My Research

I employ big data and computational models to address pressing issues, including privacy risks, psychometrics, online mass persuasion, and psychological profiling. In pursuing my research, I have published over 70 papers, which have been cited over 5,500 times. The following subsections summarize my work and its implications.

A list of all of my papers can be found in my CV.

Links between facial features and psychological traits

The theoretical foundations of these links are well established. Faces shape others’ perceptions and expectations that, in turn, shape our behavior and psychological traits. Psychological traits and facial features are both influenced by many common factors, such as hormones and genes. Finally, psychological traits influence facial appearance; for example, attitudes affect group memberships that, in turn, influence facial grooming style.

Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images (2018)

Wang and Kosinski in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP)

After discovering that governments and corporations had been using Facial analysis algorithms to detect intimate traits I decided to examine the privacy threats posed by such algorithms in the context of one of the most sensitive personal characteristics: sexual orientation.

We show that an algorithm can detect sexual orientation from people’s faces with an accuracy comparable with mammograms or modern diagnostic tools for Parkinson's disease. The differences between the faces of gay and straight people were consistent with widely accepted theories explaining the origins of sexual orientation.

Impact:

Facial Width-to-Height Ratio Does Not Predict Self-Reported Behavioral Tendencies (2017)

Kosinski, Psychological Science, 2017.

Many studies have linked facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) with various antisocial or violent behavioral tendencies. However, those studies have predominantly been laboratory based and low powered. This paper shows that the links between fWHR and psychological traits were weak, and their patterns were inconsistent with the previous findings and theoretical assumptions advanced in the fWHR literature.

And also...

  1. Psycho-Demographic Analysis of the Facebook Rainbow Campaign by Wang, Lakkaraju, Kosinski, Leskovec, arXiv, 2016.

Privacy

Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior (2013)

Kosinski, Stillwell, and Graepel in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

We showed that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of sensitive traits, including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, political views, personality, intelligence, use of addictive substances, parental separation, etc.

This paper called for, and triggered, an immediate tightening of Facebook’s privacy policies: Two weeks after its publication, Facebook switched off public access to their users’ Likes (until then, they were by default visible to anyone on the internet). This greatly limited exposure to privacy threats for millions of users.

This paper had a significant impact within and beyond academia:

Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital mass persuasion (2017)

Matz, Kosinski, Nave, and Stillwell in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (Kosinski is the second author & senior co-author.)

This paper illustrates the feasibility and effectiveness of the mass persuasion techniques deployed by companies such as Cambridge Analytica and exposed the risks inherent to behavioral targeting, the principal source of income for many tech giants.

See also:

  1. Reply to Sharp et al.: Psychological targeting produces robust effects by S. C. Matz, M. Kosinski, G. Nave, and D. J. Stillwell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 2018.
  2. Facebook’s optimization algorithms are highly unlikely to explain the effects of psychological targeting by S. C. Matz, M. Kosinski, G. Nave, and D. J. Stillwell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 2018.

And also...

  1. Your Digital Image: Factors Behind Demographic And Psychometric Predictions From Social Network Profiles by Y. Bachrach, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, P. Kohli, T. Graepel , Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), 2014.
  2. Inferring the Demographics of Search Users by B. Bi, M. Shokouhi, M. Kosinski, T. Graepel, Proceedings of ACM International Conference on World Wide Web (WWW), 2013.
  3. Facebook and Privacy: The Balancing Act of Personality, Gender, and Relationship Currency by D. Quercia, D. Las Casas, J.P. Pesce, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, V. Almeida, J. Crowcroft, Proceedings of AAAI International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), 2012.

Personality

Birds of a feather do flock together: behavior-based personality assessment method reveals personality similarity among couples and friends (2017)

Youyou, Schwartz, Stillwell, & Kosinski, Psychological Science. (Kosinski is the second & senior author with a student co-author.)

Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans (2015)

Youyou, Kosinski, Stillwell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Kosinski shares the first authorship with a student co-author.)

And also...

