K-State psychology professor’s research finds AI chatbot can infer personality – WIBW

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A Kansas State University psychology professor’s research finds that an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot can infer someone’s personality.
Kansas State University officials said personality tests are a popular job candidate selection tool, but they often rely on self-reported measures that can be biased, inaccurate or fake. A collaborative research team that includes a K-State psychologist found that AI could help with this task.
K-State officials indicated Tianjun Sun, assistant professor of psychological sciences in K-State’s College of Arts and Sciences, is part of the research team that conducted a study with more than 1,500 undergraduate students to determine whether a person’s conversation with an AI chatbot could extract personality-related information.
According to K-State officials, the study, “How well can an AI chatbot infer personality?: Examining psychometric properties of machine-inferred personality scores,” was recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Officials with K-State said Sun is a co-leading author with researchers from Auburn University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of South Florida-St. Petersburg and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The American Psychological Association also designated the article as a high-impact article.
Staff at K-State indicated to examine the properties of the AI personality scores, the researchers had each participant engage in a conversation with an AI chatbot for 20-30 minutes and complete a self-reported personality assessment for comparison. Grade point average and peer-rated college adjustment were used to measure personality outcomes. Researchers also used participants’ chat responses to train the AI to predict the self-reported personality scores.
According to officials with K-State, the researchers found that AI personality scores satisfied many of the standards that help researchers evaluate the quality of a psychological test. The scores were consistent and similar to the self-reported personality measures. In some analyses, like when measuring the ability of extroversion to predict GPA and college adjustment, AI scores had predictive power that extended beyond self-reported personality scores.
“Our study provides promising support for the future of machine learning techniques in personality assessment,” said Sun. “As these techniques become more common in employee selection, organizations should be aware that this might help them save time and still accurately measure personality. More research is needed to learn whether it is fair to minority groups or susceptible to faking and its legal and ethical implications.”
K-State officials said Sun is an expert in industrial-organizational psychology and studies personnel selection, individual differences and quantitative methods. She is passionate about the responsible use of psychometric tools and advanced technology to improve psychological sciences and solve organizational problems.
Officials with K-State noted the university’s psychological sciences department seeks to better understand the diversity of human experience that drives behavior and the mind’s mechanisms underlying behavior. The faculty and students conduct research in industrial/organizational and social/personality psychology, behavioral neuroscience/animal learning, and cognitive/human factors. The department’s Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity, which is supported by $21.8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, focuses on plasticity, or how organisms respond to change.
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