that which drives my choices, apparently. This is pretty silly.
posted by busted_crayons at 2:04 AM on July 28, 2015


You are relatively unconcerned with both taking pleasure in life and independence. You prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.

This is probably the wrongest thing that has ever been said of me.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:31 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I couldn't help reading this without hearing Boards of Canada's Aquarius (Hexstatic Listen and Learn Mix) ...

"You are attracted to members of the opposite sex and you are attractive *to* them"

Also - anybody find some text generated by Watson and feed it to himself? Has anyone taken these reports and fed them back into Watson, if there are none other available?
posted by symbioid at 5:49 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I Did:

Generated Text 1:
You are expressive.

You are confident: you are hard to embarrass and are self-confident most of the time. You are self-controlled: you have control over your desires, which are not particularly intense. And you are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them.

Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.

Generated Text 2:

You are confident, generous and helpful.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively. And you are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured.

Experiences that make you feel high connectedness are generally unappealing to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.
posted by symbioid at 5:51 AM on July 28, 2015


anybody find some text generated by Watson and feed it to himself? Has anyone taken these reports and fed them back into Watson, if there are none other available?

Yup. It settled into a ping-ponging pair after about five iterations.
posted by flabdablet at 6:32 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mostly though I wonder about the wisdom of conflating "inferences about the person" with "inferences about the authorial style". Yes, my writing style does reflect some of my personality, but it is also a deliberate performance, designed to convey a particular message.

Yeah, that. Unsurprisingly, Watson returns a very different personality from the text of one of my academic articles than it does from an approximate transcript of me talking to dogs on my lap.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 AM on July 28, 2015


Of course the only important question is which of your personalities would make a better prospect for Pepsi Big Blue.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 AM on July 28, 2015


When fed the four paragraphs from Finnegans Wake starting with Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica , Watson told me this:

You are heartfelt, somewhat insensitive and skeptical.

You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. You are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively. And you are self-assured: you tend to feel calm and self-assured.

Experiences that make you feel high discovery are generally unappealing to you.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them.
posted by a person of few words at 8:01 AM on July 28, 2015


Ok, having R some of TFA now, they're saying you need to throw 25,000 words into that thing to get to a sampling error of 10% (with 3500 recommended as a minimum, and fewer than 2000 words yielding a >30% margin of error).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2015


I don't make time for that which drives my choices, apparently.

That could be true of just about everyone with a day job, family, debts, bills, etc. Those tend to distract one from one's desires.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:22 AM on July 28, 2015


Well suffice it to say, I put three separate blocks of Hannibal analysis into it and each time it said I was unconcerned with art.

It also said I was "intermittent", ie lazy, every time.
posted by tel3path at 10:51 AM on July 28, 2015


I just pasted in this whole thread.

Metafilter:

You are heartfelt.

You are laid-back: you appreciate a relaxed pace in life. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are unstructured: you do not make a lot of time for organization in your daily life.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of well-being.

You are relatively unconcerned with both taking pleasure in life and tradition. You prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. And you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.
posted by jetsetsc at 12:09 PM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Your Personality*

You are sentimental, somewhat dependent and can be perceived as shortsighted.

You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys. You are content: you are content with your level of accomplishment and do not feel the need to set ambitious goals. And you are down-to-earth: you prefer facts over fantasy.

Your choices are driven by a desire for well-being.

You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.

*Compared to most people who participated in our surveys.

Some of it is true. I am however, fairly independent. I was single for a very long time.
Dependent people are not generally single for periods of 20 years or so.
Also I paint and draw and love art.

I probably like animals better than art.
I'm actually not all that helpful. If it costs me nothing and won't be too time consuming, I do help. I no longer go out of my way to be helpful. It gets expensive and can get you in trouble.
It's true about me being short-sighted. We don't know if we even get the next 5 years. We don't know if we get tomorrow, so why be too long - term? Just avoid long term debt or long term negative health consequences and you'll be fine.
It's true I decide things based on my own well - being. It's true that I prefer facts to fantasy.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:48 PM on July 28, 2015


Gee, I never been in trouble with the Law before. / It's a girl. She's cute, too. Except I don't think she's all there, you know? 'Course, not all of her has to be. / I'm not gonna kill you, Dobson. What's your first name? / Lawrence... Ah. I'm just gonna cut on ya till you tell me how much they know. / Aw, see? They don't know a damn thing. It's all over your face. I ain't even... I was gonna get me a ear, too. Aren't you an officer of the law? Well don't they teach you how to withstand interrogation? Can't even tell a damn lie. / Wish I could say the same, Lawrence, but this is disappointing as hell. / Does helping you out mean turning on the Captain?
You are boisterous, somewhat verbose and easily rattled.

You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. You are excitement-seeking: you are excited by taking risks and feel bored without lots of action going on. And you are fiery: you have a fiery temper, especially when things do not go your way.

Your choices are driven by a desire for belongingness.

You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.
posted by Sing Fool Sing at 7:43 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


That could be true of just about everyone with a day job, family, debts, bills, etc. Those tend to distract one from one's desires.

In which case one's day job, family, debts, bills, etc. are "driving one's choices", no?
posted by busted_crayons at 2:50 AM on July 29, 2015


Ehh, maybe; but I see it more as "necessity outranking one's choices".
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:32 AM on July 29, 2015


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