While being online, one cannot simply hide behind the digital screens, reveals a new study, adding that an individual’s browsing behavior can help identify the person. The findings showed that an individual’s browsing behaviour can provide a unique digital signature, which can help identify the person. “Our research suggests a person’s personality traits can be deduced by their general internet usage. The study differs from other studies that have only looked at the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,” said led author Ikusan R. Adeyemi, Researcher at the Universiti Teknologi in Malaysia.
In addition, an individual’s level of conscientiousness could be distinguished within a 30-minute session of online browsing. Previous research linking personality traits to computer usage has typically focused on social media. Extroverts tend to use these platforms to enlarge their boundary of friends and influence, while introverts spend more time on social media to compensate for a probable lack of physical interaction. However, a person’s general online browsing behavior can also reflect their choice, preference and reflexes, which is largely controlled by their unique psychological characteristics.
The study, published on Frontiers in ICT, recruited volunteers from the Universiti Teknologi and monitored their internet usage, which included factors such as the duration of the internet session, number of websites browsed and total number of requests made. In addition, the volunteers completed a test to reveal their personality characteristics over five categories: openness to new experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The analysis of this data, which can have many implications, revealed strong links between a person’s personality and browsing behavior.
The data may help online marketing organisations to reliably tailor their product to a specific audience. Also, it can be used to develop an intelligent internet service that can predict and personalize a user’s experience, the researchers said. “It can also be used as a complementary way of increasing security for online identification and authentication. Law enforcement agencies can also apply our findings in the investigation of online crime cases,” Adeyami noted.