By: Patricia Bertea
Eyes don’t lie indeed - Eye tracking can predict personality traits

Not only birds of a feather flock together, but also humans who move their eyes in a similar way. Why? Because, according to a recent study that used state-of-the-art eye tracking technology, people with similar traits have similar eye movements.

In 2018, scientists were able to predict through eye movements four of the Big Five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.

10 minutes can reveal more than you thought

It was known that eye movements can explain behavior and emotional states, but there was still an unanswered question: can eye tracking predict personality traits?

To answer this question, researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) gathered with researchers the University of Stuttgart, Flinders University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.

They implicated in the study 42 participants, which were asked to use a head-mounted eye tracker while performing daily usual tasks in their campus for about 10 minutes. After the eye tracking device was used, the participants were asked to fill in personality questionnaires. In the end, their conclusions were that yes, eye tracking can predict four of the five personality traits defined by Big Five.

It is worth mentioning that the main advantage of this study is the fact that it took place in a natural environment and not in a lab. This way, researchers were able to gather more natural data and therefore to offer better, closer-to-the-truth results.

Looking through the same glasses

Somehow, every personality type can be compared to a pair of glasses that show the same reality. What are the things that same traits people looking at? For example, in comparison with pessimists, optimist people give less attention to negative emotional stimuli.

The Big Five Traits are considered to be universal – one study found that they can accurately be used on more than 50 cultures. They have been adopted by companies and HR professionals in evaluating employees.

Importance of the study

Why are these findings important? Because they can improve the development of computers and robots in a way that it makes them more natural and able to understand human social cues. Moreover, companies can leverage these insights in order to offer better personalized experienced to their customers. In the years to come, we expect to see great advance in real time adaptation of content according to the users gaze.