Wang, W., Harari, G. M., Wang, R., Müller, S. R., Mirjafari, S., Masaba, K., & Campbell, A. T. (2018) Sensing Behavioral Change over Time: Using Within-Person Variability Features from Mobile Sensing to Predict Personality Traits, Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 2 (3), doi>10.1145/3264951.
Personality traits describe individual differences in patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving (“between-person” variability). But individuals also show changes in their own patterns over time (“within-person” variability). Existing approaches to measuring within-person variability typically rely on self-report methods that do not account for fine-grained behavior change patterns (e.g., hour-by-hour). In this paper, we use passive sensing data from mobile phones to examine the extent to which within-person variability in behavioral patterns can predict self-reported personality traits. Data were collected from 646 college students who participated in a self-tracking assignment for 14 days. To measure variability in behavior, we focused on 5 sensed behaviors (ambient audio amplitude, exposure to human voice, physical activity, phone usage, and location data) and computed 4 within-person variability features (simple standard deviation, circadian rhythm, regularity index, and flexible regularity index). We identified a number of significant correlations between the within-person variability features and the self-reported personality traits. Finally, we designed a model to predict the personality traits from the within-person variability features. Our results show that we can predict personality traits with good accuracy. The resulting predictions correlate with self-reported personality traits in the range of r = 0.32, MAE = 0.45 (for Openness in iOS users) to r = 0.69, MAE = 0.55 (for Extraversion in Android users). Our results suggest that within-person variability features from smartphone data has potential for passive personality assessment.