  1. Latent Human Traits in the Language of Social Media: An Open-Vocabulary Approach by Kulkarni, Kern, Stillwell, Kosinski, Matz, Ungar, Skiena, Schwartz. PLOS ONE. 2018.
  2. Usage patterns and social circles on Facebook among elderly people with diverse personality traits by F. Mo, J. Zhou, M. Kosinski & D. Stillwell. Educational Gerontology. 2018.
  3. What your Facebook profile picture reveals about your personality by C. Segalin, F. Celli, L. Polonio, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, N. Sebe, M. Cristani, B. Lepri. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Multimedia Conference, 2017.
  4. In Your Eyes Only? Discrepancies and Agreement Between Self- and Other-Reports of Personality From Age 14 to 29 by Rohrer, J., Egloff, B., Schmukle, S., Stillwell, D., & M. Kosinski, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), 2017.
  5. Models of Personality by Matz, S., Chan, F., Kosinski, M., in Emotions and Personality in Personalized Systems by Tkalčič M. et al., 2016.
  6. Women are Warmer but No Less Assertive Than Men: Gender and Language on Facebook by D. Yaden, G. Park, A. Schwartz, M.L. Kern, J.C. Eichstaedt, M. Kosinski, D.J. Stillwell, L.H. Ungar, M.E.P. Seligman, PLOS ONE, 2016.
  7. Tracking the Digital Footprints of Personality by R. Lambiotte and M. Kosinski, Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2015.
  8. Personality and Intrinsic Motivational Factors in End-User Programming by S. Aghaee, A. Blackwell, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2015.
  9. Who Can Wait for the Future? A Personality Perspective by V. Mahalingam, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, J. Rust, A. Kogan, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2014.
  10. Relating Personality Types with User Preferences by I. Cantador, I. Fernandez-Tobias, A. Bellogin, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, Multiple Entertainment Domains In Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Emotions and Personality in Personalized Services (EMPIRE), 2013.
  11. Toward Personality Insights from Language Exploration in Social Media by A. Schwartz, J. Eichstaedt, L. Dziurzynski, M. Kern, E. Blanco, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, M.E.P. Seligman, L.H. Ungar, AAAI Spring Symposium: Analyzing Microtext, 2013. [Also see Poster]
  12. The Online Social Self: An Open Vocabulary Approach to Personality by M. L. Kern, J.C. Eichstaedt, A. Schwartz, L. Dziurzynski, L.H. Ungar, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, S.M. Ramones, M.E.P. Seligman, Assessment. 2013.
  13. Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach by A. Schwartz, J. Eichstaedt, M. Kern, L. Dziurzynski, S. Ramones, M. Agrawal, A Shah, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, M.E.P. Seligman, L.H. Ungar, PLoS ONE, 2013.
  14. Manifestations Of User Personality In Website Choice And Behaviour On Online Social Networks by M. Kosinski, Y. Bachrach, D. Stillwell, P. Kohli, T. Graepel, Machine Learning Journal (MLJ), 2013. [Erratum with updated results]
  15. Personality and Website Choice by M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, P. Kohli, Y. Bachrach, T. Graepel, Proceedings of ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci), 2012.
  16. Personality and Patterns of Facebook Usage by Y. Bachrach, M. Kosinski, T. Graepel, P. Kohli, D. Stillwell, ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci), 2012.
  17. The Personality of Popular Facebook Users by D. Quercia, R. Lambiotte, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, J. Crowcroft, Proceedings of ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), 2012.
  18. Our Twitter Profiles, Our Selves: Predicting Personality with Twitter by D. Quercia, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, J. Crowcroft, Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom), 2011.

Methods

Mining Big Data to Extract Patterns and Predict Real-Life Outcomes (2016)

Kosinski, Wang, Lakkaraju, & Leskovec, Psychological Methods.

Computational Psychology (book chapter) (in press)

Kosinski in Advanced Social Psychology textbook.

Facebook as a Social Science Research Tool: Opportunities, Challenges, Ethical Considerations and Practical Guidelines (2015)

Kosinski, Matz, Gosling, Popov, Stillwell, American Psychologist.

And also...

