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New programme can unravel minds of prominent individuals

Programme known as ‘Computational Personality’ gives researchers the ability to better understand the minds of military, political leaders

London: Researchers have developed a new programme that can evaluate personality traits of prominent individuals to provide clues as to what is brewing in their minds.

Obama speech
Not the same: Scientists said the main difference in Obama’s 2014 speech was the ‘loner’ personality trait. This dimension reveals a type of withdrawal from painful social interaction. In addition, the speech exhibits higher levels of ‘anger’ and ‘fear’. Pic/AFP

“This programme known as ‘Computational Personality’ gives us the ability to better understand the minds of military and political leaders which is an important aspect of strategic intelligence,” explained professor Yair Neuman of the Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of Negev in Israel.

The software uses ‘vector semantics’, which involves constructing a number of vectors representing personality dimensions and disorders and measuring their similarity with texts written by the human subject.

The team used the new programme to evaluate President Obama’s State of the Union addresses from 2009 to his most recent in 2014.

According to Neuman, “Both State of the Union speeches are ‘assertive’ and ‘organized’ as expected from a political leader. However, the main difference in the 2014 speech is the ‘loner’ personality trait that appears. This dimension reveals a type of withdrawal from painful social interaction. In addition, the 2014 speech exhibits higher levels of ‘anger’ and ‘fear’,” he asserted.

Evaluating the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, the programme found that a man like him would not be significantly affected by injury to innocent citizens or the destruction of infrastructure because he lacks the ability to empathise.

“For his adversaries, any attempt to simulate empathy, or to try and appeal to his emotions is a strategy doomed to fail. These insights are highly important in understanding the personality and planning a campaign against it,” Neuman observed.

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