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David Stillwell

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David Stillwell

Reader in Computational Social Science
Academic Director of the Psychometrics Centre

BSc, MSc, PhD (University of Nottingham)

Research interests

Psychometrics; psychology; decision-making; social networks.

Subject group: Organisational Behaviour

Professional experience

David’s research uses big data to understand psychology. He published papers showing using social media data from millions of consenting individuals to show that the computer can predict a user’s personality as accurately as their spouse can. Follow-up research found that personalising an advert to the recipient’s psychology is more effective than generic ads.

This research has important public policy implications. Do consumers prefer their online experieces to be customised? How should consumers’ data be used to target them? Should regulators step in, and if so how?

David has spoken at workshops organised by the EU Data Protection Supervisor, by the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel, to UK government regulators, and to the Bank of England. His research has also been cited by many governments’ national data protection regulators worldwide.

David has also published research using various big data sources such as credit card data and textual data to show that spending money on products and services that match one’s personality leads to greater life satisfaction, that people tend to date others who have a similar personality, and that people who swear seem to be more honest.

David does consultancy on the topics of psychometrics, people analytics, and big data. He has worked on projects with companies including Amazon Payments, Barclays, Hilton Hotels, RBS, Shell, and Ubisoft.

Selected publications

Visit David Stillwell’s profile on Google Scholar

While you watch the TV, the TV watches you

Four key principles for companies to use data targeting in a positive way. By Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data…

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No more ‘average’ consumer

Matching advertising images to personality traits can find the most suitable image for a particular customer and help win sales, finds a…

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How effective is psychological targeting in advertising? What we can learn about you from just one click.

Dr Sandra Matz, a former PhD student at Cambridge now based at Columbia University, and her co-authors, including Dr David Stillwell from…

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A quicker test for depression

When it comes to assessing depression, the usual paper-based questionnaires are long and frustrating for patients. University of Cambridge researchers found that…

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Opposites really DON’T attract

Study shows that ‘birds of a feather do flock together’ – finally providing scientific backing for the idea that people seek romantic…

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Is your profile picture ‘smart’?

Algorithms can predict a person's intelligence based on social network photos as accurately as humans can and without faulty stereotyping, says study…

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Frankly, do we give a damn…? Study finds links between swearing and honesty

It's long been associated with anger and coarseness but profanity can have another, more positive connotation. Psychologists have learned that people who…

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Facebook updates could provide a window to understanding – and treating – mental health disorders

Our Facebook status updates, 'likes' and even photos could help researchers better understand mental health disorders with the right ethical safeguards, argue…

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There really is a link between your Facebook posts and your personality

by Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science, Cambridge Judge Business School Privacy campaigners this week…

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‘Data’ and popcorn

New exhibit at the Science Museum in London features research about our Big Data by Dr David Stillwell of Cambridge Judge Business…

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Publico: The scientist who exposed the power of Facebook

Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge Business School, published an article in…

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Live Mint: Opinion: How the internet could end up wrecking Indian democracy

Research co-authored by Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge Business School, is…

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RSVP Live: Study finds foul mouthed people are more likely to be honest and trustworthy

Psychologists have learned that people who frequently curse are being more honest, according to a study co-authored by Dr David Stillwell, University…

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New Scientist: I exposed how online profiling leaves us open to mass persuasion

Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge Business School, talks about social media…

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Wired: This algorithm knows how you will vote based on the car you drive

Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge Business School, comments on a study…

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MSN: This is what swearing says about you

Psychologists have learned that people who frequently curse are being more honest, according to a study co-authored by Dr David Stillwell, University…

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BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: The Naked Scientists

Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics and Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge, talks about research that says freely…

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The Guardian: One Facebook ‘like’ is all it takes to target adverts, academics find

Just one Facebook ‘like’ is enough for brands to start sending targeting advertisement to users. The study co-authored by Dr David Stillwell,…

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Business Insider: What Facebook ‘likes’ say about you

Research co-authored by Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge, finds that Facebook…

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Birmingham Mail: People who swear a lot are more honest

Psychologists have learned that people who frequently curse are being more honest, according to a study co-authored by Dr David Stillwell, University…

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Contact details

David Stillwell
Cambridge Judge Business School
University of Cambridge
Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1AG
UK

Tel: +44 (0)1223 339687

[email protected]