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'big Data' Reveals Human Interests, Behavior

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Big data contains clues to people's interest patterns.

Researchers at Arizona State University are hopeful their analysis of big data will enable them to explore human-interest dynamics.


Arizona State University (ASU) researchers are analyzing big data to explore human-interest dynamics, with the goal of identifying patterns in what motivates people to become interested in particular things, what makes them maintain certain interests, and what causes them to lose interest.

"Big data now provides a platform for exploring the dynamics of why people change their minds about certain things," says ASU professor Ying-Cheng Lai. He says learning what attracts and holds a person's interest could lead to better understanding and predicting of human behavior.

The researchers are working with three large datasets big enough to eventually provide a credible indication of how much of peoples' decision-making follows patterns, or if it is mostly random.

"It is difficult to pin down the exact relationships between all the particles and how all the variables are changing, particularly when changes in the microscopic particles are having an impact on a large macroscopic system," Lai says. However, he says it is possible to deduce from microscopic interactions how macroscopic variables depend upon each other.

The researchers say this type of research could be valuable in developing national security and defense strategies, and in guiding the engineering and design of transportation systems and similar high-interaction environments.

From ASU News
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