Alex Fine

Also published as: Alex B. Fine


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Assessing population-level symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicide risk in real time using NLP applied to social media data
Alex Fine | Patrick Crutchley | Jenny Blase | Joshua Carroll | Glen Coppersmith
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science

Prevailing methods for assessing population-level mental health require costly collection of large samples of data through instruments such as surveys, and are thus slow to reflect current, rapidly changing social conditions. This constrains how easily population-level mental health data can be integrated into health and policy decision-making. Here, we demonstrate that natural language processing applied to publicly-available social media data can provide real-time estimates of psychological distress in the population (specifically, English-speaking Twitter users in the US). We examine population-level changes in linguistic correlates of mental health symptoms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the killing of George Floyd. As a case study, we focus on social media data from healthcare providers, compared to a control sample. Our results provide a concrete demonstration of how the tools of computational social science can be applied to provide real-time or near-real-time insight into the impact of public events on mental health.

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Social media data as a lens onto care-seeking behavior among women veterans of the US armed forces
Kacie Kelly | Alex Fine | Glen Coppersmith
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science

In this article, we examine social media data as a lens onto support-seeking among women veterans of the US armed forces. Social media data hold a great deal of promise as a source of information on needs and support-seeking among individuals who are excluded from or systematically prevented from accessing clinical or other institutions ostensibly designed to support them. We apply natural language processing (NLP) techniques to more than 3 million Tweets collected from 20,000 Twitter users. We find evidence that women veterans are more likely to use social media to seek social and community engagement and to discuss mental health and veterans’ issues significantly more frequently than their male counterparts. By contrast, male veterans tend to use social media to amplify political ideologies or to engage in partisan debate. Our results have implications for how organizations can provide outreach and services to this uniquely vulnerable population, and illustrate the utility of non-traditional observational data sources such as social media to understand the needs of marginalized groups.


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Cross-cultural differences in language markers of depression online
Kate Loveys | Jonathan Torrez | Alex Fine | Glen Moriarty | Glen Coppersmith
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology: From Keyboard to Clinic

Depression is a global mental health condition that affects all cultures. Despite this, the way depression is expressed varies by culture. Uptake of machine learning technology for diagnosing mental health conditions means that increasingly more depression classifiers are created from online language data. Yet, culture is rarely considered as a factor affecting online language in this literature. This study explores cultural differences in online language data of users with depression. Written language data from 1,593 users with self-reported depression from the online peer support community 7 Cups of Tea was analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), topic modeling, data visualization, and other techniques. We compared the language of users identifying as White, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian or Pacific Islander. Exploratory analyses revealed cross-cultural differences in depression expression in online language data, particularly in relation to emotion expression, cognition, and functioning. The results have important implications for avoiding depression misclassification from machine-driven assessments when used in a clinical setting, and for avoiding inadvertent cultural biases in this line of research more broadly.


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Biases in Predicting the Human Language Model
Alex B. Fine | Austin F. Frank | T. Florian Jaeger | Benjamin Van Durme
Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)


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Syntactic Adaptation in Language Comprehension
Alex Fine | Ting Qian | T. Florian Jaeger | Robert Jacobs
Proceedings of the 2010 Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics