Incorporating social role theory into topic models for social media content analysis

Wayne Xin Zhao, Jinpeng Wang, Yulan He, Jian-Yun Nie, Ji-Rong Wen, Xiaoming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we explore the idea of social role theory (SRT) and propose a novel regularized topic model which incorporates SRT into the generative process of social media content. We assume that a user can play multiple social roles, and each social role serves to fulfil different duties and is associated with a role-driven distribution over latent topics. In particular, we focus on social roles corresponding to the most common social activities on social networks. Our model is instantiated on microblogs, i.e., Twitter and community question-answering (cQA), i.e., Yahoo! Answers, where social roles on Twitter include "originators" and "propagators", and roles on cQA are "askers" and "answerers". Both explicit and implicit interactions between users are taken into account and modeled as regularization factors. To evaluate the performance of our proposed method, we have conducted extensive experiments on two Twitter datasets and two cQA datasets. Furthermore, we also consider multi-role modeling for scientific papers where an author's research expertise area is considered as a social role. A novel application of detecting users' research interests through topical keyword labeling based on the results of our multi-role model has been presented. The evaluation results have shown the feasibility and effectiveness of our model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1044
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

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Funding: National Key Basic Research Program (973 Program) of China under Grant No.2014CB340403; the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. M13210007; 973 Program with Grant No.2014CB340405 and NSFC Grant 61272340; EPSRC Grant EP/L010690/1.


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