Besides allowing us to perceive our surroundings, eye movements are also a window into our mind and a rich source of information on who we are, how we feel, and what we do.
Psychologists have suspected that personality influences how we visually take in the world. Curious people tend to look around more and open-minded people gaze longer at abstract images, for example.
A study by Hoppe and collegues (2018) shows that eye movements during an everyday task predict aspects of our personality.
They tracked eye movements of 42 participants while they ran an errand on a university campus and subsequently assessed their personality traits using well-established questionnaires.
Using a state-of-the-art machine learning method and a rich set of features encoding different eye movement characteristics, the researchers were able to reliably predict four of the Big Five personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness) as well as perceptual curiosity only from eye movements.
Further analysis revealed new relations between previously neglected eye movement characteristics and personality.
Their findings demonstrate a considerable influence of personality on everyday eye movement control, thereby complementing earlier studies in laboratory settings.
Improving automatic recognition and interpretation of human social signals is an important endeavour, enabling innovative design of human–computer systems capable of sensing spontaneous natural user behaviour to facilitate efficient interaction and personalisation.
Hoppe, S., Loetscher, T., Morey, S.A. & Bulling, A. (2018) Eye Movements During Everyday Behavior Predict Personality Traits. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00105.