Competing With Data & Analytics
Romantic love, big data analytics and . . . your personality at work? There is a correlation. And understanding it could help you communicate better with colleagues, bosses and clients — and get ahead.
A biological anthropologist and professor at Rutgers University, Helen Fisher has studied romantic love for thirty years. A leading expert in her field, by 2005 she’d written four books on the subject. That was about the time she was approached by the executive team of the online dating site, Match.com. The CEO’s question to her: “Why do you fall in love with one person and not the other?”
Fisher was stumped. In her research, she puts people in brain scanners to study why we’re all alike. She knew that we tend to fall in love with someone from the same socioeconomic background, with the same level of intelligence and good looks, the same religious and social values. “But you can walk into a room and everybody’s from your ethnic and socioeconomic background, with the same general level of intelligence, same values, and you don’t fall in love with all of them,” Fisher told me. “So there has got to be more to it.”
That’s what Match.com was asking: Why are we all different (in love)? The answer led Fisher on a path to map personalities at work.
First, she designed a questionnaire that Chemistry.com (a division of Match.com) customers could answer to determine whom they are best suited for an introduction to, utilizing a basic understanding of the brain’s systems. That is, while there are many that govern basic functions like breathing or blinking, there are only four systems that are linked with personality traits: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen.
Twelve million people have taken the questionnaire in 40 countries (domestically on chemistry.com and internationally on Match.com) and about 30,000 people take it every week, says Fisher, who has utilized analytics to determine broad behavioral categories. “With so many people taking this questionnaire, I’ve really been able to apply all kinds of algorithms to my understanding of the brain — my understanding of neurotransmitters and hormones — to measure aspects of personality.”
In graphing the personality traits of 178,000 people — a subset of the Match.c