Moment of change: Predicting Cognitive Restructuring in Online Mental Health ForumsDownload PDF

Sep 25, 2018MIC 2018 Conference SubmissionReaders: Everyone
  • Keywords: computational psychology, social computing, topic modeling
  • TL;DR: We computationally predict if a person using a mental health forum will achieve a cognitive shift in perspective
  • Abstract: While it is clear that working to deconstruct and reframe irrational thoughts can help bring positive perspective shifts to those suffering from mental distress, the specific factors that precipitate a moment of cognitive change are unclear, particularly in peer-to-peer support. Through data from an on- line mental health forum, we study patterns of peer support to shed light on how moments of cognitive change happen in online communities. Consistent with psychological literature, we use markers of language associated with moments of change, and explore how temporal changes in sentiment surrounding specific topics can approximate cognitive restructuring processes. In addition, we find that culture mediates the effect of these features. Based on the above findings, we propose a predictive model that can distinguish which conversation thread or a post is associated with a moment of cognitive change, and discuss the implications of our work for forum design and online peer support
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