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The Psychometrics Centre

Cambridge Judge Business School


As Executive Director, Vesselin Popov is responsible for all strategic, operational and financial aspects of the Centre's activities, and in particular its commercial partnerships. He oversees a range of projects to increase the understanding and use of Big Data Psychology in business and the community. He identifies areas where psychometric techniques can deliver the greatest impact and drives product development strategy, helping to put cutting-edge tools in the hands of citizens. 

Vess also coordinates Apply Magic Sauce, a battery of predictive algorithms based on over 6 million users’ psychological and social media data. These models translate digital footprints of human behaviour into accurate psycho-demographic profiles and are used by academics and businesses to personalise a variety of services and platforms. This project has had a tremendous impact on public awareness of digital issues. 

Vess holds a Law degree with Honours from the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) and has applied his skills in a diverse array of fields, ranging from the music and sports industries in the UK to the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance. His interests include intellectual property, privacy and data protection law, AI ethics, cybersecurity, digital marketing and entrepreneurship.

Click to email Vess.


Key publications: 


  • The psychological markers of business creation: A comparative study across cultures and industry sectors, Suarez-Alvarez J., Matz S., Gibbons C., Popov V., Mahalingam V., Stillwell D. (in prep)
  • Facebook as a Social Science Research Tool: Opportunities, Challenges, Ethical Considerations and Practical Guidelines, M. Kosinski, S. Matz, S. Gosling, V. Popov, D. Stillwell, American Psychologist, 2015 [manuscript]
  • Using The Big Five For Customised Advertising On Facebook (poster) by Matz, S.,  Popov, V., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), 2015
  • Using Big Data in Real-Life Online Marketing: Personality-targeted and tailored advertising on Facebook (poster) by Matz, S., Chan, A.F., Popov, V., Stillwell, D. & Kosinski, M. Association for Psychological Science Convention (APS), 2014  [link][download]
  • Occasional Reviewer for the Communications of the ACM

Industry whitepapers

  • Whose advice will serve you best? Large-scale global study of interpersonal trust and algorithm design in peer-to-peer environments [awaiting publication by client]
  • Smile Data: a new resource for psychological research, White paper report on relationships between psychological traits, oral health and smiling behaviours, using Big Data from 350,000 faces and 8,400 participants in 105 countries [View PDF]
  • Trust and Predictive Technologies 2016, Thought leadership report on privacy, prediction and personalisation, drawing on my study at [View PDF] [MarketingWeek]
  • The Psychology of Entrepreneurship, Global psychometric research study for Barclays, with S. Matz, V. Mahalingam and D. Stillwell, June 2015 [View PDF]

Tests and Software

  • Concerto Platform: open source online adaptive test development software with Stillwell DS, Kosinski M, Lis P, Rust J and Gibbons CJ.
  • Apply Magic Sauce API: battery of algorithms for predicting psychological traits from digital footprints of human behaviour with Kosinski M, Stillwell DS, Kielczewski, and Rust J.
  • Predictive World: interactive data visualisation using social media and open data for psychodemographic prediction with Hoferkova J., Gibbons CJ., Stink Studios and Sid Lee Paris.
  • Short Entrepreneurial Personality Inventory with Rust, J.
  • Team Roles that Underpin Service Styles (TRUSS) Inventory with Stilwell, D. and Rust, J.
  • Cambridge Preference-based Personality Questionnaire (PPQ) with Mills, R. and Stillwell, D.
  • The internet is illegal in Europe, Op-ed on legal implications of psychological research for RoosterGNN Global News Network, June 2014
  • Big Data for HR: New Frontier or Failed Experiment?, Article for MediaPlanet Big Data Campaign, distributed with CityAM Newspaper, 12 June 2014

Other Professional Activities

Conference Plenaries

Brand & Communications

  • *Psychometrics, privacy and personalisation: essential principles for data-driven advertising (workshop), Slovenian Advertising Chamber, 14 November 2018

  • *Psychological prediction and targeting for online advertisers, Internet Advertising Conference, Prague, 5th April 2018

  • *Psychometric Personalisation: How to Make Great Content and Build Trust, Content Marketing Conference, Boston, 2-4 May 2018

  • *Rethinking personalisation with Big Data and Psychometrics, Innowave Conference, Varna, 19-21 October 2017 [link]

  • *Responsible Psychometric Optimisation: Getting Personal, in the Good Way, Consumerology, London, 12 October 2017 [link]

  • *Online psychometrics in action for automatic personalisation of digital experiences, Pisa Internet Festival, 8 October 2017 [link]

  • *Personalisation of News: Forget Media Metrics, Think Psychometrics, General Editors' Network Summit, Vienna, 23 June 2017 [link][summary][HuffPost]

  • *Bringing Personalisation to Life with Big Data Psychometrics, ENGAGE Prague, 19 May 2017 [link][slides][ME commentary]

  • *Personalising digital interactions with Big Data and Psychometrics, Data Driven Paris, 24 April 2017 [link][video]

  • *The Real Science Behind Psychological Targeting with Big Data, Days of Communication Advertising Festival, Rovinj, 30 Mar - 2nd April 2017 [link][summary]

  • *Psychological Marketing with Big Data: How It's Working Now, Content & Commerce Futures Conference, 18 May 2016 [link][feature video]

  • Social Listening Workshop, Social Media for Business Consoritum (CfBI), Paris, 10 May 2016

  • Personal Automotive: Discovering What Drives Us With Big Data, Silverstone, 25 Jan 2016

  • Sorry, the Digital You is More Interesting. Using Social Media as a Back Door into the Mind, IIeX Non-Conscious Impact Measurement Forum, New York, 10 Nov 2015 [link][slides]

