Eyes are the windows to the personality | A Moment of Science – Indiana Public Media

D: Y’know, Yaël, poets say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul.

Y: Don, there is now scientific evidence to support the truth of this ancient saying.

D: Really, what kind of evidence?

Y: In 2018 an international team of researchers published research indicating a link between personality traits and eye movement patterns. The researchers used a mobile, head-mounted device to track the eye movements of forty two students while they performed a series of activities on campus. Then they gave them a standard questionnaire that assessed the traits of their personalities.

D: But eye movement patterns are really complicated. How did the scientists ever manage to sift through all that data to find the link between eye movements and personality?

Y: That’s the thing that makes the study novel. The researchers analyzed their data using a machine learning artificial intelligence computer program. The program was able to find meaningful correlations between eye movement patterns and some major parameters of personality that have been identified by psychologists, like neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. These are patterns that the scientists might not have been able to find without the help of the program. The finding is an important breakthrough in social neuroscience. It may tell us something about the cues that people use unconsciously to assess other people’s personalities in everyday interactions.

D: I imagine it will also be important for making robots that can interpret human social signals and understand the personalities of the humans they interact with.

Y: Yes, this sort of application makes developers of robot technologies very excited. It may also have important, and even scary, applications for surveillance.

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