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We know everything about you

We know what you are, what you did, and also what you will do. 

Psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology.

We are all competing with one another, as individuals, groups, organisations and nations. If one can get hold of information and analyse it correctly, that can be used to deadly advantage over competitors and enemies. Those who have this capability, will possess great strategic leverage.

This capability or weapon is 'Psychometrics'.
Psychometrics, sometimes also called psychographics, focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the 'Big 5' or the acronym OCEAN These are: 
  • Openness (how open you are to new experiences?), 
  • Conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), 
  • Extroversion (how sociable are you?), 
  • Agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and 
  • Neuroticism (are you easily upset?). 

Based on these dimensions - its possible to make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person being tested. This includes their needs and fears, and how they are likely to behave. The 'Big 5' has become the standard technique of psychometrics. 

The field of 'Psychometrics'  analyses not only what we say or do, but what our orientation is, what we are thinking and what we are likely to do. 

So you may ask, if its been around for such a long time, why is it suddenly so powerful or important?

For a long time, the problem with Psychometrics was data collection. It involved respondents willingly and honestly filling out a complicated, highly personal questionnaire. The surveys involved enormous paper work and then huge amount of collation and analysis. This was complicated, expensive and very time consuming work.

 Then came the Internet, Social media, Facebook and Kosinski.

No one knowingly provides information if they were aware that it might be used against them.  Yet we unknowingly and willingly, broadcast continuously, a treasure trove of information about ourselves, thanks to our usage of internet and social media. How so?

Everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every "like" is stored. Especially every "like." For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we've Googled "reduce blood pressure."

Psychologist Michael Kosinski developed a method that automatically collects, and analyses, in minute detail, data of Facebook activity of a person. They can then provide a fairly accurate profiles of a user.

How accurate is the analysis?

In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook "likes" by a user, it was possible to predict their skin colour (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to a political party (85 percent). But it didn't stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether someone's parents were divorced.

Further refining the methodology and program, Kosinski at Cambridge University in 2014, has been able to fairly accurately evaluate a person as follows,
  • With just 10 Facebook likes,  they will know more than a person's work colleagues 
  • With 70 likes they will know more than their friends
  • With 150 likes they will know more than their parents
  • With 300 likes more than the partner.
  • With more like even surpass a person knows about themselves.

Not only 'likes',  but also by how many profile pictures a person has on Facebook, or how many contacts they have  reveal something about ourselves even when we're not online. For example, the motion sensor on our phone reveals how quickly we move and how far we travel. Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.


How powerful is it?
Extremely powerful. It has helped turn the world upside down. 
A little-known British company issued a press release claiming that its use of  data-driven communication had played such an integral part in President-elect Trump's extraordinary win, and also the 'Brexit' vote outcome.
Kosinski, who made this possible warned against the danger of misusing Psychometry for psychological targeting.  
"No," says Kosinski, quietly and shaking his head.  
"This is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I only showed that it exists."


We clamour for freedom, independence and privacy. Yet this is greatly threatened by  increasingly private corporations, businesses, and governments who now know so much about each of us on what we did, am doing and likely to do in the future.

Some like to call it freedom., I wonder If that's the case.  


Image by Eiko Ojala
I am grateful to my friend, Ranga Bedi for providing me vital inputs.
Most information of the article was obtained from this source 
The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

Whether we individuals should be worried about cyber security can be viewed here_
Cyber security expert Mr Vijay Mukhi advising about taking security measures to protect ourselves


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