  1. Big data in the behavioural sciences by M. Kosinski and T. Behrend, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 2017.
  2. A decade into Facebook: where is psychiatry in the digital age? by Inkster B, Stillwell D, Kosinski M, & Jones PB, The Lancet Psychiatry, 2016.
  3. Facebook as a Research Tool by M. Kosinski, S. Matz, S. Gosling, V. Popov, D. Stillwell, Monitor on Psychology, 2016.
  4. A computer adaptive measure of delay discounting by Mahalingam, V., Palkovic, M., Kosinski, M., & Stillwell, D., Assessment, 2016.
  5. Using item response theory to develop measures of acquisitive and protective self-monitoring from the original Self-Monitoring Scale by M.P. Wilmot, J. Kostal, D. Stillwell, & M. Kosinski, Assessment, 2015.
  6. Computational Personality Recognition in Social Media by G. Farnadi, G. Sitaraman, S. Sushmita, F. Celli, M.Kosinski, D. Stillwell, S. Davalos, M-F. Moens, M. De Cock, User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction: The Journal of Personalization Research (UMUAI), 2015.
  7. Developing Age and Gender Predictive Lexica over Social Media by M. Sap, G. Park, J. C. Eichstaedt, M. Kern, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, L. Ungar, and A. Schwartz, Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), 2014.
  8. Automatic Personality Assessment through Social Media Language by G. Park, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, J. Eichstaedt, A. Schwartz, P. Kern, L. Ungar, M. Seligman, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), 2014.
  9. Participant recruitment and data collection through Facebook: the role of personality factors by S.C. Rife, K. L. Cate, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, International Journal of Social Research Methodology (IJSRM), 2014.
  10. Software Tools for Multistage Testing Simulations by K.T. Han and M. Kosinski, in Multistage Testing by D. Yan, C. Lewis, A. von Davier (Eds.), 263-273, Educational Testing Services (ETS), 2013. 2016
    • AERA Division D Significant Contributions Award
  11. Workshop on Computational Personality Recognition by F. Celli, F. Pianesi, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, Proceedings of AAAI International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), 2013.
  12. Mining Facebook Data for Predictive Personality Modeling by D. Markovikj, S. Gievska, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, Proceedings of AAAI International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), 2013.
  13. myPersonality project: Example of successful utilization of online social networks for large-scale social research by D. Stillwell and M. Kosinski International Conference on Mobile Systems (MobiSys), 2012.

Well-being

  1. Building a profile of subjective well-being for social media users by L. Chen , T. Gong , M. Kosinski, D. J. Stillwell, R. L. Davidson. PLOS ONE, 2017.
  2. Predicting Individual Well-Being Through the Language of Social Media by A. Schwartz, M. Sap, M.L. Kern, J.C. Eichstaedt, A. Kapelner, M. Agrawal, E. Blanco, L. Dziurzynski, G. Park, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, M.E.P. Seligman, L.H. Ungar, Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing, 2016.
  3. Do Facebook Status Updates Reflect Subjective Well-being? Valence and Time Matter by P. Liu, W. Tov, M. Kosinski, D.J. Stillwell, L. Qiu, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2015.
  4. Are You Satisfied with Life?: Predicting Satisfaction with Life from Facebook by S. Collins, Y. Sun, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, N. Markuzon, Proceedings of 2015 International Social Computing, Proceedings of Behavioral Modeling and Prediction Conference, 2015.
  5. How are you doing? Emotions and Personality in Facebook by G. Farnadi, G. Sitaraman, M. Rohani, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, M-F. Moens, S. Davalos, M. De Cock, Proceedings of 22nd International Conference on User Modelling, Adaptation and Personalization (UMAP), 2014.
  6. Can well-being be measured using Facebook status updates? Validation of Facebook’s Gross National Happiness Index by N. Wang, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, J. Rust, Social Indicators Research, 2012.

Psychology of Music

  1. Preferences Predict Personality: Evidence from Active Listening and Facebook Likes by G. Nave, J. Minxha, D. Greenberg, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell & P.Rentfrow. Psychological Science, 2018.
  2. Age trends in musical preferences in adulthood: Conceptualization and empirical investigation by A. Bonneville-Roussy, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, J. Rust. Musicae Scientiae, 2017.
  3. The Song Is You: Preferential Reactions to Musical Attribute Dimensions Reflect Personality by D. M. Greenberg, M. Kosinski, D. J. Stillwell, B. L. Monteiro, D. J. Levitin, and P. J. Rentfrow, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2016
  4. Musical Preferences are Linked to Cognitive Styles by D. M. Greenberg, S. Baron-Cohen, D. J. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, P. J. Rentfrow, PLOS ONE, 2015.
  5. The Song Remains the Same: A Replication and Extension of the MUSIC Model by P.J. Rentfrow, L.R. Goldberg, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, S.D. Gosling, D.J. Levitin, Music Perception, 2013.

