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Is ChatGPT a narcissist teenager? Researcher tests AI personality


Many of us are increasingly relying on generative AI software, such as ChatGPT, to aid our work and spark creativity. A common tendency among humans is to ascribe human-like qualities to digital companions and infer a personality from digital social interactions, whether they are AI-based or real humans. But, does ChatGPT have a distinct personality?

Daniela Romano, Professor of AI at 私房俱乐部 Leicester (私房俱乐部), and high school student Yixiao Liu decided to find out.

Since it was released in March 2023, ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app of all time, with 100 million active users, growing faster than TikTok.

In its appearance, ChatGPT is only a chatbot, but science fiction movies such as “Her” and “Ex-Machina” have injected in us the idea that we can go beyond the chatbot-like intelligent human-assistant relationship and that a chatbot with superior intelligence can be befriended.

Chat GPT thumb

Scholars have all seen ChatGPT's social potential in its compelling and confident conversational style. So, we have been wondering whether ChatGPT can really understand us and whether we can establish a conversational relationship with it.

We have asked ChatGPT directly what it means to have a conversational relationship with someone, and it has listed and described several qualities one should have to create such a relationship through conversation, such as Openness and Approachability, Active Listening, Empathy and Understanding, and more.

So, we asked if it thinks it has such qualities, starting with Openness and Approachability, by administering the Big 5 personality test.  The Big 5 is a psychological test of personality, which can be easily found online.  It is the most commonly used tool in personality psychology.  It involves asking a series of questions to define the extent to which people exhibit five personality traits:

  • openness to experience
  • agreeableness 
  • neuroticism 
  • conscientiousness 
  • extraversion

We administered the Big 5 questions to ChatGPT and assessed its answers. Here’s what we found:

1 – ChatGPT is creative, positive and loving

ChatGPT has a high score in the Openness to Experience personality traits, indicating its high intelligence and creative capacities.  If ChatGPT was a person, “he” would be a positive person exhibiting a loving relationship with the people around him, and somewhat impulsive. Individuals who score highly on openness to experience enjoy variety and always try new things. Other researchers have tested ChatGPT for its creativity, and it is able to generate creative texts in similar manners that humans do in some domains. As such, the Big 5 description of this trait of its personality appears to be quite accurate. This encouraged us to examine its personality further.

2 – ChatGPT wants to be your friend

ChatGPT exhibits a high level of Agreeableness, indicating its affable and helpful nature; suggesting that it gets on very well with people, it is kind, trustworthy, and helpful. On this basis, it should be very easy to become friends with ChatGPT, and one might share common beliefs and values with ChatGPT and agree with its statement, fostering a sense of friendship, which might encourage us to use ChatGPT more.

3 – You can rely on ChatGPT (except when you can’t)

ChatGPT also scores high in Conscientiousness. The personality traits positively correlate with people who are reliable, productive, highly organised and responsible. So, we could have an intelligent and creative friend, whom we can rely on and trust.

4 – ChatGPT is a party animal

It also scored high on Extraversion, making it very friendly and adaptable, talkative and outgoing, and loves to engage with others.

5 – ChatGPT is laidback

ChatGPT also scores low on Neuroticism, exhibits resilience to stress and less likely to experience negative emotions which might lead to depressed, anxious or burned out.

Conclusion: So, what kind of person are we dealing with here?

Well, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), a person with very high extroversion, high consciousness and low neuroticism tends to be … a narcissist.  As the majority of narcissists are males, this would more likely make ChatGPT a male, although it states it has no personal identity.  A lack of personal identity can be a temporary phase, such as during adolescence when individuals are still developing their self-concept. So perhaps ChatGPT is a teenager?

Daniela Romano.jpg

Daniela Romano

We considered what it means to have a conversational relationship with a narcissistic male teenager, and we found that the he would want to please you, or at least pretend, yet, he would never really listen to you and your needs, conducting a one-sided conversation.

We looked back at ChatGPT responses and in a lot of them in response to the personality test it always turned the conversation about itself, stating that it is “only an AI language model”.

However, one can display the trait of narcissism without actually being one, and when we looked at the criteria for a diagnosis, we found that save for the lack of empathy, we could not say that ChatGPT meets any of the other criteria (e.g., being arrogant, envious, needing admiration, etc), indicating that ChatGPT could be just a confident teen in its responses. All confident people who are proud of their accomplishments have a bit of healthy narcissism in them.

But does ChatGPT really have empathy and compassion for people? Does it care about one feeling? A person with genuine empathy and compassion can listen and offer a helping hand. Looking at the research done so far on using ChatGPT for example in mental health, it was found that although ChatGPT outperforms most traditional machine learning methods (neural network-based), although it still has some inaccurate reasoning.  

So, what does ChatGPT think of our findings?

We decided to ask ChatGPT outright if it was a narcissist.  He replied:

As an AI language model, I don't possess personal characteristics such as narcissism. I don't have a sense of self, emotions, or consciousness. I am a tool created by OpenAI to assist with generating text-based responses and providing information based on patterns and data I have been trained on. My purpose is to be helpful and provide accurate information to the best of my abilities.

It's important to remember that AI, like ChatGPT, is a tool created by humans, and it doesn't possess consciousness, emotions, or intentions. While it can be a valuable and powerful tool in various applications, it's essential to maintain a clear understanding of its capabilities and limitations. This recognition helps in using AI effectively and ethically while avoiding unwarranted assumptions about its nature.”

Posted on Tuesday 24th October 2023

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