  • *Making Sense of Big Social Data: Psychological Marketing in Practice, Mindshare Purple Day, Warsaw, 20 Oct 2015 [link]

  • *Putting Big Data in the Driver's Seat: A Look at Psychological Targeting in Action, Digital Dealer Automotive Marketing Conference, Silverstone, 15 Sept 2015 [link]

  • *Psychometrics and the Binary Brand, Middle East Brand Summit, Dubai, 2 June 2015 [link]

  • *What businesses need to know about emotions and personality on Facebook, E-Commerce Futures Conference, London, July 2014 [video]

Privacy, Security & Democracy

  • Workshop on the Methodology and Ethics of Targeting, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, 10 May 2019

  • Workshop on AI, Politics and Security in the Asia Pacific, Australian National University, 13-15 March 2019

  • Algorithms and Human Rights (panel), Estonian Institute of Human Rights Annual Conference, 9-11 December 2018 [link]

  • Datacrazia (panel), Pisa Internet Festival, 11-14 October 2018

  • Identity for Sale: Is Big Data Stealing Your Life? (panel), Brain Bar Budapest, 2 June 2018

  • *Psychometric Computing and the Brighter Future of AI, IT-Defense, Munich, 31 Jan - 2 Feb 2018 [link]

  • *A Psychometric Perspective on Online Social Engineering, Human Threat Awareness Event, Cambridge, 13 December 2017

  • *How to target your message (Researcher Workshop), Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange, 16 November 2017

  • *Protecting Privacy and Democracy in a Microtargeted World, Pisa Internet Festival, 7 October 2017 [link]

  • *Cyber Security & Social Engineering Summer School, Tallinn University of Technology, 11 July 2017 [link]

  • *Take Back Control: Using Big Data and Psychometrics for Good, Junior Chamber International, Zurich, 31 May 2017

  • *What we reveal to machines that know us better than humans, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague Data Security Week, 15-17 May 2017 [link]

  • *How to Wield the Data-driven, Double-edged Sword, Net Activism: Net Demagogy Panel, 12 April 2017, ZKM Karslruhe [link]

  • Practical and Ethical Considerations On the Use of Digital Footprints in Research, General Online Research Summit, Berlin, 17 March 2017 [link]

  • *Choosing Machine Psychology Over Machine Intelligence, Pirate Security Conference, Munich 17 Feb 2017 [link]

  • *The Darkness in Data: Unravelling the Impact of Social Media, Big Data and Psychometrics on Privacy, Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, Darmstadt, 21 July 2016 [link][slides][interview p.76]

  • *Data for Good: Predictive Data and Ambient Intelligence, Edelman London, 26 April 2016 [slides]

  • Artificial Un-Intelligence: The Future We Do Not Want May Already Be Here, Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Law Faculty, 24 Oct 2015 [link][audio]

Big Data Analytics

  • From Curriculum Design to CAT Deployment, 4th Global Summit on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in Education, Beijing, 12 Dec 2020 [link]

  • *Big Data Psychology: How well do you  know your online self?, Sektor 3.0 Online Festival Warsaw, 27-28 May 2020 [link]

  • *Artist Talk as part of "The Value of Freedom" Exhibition, Vienna Belvedere Museum of Contemporary Art, 24-25 October 2018 [link]

  • *Lecture Series on Facebook Data Analytics, Cambridge University Development Conference, 20 July-22 August 2018

  • *The Impact and Responsibility of Using Psychometrics in Big Data, Open Innovations Forum, Moscow, 18 October 2017 [link]

  • *Knowing our Digital Selves, The Conference, Malmö, 4-5 September 2017 [video]

  • *Making Sensitive the New Smart: Why Connected Things, Homes and Cities Need Psychometrics, Educational Data Mining & Applications, Beijing, 14-17 August 2017

  • *The Promise of Psychometric Analytics in Procurement Intelligence, CoE Club, Accenture Barcelona Innovation Centre, 7 March 2017 [link]

  • *Earning Digital Trust Through Personalisation and Big Data Analytics, DigiWorld Summit, Montpellier, 16 November 2016 [link][video]

  • *Psychometric Analytics: Risks, Rewards and Revolution, Driven by Data Summit, London, 22 September 2016 [register]

  • Apply Magic Sauce to Your Organisation's Data: Launch of Analytics Product with Keyrus Group, Eight Club Bank, 2 June 2016 [register]

  • *Digital Footprints on the Path to Personalised Finance, Barclays Insights Enablement, London, 1 Feb 2016

  • *Big Data Psychology: Applications in Retail, Pan Tesco Group Data Science Conference, London, June 2014

  • *How to Personalise the Live Music Industry using Big Data, Reeperbahn Festival Conference, Hamburg, September 2013

Market Research

  • *From Asking Questions to Finding Answers: The Use of Digital Footprints in Research, IPSOS MORI Innovations in Research, Istanbul, 24 May 2017

  • *Know Your Customer: Making Big Data, Psychology and Social Media Useful, Neuromarketing Conference, Antwerp, 19 April 2016 [link]

  • *How to Read Your Social Footprint, Social Media for Business Consortium (CfBI), London, 17-18 Feb 2016

  • *Who Needs to Ask a Question? Using Social Media to Predict Behaviour, Insight Innovation Exchange NA, Atlanta, 17 June 2015 [video][slides][link]

Human Resources

  • *The Pros and Cons of Digital Footprint Analysis in HR, Poolstok Community Big Data Event, Ghent, 26 February 2019 [link]

  • *Hacking HR: A Smarter Approach to Assessment in the Digital Age, Employee Engagement Forum, Dubai, December 2014 [slides]

  • *The Information Age Job Market & How to Hack Traditional HR, HRVision Event, Amsterdam, June 2014

Executive Director

Contact Details

Available for consultancy