Computer program detects depressed bloggers.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel developed a computer program that they think can detect depression among bloggers. To test their hypothesis, they scanned 300,000 English-language blogs and had clinical psychologists read the subjects that the computer indicated were depressed. The psychologists agreed with the computer 78% of the time:
“The software program was designed to find depressive content hidden in language that did not mention the obvious terms like “depression” or suicide,” explains Prof. Neuman. “A psychologist knows how to spot various emotional states through intuition. Here, we have a program that does this methodically through the innovative use of ‘web intelligence.’”
For example, the program spots words that express various emotions, like colors that the writer employs to metaphorically describe certain situations. Words like “black” combined with other terms that describe symptoms of depression, such as sleep deprivation or loneliness, will be recognized by the software as “depressive” texts.