Here at the World Well-Being Project, we have done many crowdsourcing experiments over the past years. Often times, we are interested not only in what the workers annotate, but also in these workers themselves. For example, in a short paper  we have shown that females are better and more confident than males in guessing gender from tweets, especially when it comes to guessing females.
Similarly, many surveys are done over a non-random selection of participants. This is for example a problem in exit-polls, where a non-random population agrees to share their voting preference, leading to the need for pollsters to perform corrections a posteriori. Moreover, in online studies where users are anonymous, not all will agree to disclose self-identifying or personal information. Using data from our studies on the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, we aimed to uncover which users are more likely to voluntarily disclose their identity.
Continue reading What traits enable crowd-workers to voluntarily disclose their identity?
Owning a pet is very popular in the U.S. The most recent survey from the American Pet Products Association estimated that 65% of American households (79.9 million) include at least one pet. The most popular household pets are, unsurprisingly, dogs (44% of households) and cats (34.9% of households) .
Psychologists have long been fascinated to uncover whether individual differences drive pet ownership and preference. Most have focused on comparing the so called cat and dog people. Perhaps driven by the natures of their respective favorite pet, cat people are stereotyped as quiet, sensitive, and unorthodox while dog people are thought of as gregarious and energetic. One of the most comprehensive studies to-date  analysed 4,565 participants who took the Big Five personality Inventory and self-identified as dog people, cat people, both or neither. They found that dog people are higher in extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness and lower in neuroticism and openness, even when controlling for gender differences. Contrary to these findings, some failed to uncover differences between the two types  or suggested the labels do little more than offer a different way of saying masculine and feminine .
To shed new light on this debate, we analysed two different online behaviors using big data from social media:
- Mentioning animal names in Facebook posts;
- Using a profile picture featuring cat or a dog on Twitter.
Continue reading Personality Profiles of ‘Cat’ and ‘Dog People’ in Social Media
In experiments on word usage in Twitter, I’ve constantly noticed some very coherent groups of hashtags and words: those belonging to astrology. Apparently, many users post horoscope information, statements or comments and tag them using the name of the zodiac sign. So, I wondered (since I pretty much tried ignored astrology all my life) what are the most particular traits that people use to describe each sign.
#Taurus is extremely kind and sweet..until you betray them; then death is better.
To uncover this, I planned to use a combination of Twitter data and one of my favourite statistical measures – Pointwise Mutual Information (PMI) [1,2].
Continue reading Zodiac sign stereotypes in Twitter