We are just that much closer to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with the announcement (first published today in the Times of India’s Social Media blog) that IBM is analyzing Twitter users’ posts to mine information about each writer’s personality typology so that ads can not only be targeted for content and location, but also be framed in terms tailored to appeal most strongly to the psychological profile of the reader.
IBM is developing software that classifies the psychological type of Twitter users, from their tweets. The company intends to sell the software widely to businesses that market their wares online.
This is one of many emerging efforts by psychologists to create analytic tools that can offer a quick glimpse of an individual’s psychological type so that communications can be shaped in ways that are most likely to be heard. Psychiatrists are experimenting with quick “seat of the pants” ways to determine basic psychological typology when doing initial interviews with psychiatric inpatients, and rumor has it that more than a few companies are training telephone bank employees to do the same, using “quick and dirty” instruments adapted from the Myers-Briggs test. The idea is that with this information the speaker can then talk in ways that are much likelier to be heard.
It’s spooky when methods like these lead to increasingly invasive large-scale hucksterism. But it’s a different question whether lawyers might consider using such tools to do a better job of communicating with their individual clients. Surely it could only help if we lawyers learned how to speak analytically to thinking types, but in relational terms to feeling types, for instance. Similarly, learning how differently people who are “judgment” and “perception” types process information to reach conclusions can make us more patient with clients whose typology differs from our own, and can help us do a better job of counseling them about the personal factors that may underlie legal disputes. Integrative lawyers–and any lawyer–can benefit from any tool that improves the quality of our communications with distressed clients.
From the post:
“The software develops a personality profile based on a person’s most recent few hundred or thousand and then scores the ‘big five’ traits namely, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.
Zhou said that the software might help companies to tune marketing messages sent by email or social media, or to select the promotional content displayed when a customer logs in to his or her account.
A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it seems reasonable that personality would be useful for presenting ads that resonate better with the recipient, the report added.”