The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul. And if that is true, computers and robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms may soon have the ability to peer into your soul. That is the result of a new study on the connection between eye movements and personality, conducted by neuroscience researchers based at the University of South Australia and published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
“Eye movements during an everyday task predict aspects of our personality,” wrote the researchers, led by University of South Australia neuroscientist Tobias Loetscher, whose team follows 42 study subjects around the university campus recording their eye movements, then determines their personality traits with “well-established questionnaires” for deterring personality type, according to a summary of the study published by the site Science Daily.
The researchers fed the data into their AI algorithms and found that computers running the algorithms were able to record human eye movements and immediately determine a person’s major personality traits, such as “neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, as well as perceptual curiosity,” the scientists wrote.
The new findings could improve the way human beings interact with their computers and other high-tech devices, even robots, allowing for more natural and realistic social interactions with machines, Loetscher said.
“People are always looking for improved, personalized services. Today’s robots and computers are not socially aware so they cannot adapt to non-verbal cues,” Loetscher said in a statement quoted by Indian Express. “This research provides opportunities to develop robots and computers so that they can become more natural, and better at interpreting human social signals.”
The study revealed previously undiscovered correlations between specific personality characteristics and specific eye movement tendencies, according to a summary in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.
People whose personalities are marked by curiosity will generally look around their surroundings more than those who lack that trait, while people whose personalities are characterized by openness to new experiences “moved their eyes more from side-to-side,” the Mail reported.
“Neurotic” people blink with greater frequency than other personality types, and people who are described as “open-minded” will try to stare at images for longer periods of time than average.
“This research has tracked and measured the visual behaviour of people going about their everyday tasks, providing more natural responses than if they were in a lab,” Loetscher said, quoted by Science Daily. “Thanks to our machine-learning approach, we not only validate the role of personality in explaining eye movement in everyday life, but also reveal new eye movement characteristics as predictors of personality traits.”