Deconfounded Lexicon Induction for Interpretable Social Science

NLP algorithms are increasingly used in computational social science to take linguistic observations and predict outcomes like human preferences or actions. Making these social models transparent and interpretable often requires identifying features in the input that predict outcomes while also controlling for potential confounds... We formalize this need as a new task: inducing a lexicon that is predictive of a set of target variables yet uncorrelated to a set of confounding variables. We introduce two deep learning algorithms for the task. The first uses a bifurcated architecture to separate the explanatory power of the text and confounds. The second uses an adversarial discriminator to force confound-invariant text encodings. Both elicit lexicons from learned weights and attentional scores. We use them to induce lexicons that are predictive of timely responses to consumer complaints (controlling for product), enrollment from course descriptions (controlling for subject), and sales from product descriptions (controlling for seller). In each domain our algorithms pick words that are associated with \textit{narrative persuasion}; more predictive and less confound-related than those of standard feature weighting and lexicon induction techniques like regression and log odds. read more

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