Imagine applying for a job. In addition, to all the necessary disclosures for background checks, references, credit reports, drug tests and personality assessments, there is a new one: accessing our consumer history, social media activity and internet browsing records. While perhaps not the actual data, future employers could gain rights permitting its input through personality assessment applications contracted through third parties.
This differs from current personality assessments because almost all are currently self-reporting, having us respond based on who we think we are. Big data though can give greater insight into who we are by analyzing what we actually do. Consumer psychology and online dating have already exposed contradictions with self-reporting methodologies.
Already, in “Your Doctor Knows You’re Killing Yourself” (BloombergBuisnessweek, June 26, 2014) by Shannon Pettypiece and Jordan Robertson, reports of medical centers accessing consumer data, “public records, store loyalty transactions, and credit card purchases.” By putting this “data into predictive models that give [health] risk scores,” doctors can better advise patients based on what they’re doing not what they say they’re doing.
Private Traits and Attributes are Predictable from Digital Records of Human Behavior (pdf), by Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell and Thore Graepel, shows what people’s Facebook Likes disclose. Commercially, providers are already tapping Twitter streams. Since our personalities often influence our health and job performance, medical professionals could further improve if they had better insight into our personalities.
Politicians already use this information to analyze candidates and issues we like (see “Data Unravels Voters’ Political DNA” [CBS Evening News, October 24, 2006]). Since personality correlates strongly to politics, we’re already well on our way of tapping big data’s full personality assessment capabilities. Furthermore, as 60 Minutes (March 9, 2014) reported in “The Data Brokers: Selling Your Personal Information,” data brokers avail this information in a relatively unregulated market. This means that the only problem with the above scenario might be that employers won’t need our permission.