Other journal publications

  1. The Promotion of a Bright Future and the Prevention of a Dark Future: Time Anchored Incitements in News Articles and Facebook's Status Updates by D. Garcia, K. Drejing, C. Amato, M. Kosinski, S. Sikström, Frontiers of Psychology, 2018.
  2. One Size Fits All: Context Collapse, Self-Presentation Strategies and Language Styles on Facebook by T. Gil-Lopez ,C. Shen G. A. Benefield, N. A. Palomares, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 2018.
  3. The Language of Religious Affiliation: Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Difference by D. Yaden, J. Eichstaedt, M. Kern, L. Smith, A. Buffone, D.J. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, L. Ungar, M. Seligman, A. Schwartz, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017.
  4. Testing Ageing Theory among Later Middle-aged and Older Users Using Social Media Authors by M. Mao, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, D. Good. Conference Companion of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 2017.
  5. Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty by Feldman G., Lian H., Kosinski M., and Stillwell D., Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2016.
  6. Age Differences in Social Media: Testing Continuity and Activity Theory among Later Middle-aged and Older Facebook Users by M. Mao, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, D. Good, CHI, 2016.
  7. Characterizing a psychiatric symptom dimension related to deficits in goal-directed control by C. M. Gillan, M. Kosinski, R. Whelan, E. A. Phelps and N. D. Daw, eLife, 2016.
  8. Living in the Past, Present, and Future: Measuring Temporal Orientation with Language by G. Park, A. Schwartz, M. Sap, M.L. Kern, E. Weingarten, J.C. Eichstaedt, J. Berger, D.J.. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, L.H. Ungar, M.E.P. Seligman, Journal of Personality, 2015.
  9. Living in the Past, Present, or Future: Extracting Human Temporal Orientation through Facebook by A. Schwartz,G. J. Park, M. Sap, E. Weingarten, J. Eichstaedt, M.L. Kern, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, J. Berger, M. Seligman, L.H. Ungar, Proceedings of North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics Conference (NAACL), 2015.
  10. Values in words: Using language to evaluate and understand personal values by Boyd, R. L., Wilson, S. R., Pennebaker, J. W., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D. J., & Mihalcea, R., Proceedings of the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), 2015.
  11. Self-Monitoring and the Metatraits by M.P. Wilmot, C.G. DeYoung, D. Stillwell and M. Kosinski, Journal of Personality, 2015.
  12. When a new tool is introduced in different cultural contexts: Individualism-Collectivism and social network on Facebook by J. Na, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2015.
  13. Predicting self-monitoring skills using textual posts on Facebook by Q. He, C. Glas, M. Kosinski, D. Stillwell, B.P. Veldkamp, Computers in Human Behavior, 2014.
  14. Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates by P.J. Rentfrow, S.D. Gosling, M. Jokela, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, J. Potter, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), 2013.
  15. From "sooo excited!!!" to "so proud": Using Language to Study Development by M. Kern, J. Eichstaedt, A. Schwartz, G. Park, L.H. Ungar, D. Stillwell, M. Kosinski, L. Dziurzynski, M.E.P. Seligman, Developmental Psychology, 2013.
  16. Psychological Aspects of Social Communities by A. Friggeri, R. Lambiotte, M. Kosinski, E. Fleury, Proceedings of ASE International Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom), 2012.
  17. Crowd IQ: Measuring the Intelligence of Crowdsourcing Platforms by M. Kosinski, Y. Bachrach, G. Kasneci, J. Van Gael, T. Graepel, Proceedings of ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci), 2012.
  18. Crowd IQ - Aggregating Opinions to Boost Performance by M. Kosinski, Y. Bachrach, T. Graepel, G. Kasneci, J. Van Gael, Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), 2012. [view poster]

Dissertations