May 22 (UPI) -- A picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a selfie? According to a new study, clues to a person's personality are encoded in a selfie -- clues that can be gleaned by artificial intelligence.
Computer models, with only a selfie to go by, proved better in tests at predicting a person's personality than human raters.
Studies have shown links between facial features and traits such as aggressiveness and risk-taking. However, the latest neuroscience research suggests that the human brain doesn't process individual facial features. Instead, the brain processes faces holistically.
To study links between personality and holistic facial features, such as facial symmetry and height-to-length ratio, researchers in Russia turned to artificial intelligence.
A team of scientists trained a system of artificial neural networks to analyze photographs of human faces and make personality judgments. To do this, they used the results of previous studies that showed connections between certain facial characteristics and personality traits.
Scientists used their model to analyze the photos of 12,000 volunteers who filled out a personality survey and sent in a selfie. Participants rated themselves on a scale for openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, called the Big Five traits.
When analyzing the faces of two individuals, the computer model made a correct personality comparison -- predicting which persons reported themselves as more extroverted or dominant, for example -- 58 percent of the time, a value above that of chance.
The new research, published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, showed conscientiousness was the easiest personality trait to recognize by looking at a person's face.
"We circumvented the reliability limitations of human raters by developing a neural network and training it on a large data set labelled with self-reported Big Five traits," researchers wrote in their paper.
Authors of the new paper suggest the artificial intelligence models developed for the study could be used to analyze online dating profiles.
"Given that partner personality and match between two personalities predict friendship formation, long-term relationship satisfaction, and the outcomes of dyadic interaction in unstructured settings, the aid of artificial intelligence in making partner choices could help individuals to achieve more satisfying interaction outcomes," researchers wrote.