Personality in Everyday Behavior
My primary research interests are all related to how people's personalities manifest themselves in everyday behavior. For a review of the various ways personality manifests in everyday life check out this book chapter that I coauthored.
Predicting Consumer Behavior
In both academic and industry settings I have studied the ways in which personality influences consumer behavior and preferences. These behaviors range from how a customer prefers to shop (e.g., browsing time) to how prone they are to promotions (e.g., sales and coupons) to what types of products they are drawn to (e.g., best sellers vs. one-of-a-kind items).
Surprisingly very little formal research has been conducted to understand the relationship between personality traits and consumer behavior. See this paper that I published in Psychology & Marketing in which I discuss the important issue of the power of demographic variables (a more traditional industry approach) versus personality traits in predicting purchasing behavior.
At MotiveMetrics I study the various ways that individual differences (e.g., personality traits, values, consumer traits, demographics) influence a consumer's decision to buy a product. For example, I have studied the key linguistic features and styles that resonate with certain personality profiles. Extraverts like to be spoken to differently than introverts. While extraverts resonate more with social messaging (e.g., "start a conversation!"), introverts prefer more calming messaging (e.g., "enjoy a night at home"). These and other findings are incredibly valuable to advertisers and marketers who want to understand how to make their content (e.g., search ads, newsletters, emails) more engaging to potential customers.
Automatic Personality Profiling
In another line of research, I explore the various ways in which personality manifests itself in virtual environments and how that data can be leveraged to gain insights about people. The virtual world is an ideal place to study human behavior because data is being collected in an objective and automated way previously unparalleled. Psychologists and other researchers are encountering massive amounts of data and have just begun scratching the surface of what can be learned about personality and social processes.
I am specifically interested in the predictive relationships between social (e.g., "liking", tagging) and communication (e.g., commenting, posting a status update, "tweeting") residue and personality traits. For my dissertation work, I conducted a study examining the effects of language on interpersonal perception in online communication environments. In collaboration with Sam Gosling and Jamie Pennebaker, I used quantitative linguistic analyses to identify communication patterns within Instant Messaging (IM) conversations. I then identified how those patterns related to interaction quality, personality traits, and person perception. One result that I found particularly interesting (though perhaps not surprising) was that people were better at guessing what their conversation partner was like if they chose to discuss deeper content (e.g., interests, activities) rather than more shallow content (e.g., geographical location, living situation).
In my work at MotiveMetrics I have developed algorithms which predict personality profiles based on publicly available linguistic and behavioral data. Our platform has measured and aggregated millions of consumers. We use this data to help brands and companies align products, messaging, and design to the motivations of their potential customers.
In a secondary line of research I am interested in developing innovative methods of measuring people and collecting data. I have recently published a paper devoted to the development and validation of two new brief measures of personal values. In another published paper my coauthors and I demonstrate an innovative scale abbreviation technique known as the Genetic Algorithm technique.
At MotiveMetrics I developed proprietary Image Selection Tasks (ISTs) in which participants click on a series of photo choices instead of text-based item questionnaires. With this methodology we improved the speed, accuracy, and cost effectiveness of consumer survey research. I also drove development of a consumer-facing quiz site for collecting psychological data. Previously, I have also consulted on a myriad of measurement and personality assessment projects (e.g., questionnaires for an online dating startup, personality assessment for voir dire).