Advances like this are exciting for many reasons. What could be better than a couple of teenagers who develop a revolutionary therapeutic tool that helps autistic kids? And if it helps me get through to a human being at my least favorite airline the next time I can’t redeem miles using the website, all the better. But it also makes me think about how we assess behavioral style, and the next wave of psychological measurement. Scientists are trying to determine personality traits through brain imaging, but it’s a little hard to put a room full of managers into an fMRI machine. Voice recognition, on the other hand, is something that can be realistically and meaningfully used.
SOCIAL STYLE is based on a range of verbal and non-verbal behaviors. While not perfect, imagine a program that could listen to phone calls, decipher the non-verbal aspects of Assertiveness and Responsiveness, and generate an estimated Style of the caller. Better yet, imagine a tool that builds on information it’s already learned about a caller, and each time the person calls the tool refines its analysis to more accurately pinpoint the person’s Style. This would be powerful indeed. For instance, it could help people interact more effectively when working with one another in geographically dispersed teams. It could be especially effective for cross-cultural teams where nuances of emotion may bypass humans but could be accounted for by the algorithm.
If you have other ideas for how to utilize this type of research and development, feel free to share as a comment on this blog.