Psychological processes underlying Wikipedia representations of natural and manmade disasters

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Paper presented at Wikisym 2012: Collective memories are precious resources for the society, because they help strengthening emotional bonding between community members, maintaining groups cohesion, and directing future behavior. Studying how people form their collective memories of emotional upheavals is important in order to better understand people's reactions and the consequences on their psychological health. Previous research investigated the effects of single traumatizing events, but few of them tried to compare different types of traumatic events like natural and man-made disasters. In this paper, interpreting Wikipedia as a collective memory place, we compare articles about natural and human-made disasters employing automated natural language techniques, in order to highlight the different psychological processes underlying users' sensemaking activities.

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  • A set of ideas and feelings about the past, built through discussion, public ceremonies, memorials (1) Lincoln memorial, (2) Jews, (3) Ocklaoma City bombings, (4) Washington memorial.
  • Because: - social sharing - increase of violence - psychological + health problems - good perspective for the study of collective memory processes - literature on cultural trauma research (trauma as cultural process)
  • This assumption is drawn from Halbwachs’s notion of collective memory (social function of memory: people feel united through the construction of a common past), the Assmanns’ discussion of communicative and cultural memory (everyday communication, interactive, informal VS objective, formal, well organized ), Nora’s memory places (any entity which has become a symbolic element of the memory heritage of a community) and Vansina’s ‘floating gap’ model (as the time goes by recent past – expressed in interactive communication - goes into the background, fading).
  • Psychological processes underlying Wikipedia representations of natural and manmade disasters

