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Journal Article

Modeling Personality vs. Modeling Personalidad: In-the-wild Mobile Data Analysis in Five Countries Suggests Cultural Impact on Personality Models


Sensor data collected from smartphones provides the possibility to passively infer a user’s personality traits. Such models can be used to enable technology personalization, while contributing to our substantive understanding of how human behavior manifests in daily life. A significant challenge in personality modeling involves improving the accuracy of personality inferences, however, research has yet to assess and consider the cultural impact of users’ country of residence on model replicability. We collected mobile sensing data and self-reported Big Five traits from 166 participants (54 women and 112 men) recruited in five different countries (UK, Spain, Colombia, Peru, and Chile) for 3 weeks. We developed machine learning based personality models using culturally diverse datasets – representing different countries – and we show that such models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy when tested in new countries, ranging from 63% (Agreeableness) to 71% (Extraversion) of classification accuracy. Our results indicate that using country-specific datasets can improve the classification accuracy between 3% and 7% for Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. We show that these findings hold regardless of gender and age balance in the dataset. Interestingly, using gender- or age- balanced datasets as well as gender-separated datasets improve trait prediction by up to 17%. We unpack differences in personality models across the five countries, highlight the most predictive data categories (location, noise, unlocks, accelerometer), and provide takeaways to technologists and social scientists interested in passive personality assessment.

Mohammed Khwaja
Sumer S. Vaid
Sara Zannone
Gabriella M. Harari
A. Aldo Faisal
Aleksandar Matic
Journal Name
Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Publication Date
September 9, 2019