Since I study nonverbal communication, I have always been fascinated by our innate tendency to leak information about ourselves through our behaviour. The new article “What and ‘Ehm’ leaks about you: Mapping Fillers into Personality Traits with Quantum Evolutionary Feature Selection Algorithms“, just accepted for publication by the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, is further step in such a direction. The work shows that one of our most minor behavioural cues, the short vocalisations like “ehm” and “uhm” that we utter when we do not know what to say next, conveys information about our personality traits. The results have been obtained by analysing around 3,000 fillers uttered by 120 persons.
The work has been done in collaboration with Mohammad Tayarani, former postdoc of mine that recently obtained a fellowship at the University of Hertfordshire, and Anna Esposito, one of my very first mentors and longtime friend and colleague. Mohammad has developed a new feature selection approach that allows one to spot the features (physical measurements we extract from fillers) most likely to account for personality. Anna has contributed with her deep knowledge of speech processing and her major experience in interdisciplinary work between Computing Science and Psychology. The IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing are in the top 5% of the Scimago Ranking and have an impact factor of 6.28.