The movement of your mobile phone says a lot about your personality

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  Last updated July 25, 2019 at 3:41 pm

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Scientists can use the pattern of your phone’s movements to predict your personality type.


personality mobile phone use

What kind of personality does your phone say you have? Credit: Cavan Images


If you’re one of those people that send multiple texts in a row, you might not be the most organised person. On the other hand, if you tend to send one message at a time, you might be described as conscientious.


At least, that’s according to new research from RMIT University that says the movement of your phone says a lot about your personality.


Don’t be alarmed – researchers haven’t hacked your phone, and they’re not listening in on your phone calls. Instead, they looked at the way our phones move.


Tiny phone sensors reveal a lot about us


Researchers used data from mobile phone accelerometers – the tiny sensors tracking phone movement for step-counting and other apps – to predict people’s personalities.


Flora Salim from RMIT University says previous studies had predicted personality types using phone call and messaging activity logs, but this study showed adding accelerometer data improved accuracy.


“Activity like how quickly or how far we walk, or when we pick up our phones up during the night, often follows patterns and these patterns say a lot about our personality type,” said Salim.


Physical activity is proven to have a strong correlation with human personality. Therefore, researchers analysed physical activity features from different dimensions like dispersion, diversity, and regularity.


So, what kind of personality does your phone say you have?


According to the research, people with consistent movements on weekday evenings were generally more introverted. That’s probably because we’re at home, watching The Bachelor, scrolling social media.


Extroverts, on the other hand, tended to use their phones more randomly – leading researchers to believe they were out socialising, or taking up unplanned options.


Similarly, agreeable people had more random activity patterns and were busier on weekends and weekday evenings than others.


Females classified as friendly and compassionate were found to make more outgoing calls than any other personality types.


As for those people who send multiple messages in a row – well, you’re probably not super organised. Conscientious people tended to not contact the same person in a short space of time


And finally, the researchers wanted to look at the different personality types and how they use their phone late into the night. Sensitive and neurotic females often checked their phones, or moved them regularly, well past midnight. Sensitive or neurotic males did the opposite.


More inventive and curious people tended to make and receive fewer phone calls compared to others.


We can learn a lot about ourselves from our phones


Now we’re not saying that the movement of your phone is a definite personality test. But lead author, Nan Gao, says the potential applications from this research are exciting.


“There are applications for this technology in social media with friend recommendations, online dating matches and targeted advertising, but I think the most exciting part is what we can learn about ourselves.”


“Many of our habits and behaviours are unconscious but, when analysed, they tell us a lot about who we really are so we can understand ourselves better, resist social pressure to conform and to empathize with others,” he says.


“Most importantly, being who we truly are can make our experience of life richer, more exciting and more meaningful.”


“In Ancient Greece there is a saying about knowing yourself as the beginning of wisdom, applications like this can really help to reveal who we are to ourselves.”


The results were analysed in accordance to the Big Five personality traits which include: extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.


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About the Author

RMIT University

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