New Online Tool Can Map Your Personality

The tool analyzes Facebook posts and parses their language structure to deduce a user’s personality.
The tool analyzes Facebook posts and parses their language structure to deduce a user’s personality. –Laura Reston/Boston.com staff

You click a button, the computer wurrs, and out comes a spidery pentagon that claims to map your personality.

That pentagon is the product of a software startup called Five, which launched the personality-mapping tool Tuesday. The company analyzes Facebook posts and parses their language structure to deduce a user’s personality.

The website then maps your personality on five axes that correspond to five character traits—extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

According to Business Insider, the five traits were drawn from a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, which identified those traits as the “Big Five’’.

The site also lets you see which of the personality prognoses of your friends and compare your compatibility. It also includes the personalities of major figures, who range from Barack Obama to Mahatma Gandhi.

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I, for example, was classified as spontaneous and analytical—a deduction drawn from my exceedingly sparse Facebook presence. Five Labs also told me that I am 54 percent similar to Andy Warhol, while (shockingly!) only 8 percent similar to Oprah Winfrey.

Five Labs founder Nikita Bier told the New York Times Wednesday that he has seen an initially strong response to the tool. According to a Facebook post by Bier, 45 million people created profiles to have their personalities analyzed during the first 24 hours that the tool was live.

The tool obviously has some flaws (its prognoses seemed wildly off base for a few of my Facebook friends). And the wild enrollment may owe more to the site’s seamless design than the quality of its personality predictions.

But what’s creepiest and perhaps most enlightening about the tool is that it offers a look at what major companies like Google and Facebook may be able to deduce from looking at our behavior online.

Those companies have developed increasingly sophisticated tools to quantify user personalities and preferences in recent years and at least this tool offers us a window into how a company could do that.

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