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Big data analytics

The development of the internet and social networks has led to a revolution in psychometrics. Assessments of achievement, ability, personality, motivation and intention that used to require many hours of tedious questionnaire completion can now be made in seconds by simple interpretations of the digital footprints we all leave behind.

As a result of the pioneering work carried out by Dr David Stillwell, Deputy Director of the Psychometrics Centre, we now have at our fingertips the world’s largest collection of over six million psychological and social media profiles. The Centre’s team of psychometricians and software engineers has transformed this resource into a suite of high-impact algorithms and interfaces to deliver accurate psychological prediction in real-time.

There are applications across a variety of sectors, ranging from marketing and advertising to crime detection and health management.

Psychological marketing with big data

Psychological marketing with big data

By analysing aspects of a given user’s online behaviour, our Apply Magic Sauce application can forecast a range of personal characteristics that include happiness, intelligence, political orientation and more, as well as generating personality profiles, and all of this in real-time. We can generate these insights from a range of digitised behaviour, including Facebook “likes” (encompassing brand preference, music listening history and much more) and from Open Text (such as the language used in tweets or emails).

When implemented in online advertising, we have demonstrated impressive results in terms of click-through-rates, return-on-investment and social engagement. For example, together with Hilton Honours and Grayling we co-launched several user-facing applications powered by Apply Magic Sauce. The Holiday Matchmaker app was the first of its kind to give travellers feedback on their psychological profile based on their Facebook Likes. It also suggested personalised holiday destinations and recommended ideal travel companions.

Within three months the app had reached 3.7 million users, with 60,000 people receiving feedback on their traveller types. If you think your organisation might benefit from such an approach, why not discuss your ideas with

Risk assessment and internal threat detection

Banks and other financial institutions are increasingly coming under scrutiny by regulators to show that they have efficient mechanisms in place to ensure compliance, and to identify those whose ethical practices present a risk to the organisation’s reputation.

We have designed procedures to computationally identify the prevalence of personality and integrity traits such as narcissism, Machiavellianism and borderline personality disorder – the so-called ‘dark triad’.

By analysing internal communications, such as emails, we can offer more effective and interpretable threat detection to many modern systems that suffer from high numbers of ‘false positives’. While ethical and privacy issues can only remain at the forefront, the ability of modern psychometric devices to alert leadership to critical changes in behaviour can no longer be ignored. Let us help inform and equip your leadership to navigate this increasingly complex area of risk and people management.

Psychological analyses of online footprints

We have pioneered the fields of online psychometrics and digital footprint analysis. Our systems can assess and interpret the words people use in their social network status updates, alongside other aspects of their profile, in order to predict their traits and future behaviours.

We have shown that not only are these predictions from digital footprints good, they are in fact superior to predictions from our friends, family and colleagues under the widely accepted 360-degree feedback model. Visit the Psychometrics Centre website to read more about our work in this area.

Training in big data methodology

Big data presents a number of challenges to an organisation, not least how to mine it for information and how to integrate this into existing administrative functions. Sadly, the expertise necessary to carry out these functions is rare and the demand for education and training in data analytics is high.

For businesses that need to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving commercial environment, we run workshops on the essentials of statistical modelling and machine learning that form the basis of contemporary data science.

We hold courses at both introductory and advanced level here in Cambridge and at locations of your choice. Participation is welcome from both commercial R&D staff and University academic enthusiasts.

Visit the Psychometrics Centre website to read more about our training solutions

Contact the team

Tel: +44 (0)1223 769483

[email protected]

Meet the team

Dr David Stillwell
Academic Director of the Psychometrics Centre

Vesselin Popov
Executive Director

Watch a webinar with Dr David Stillwell on how communications tailored to someone’s personality increases key metrics such as clicks and purchases, and leads to more advertising return on investment.

Watch the webinar

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