IT'S NOT EXACTLY NEWS that your phone can tell a lot about you, but it goes beyond the degree to which you check in on exes on Facebook and recreationally read Deliveroo menus.
A new study from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) suggests that the data picked up from your phone's accelerometer can correlate closely with personality types.
In the paper, published by the IEEE Computer Society, the researchers found that different activity patterns seem to follow the so-called 'Big Five personality traits': extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.
Participants were asked to fill in a personality survey and then have their phones tracked for the duration of the study. The researchers found that introverted types had more consistent movements in the evenings, while extroverts were more unpredictable - probably heading off for spur-of-the-moment meetings with people and so on. Agreeable types shared this, proving to be more active on weekends and weekday evenings than others.
While friendly and compassionate women made more outgoing calls than others, inventive and curious types used their phone's call function less than average. The most interesting reveal, however, was that while women who ticked the boxes for higher levels of sensitivity or neuroticism checked in on their phones frequently well into the night, the trend was reversed for men with the same traits.
Careful reading too much into this: not only was it a tiny study of just 52 people (the researchers tend to rectify this with a follow up), there are always risks in self-reporting because people aren't always the best judges of themselves. That's why suspected criminals don't run their own trials.
All the same, the researchers think that if the findings do continue to match in a larger study, it could mean useful things for the world of online dating and social networking, by bringing together more compatible people. Of course, it'll also be of great interest to advertisers, which feels considerably less utopian.
"I think the most exciting part is what we can learn about ourselves," said lead author Nan Gao. "Many of our habits and behaviours are unconscious but, when analysed, they tell us a lot about who we really are so we can understand ourselves better, resist social pressure to conform and to empathise with others.
"In Ancient Greece there is a saying about knowing yourself as the beginning of wisdom, applications like this can really help to reveal who we are to ourselves," she added.
If only Aristotle had an iPhone, eh? He'd have got so much more done. µ
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