Promises and Perils of Inferring Personality on GitHub

Frenk van Mil, A. Rastogi, A.E. Zaidman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Background: Personality plays a pivotal role in our understanding of human actions and behavior. Today, the applications of personality are widespread, built on the solutions from psychology to infer personality. Aim: In software engineering, for instance, one widely used solution to infer personality uses textual communication data. As studies on personality in software engineering continue to grow, it is imperative to understand the performance of these solutions. Method: This paper compares the inferential ability of three widely studied text-based personality tests against each other and the ground truth on GitHub. We explore the challenges and potential solutions to improve the inferential ability of personality tests. Results: Our study shows that solutions for inferring personality are far from being perfect. Software engineering communications data can infer individual developer personality with an average error rate of 41%. In the best case, the error rate can be reduced up to 36% by following our recommendations1.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationESEM '21: Proceedings of the 15th ACM / IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781450386654
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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