Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GE2015: What if the PAP were a person? Here's what IBM Watson has to say

SEP 6, 2015

Rebecca Pazos

Chew Hui Min

SINGAPORE - Nine political parties are out to woo voters this general election. If each were a person, what would he be like? How adventurous would he be, how assertive, sympathetic or conscientious?

The Straits Times turned to IBM Watson's Personality Insights for a tongue-in-cheek look.

The programme produces a personality analysis by examining language used. It has been employed to dissect the State of the Union address by American presidents, and can also be used to predict behaviour on social media.

It bases its assessments on personality models and text analytics methods developed by psychologists.

It groups its results into five main traits used in standard personality tests - openness, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness and emotional range. Each trait has six facets that further define an individual.

As input, The Straits Times used the text of the eight party political broadcasts in English that were aired on Sept 3.

The People's Power Party was not eligible for the broadcast as it is fielding fewer than six candidates for the Sept 11 election.

What does Watson think of the People's Action Party (PAP), Workers' Party (WP), National Solidarity Party (NSP), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Reform Party (RP), Singapore People's Party (SPP), Singaporeans First (SingFirst) and Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)?



Measures how open a person is to new experiences. An open person would be more adventurous and willing to experiment. He or she is also likely to be more artistic, and likely to challenge authority.
  • NSP scores the highest on openness and PAP the lowest.
  • Watson says that while PAP is very artistic, it adheres to traditional values, and is, unsurprisingly, not ready to challenge authority.
  • Among the opposition parties, SingFirst scores the highest on being "authority-challenging" and is also the "most adventurous".

Measures a person's tendency to act in an organised or thoughtful way. People who score high here are driven, deliberate, organised and self-disciplined.
  • PAP is the most conscientious, while RP is the least, says Watson.
  • SPP comes second on this measure, then comes WP.
  • PAP, competent and disciplined, leads on most of the categories in this measure.


Measures a person's tendency to enjoy the company of others. Those who score on this are energetic, assertive, cheerful and sociable.
  • SDP is sociable while RP seems to be an introverted sort. 
  • SDP scored well on assertiveness and being outgoing. 
  • PAP is also rather gregarious and the most cheerful among the parties, Watson says.


Measures a person's tendency to be compassionate and cooperative towards others. People who score high on this are altruistic, modest, genuine and sympathetic towards others.
  • PAP is rated the most agreeable, while NSP has the lowest score. 
  • NSP is sympathetic towards others, but is uncompromising and not trusting of others, Watson says. 
  • In all fairness, however, all parties scored above the average in altruism and empathy.

Emotional Range

Refers to whether a person's emotions are sensitive to his or her environment. Those who score highly tend to be more prone to anger, more anxious, and may be more affected by stress.
  • All parties had low scores on this measure. SDP came across as the most fiery, while NSP and RP are "mild-tempered". 
  • PAP, the conscientious one, also seemed a little more prone to worry and stress.

[Apparently, all our political parties are emotionally stunted. BUT... consider that the inputs for this was the Party Political Broadcast. On Singapore TV. The message would have been adjusted for TV and the TV audience, and so may not be representative of the usual message of the political parties.]


PAPHelpful, active and confident
WPHeartfelt, genial and social
NSPShrewd, somewhat insensitive and tranquil
SDPSocial, generous and empathetic
RPHeartfelt, expressive and opinionated
SingFirstHeartfelt, tranquil and restrained
SPPHelpful, genial and heartfelt
SDAGenerous, heartfelt and expressive

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