    1. 1. Psychological processes underlying Wikipedia representations of natural and manmade disasters Michela Ferron Paolo Massa Center for Mind/Brain Sciences Fondazione University of Trento Bruno Kessler m.ferron@unitn.it massa@fbk.eu
    2. 2. Anti-Islamic hate crimes after 9/11moviesLegislation &surveillance
    3. 3. Outline Collective Memories Wikipedia as a global memory place Automated natural language techniques  Traumatic VS Non traumatic events  Old VS recent traumatic events  Traumatic events caused by man VS nature ConclusionsBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    4. 4. Collective Memories  A set of ideas, images, feelings about the past, built through an active process of sense-making through time Memorial Lincoln to thememorial murdered Jews of Europe Wahington Ocklaoma memorial City bombings memorial Photos: Wikipedia (1, 2, 3, 4) Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    5. 5. Traumatic events September 11 attacks 2005 London bombings 2004 IndianTsunami Kennedy assassination Photos: Wikipedia (1, 2) and Flickr (3, 4)Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    6. 6. Traumatic events short-term and long-term effectsAfter a traumatic event: Collective memories: Anti-Islamic hate crimes Violence increases  Maintain social bonds after 9/11 (Pennebaker and Harber, 1993; FBI national hate crime statistics) (Wang, 2008; Irwin-Zarecka, 1994) Psychological/health problems  increase of negative emotions  Direct behavior (Wang, 2008; Pennebaker et al., 1997; Irwin-Zarecka, 1994) (Koss & Kilpatrick, 2001; Stroebe, Hansson, Stroebe, & Schut, 2001)  increase of cognitive activity  Are persistent for years and (Davis & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001; Pennebaker et al., 2003) can be at the root of wars,  increase of social sharing and prejudice, cultural identities social support (Pennebaker et al., 1997) (Mehl & Pennebaker, 2003; Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2002; Rimé et al.,1998) Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    7. 7. Wikipedia as a global memory placeWhat happens in WikipediaBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    8. 8. Wikipedia as a global memory place“[…] the online encyclopaedia is a global memory place where locally disconnected participants can express and debate divergent points of view and that this leads to the formation and ratification of shared knowledge that constitutes collective memory.” (Pentzold, 2009, p. 263)Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    9. 9. Automated natural language processing techniques Goal: to analyze the content of Wikipedia articles about natural and man-made disasters employing automated content analysis tools Linguistic Inquiry & Word Count (Pennebaker et al., 2001) searches for words across:  Linguistic categories (e.g. pronouns, articles, tenses)  Psychological categories (e.g. social, affective, cognitive processes)  Traumatic VS non traumatic events  Temporal focus of old VS recent eventsBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    10. 10. Traumatic and non traumatic events Hypotheses Psychological processes Examples Affective processes Happy, hate, kiss Positive emotions Love, party, pleasant Negative emotions Hurt, abuse, scary Anxiety Worried, afraid LIWC to get a score Anger Kill, aggression, destroy Sadness Sad, cry, depression for each psychological Cognitive processes Cause, acknowledge, admit variable Insight Think, assume, interpret Causation Because, depend, elicit Discrepancy Should, could, if Tentative Maybe, apparently, suppose Certainty Always, absolutely, clear Inhibition Block, abstain, avoid Inclusive And, add, along Exclusive But, either, without Social processes Mate, guy, boy Family Daughter, brother, dad Friends Buddy, friend, mate Humans Adult, children, girl Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    11. 11. Traumatic and non traumatic events Data Wikipedia’s categories (“Events by topic”), History Central and Information Britain  66 articles about traumatic events (e.g. September 11 attacks, 7 July 2005 London bombings, Chernobyl disaster)  40 articles about non traumatic events (e.g. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Woodstock Festival, Super Bowl XXXVIII)Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    12. 12. Traumatic and non traumatic events Hypotheses Psychological processes Examples Affective processes Happy, hate, kiss Positive emotions Love, party, pleasant Higher presence in articles Negative emotions Hurt, abuse, scary about traumatic events of: Anxiety Anger Worried, afraid Kill, aggression, destroy  negative emotions Sadness Sad, cry, depression Cognitive processes Cause, acknowledge, admit  cognitive processes Insight Think, assume, interpret  social processes Causation Because, depend, elicit Discrepancy Should, could, if Tentative Maybe, apparently, suppose Certainty Always, absolutely, clear Inhibition Block, abstain, avoid In articles about non Inclusive Exclusive And, add, along But, either, without traumatic events: Social processes Mate, guy, boy  positive emotions Family Daughter, brother, dad Friends Buddy, friend, mate Humans Adult, children, girl Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    13. 13. Traumatic and non traumatic events Analysis 1 negative emotion 14 total words   negative emotions  Arcsine transformation  T-tests for indipendent samplesBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    14. 14. Traumatic and non traumatic events ResultsAll differences in the graphsare statistically significant Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    15. 15. Temporal focus of old and recent traumatic events: Data & Analysis Articles in their early stage (after 500 revisions)  Temporal focus more evident  Many words per article Out of 55 articles  26 about events happened before 2001 (e.g. John F. Kennedy assassination)  29 about events happened after 2001 (e.g. 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami) LIWC: linguistics categories (past, present and future tenses) Arcsine transformation and t-tests for independent samplesBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    16. 16. Temporal focus of old and recent traumatic events: Hypotheses & Results HP: higher presence of past tense in old events, higher presence of present/future tenses in recent events * * *Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    17. 17. LIWC applied to Wikipedia LIWC is effective in detecting  Differences in content referred to psychological processes emerging from articles about traumatic and non traumatic events  Differences in the temporal focus of articles about old and recent traumatic eventsBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    18. 18. Natural and human-made traumatic events How people remember traumatic events:  Understand the consequences on the physical and psychological health of people and communities Differences in the psychological processes:  First step toward the understanding and the prediction of trauma, typical responses to it, and short and long-term effects Empirically validate theoretical findings in WikipediaBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    19. 19. Natural and human-made traumatic events Traumatic events can be very different Theoretical reasons to distinguish between natural and human-made traumatic events Literature: human accidents may have longer and more insidious effects of physical and psychological health:  negative emotions; nervousness and anxiety (Cohn et al., 2004; Adler, 1943)  psychological and work-related problems (Leopold and Dillon, 1963; Henderson and Bostock, 1977; Ploeger, 1972)  depression, anxiety, personality changes (Titchener and Kapp, 1976)  sleep disturbances and psychiatric problems (Gleser et al., 1981; Gleser et al., 1978)  war-related dreams and aggravated assaults (Pennebaker and Harber, 1993)Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    20. 20. Natural and human-made traumatic events Natural disasters Human disasters Uncontrollable Loss of control helplessness stress arousal 2004 IndianTsunami September 11 attacksBaum et al., 1986Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    21. 21. Natural and human-made traumatic events Data Articles in their early stage (after 500 revisions) Out of 55 articles with at least 500 revisions  36 about events caused by man (e.g. “Fort Hood shooting”, “2011 Norway attacks”)  Wikipedia’s categories, e.g. “Assassinations”, “Terrorist incidents”  19 about events caused by nature (e.g. “2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami”, “2010 Haiti earthquake”)  Wikipedia’s categories, e.g. “2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season”, “1993 natural disasters”Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    22. 22. Natural and human-made traumatic events Hypotheses Affective processes  Human-made disasters: loss of control (distress)  higher anxiety, anger  Natural disasters: uncontrollable (helplessness)  higher sadness Cognitive processes  Human-made disasters: loss of control  higher cognitive processes Social processes  Human-made disasters: increased orientation toward others + more references to people  higher social processes Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    23. 23. Natural and human-made traumatic events Results *  Human-made * traumatic events: *  more anxiety, anger (blame)  Natural disasters:  more sadness Affective processes Happy, hate, kiss (passive behavior) Positive emotions Love, party, pleasant Negative emotions Hurt, abuse, scary Anxiety Worried, afraid Anger Kill, aggression, destroy Sadness Sad, cry, depressionBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    24. 24. Natural and human-made traumatic events Results  Human-made * traumatic events:  need for explanation is * critical (unexpected * * loss of control)  Natural disasters:Cognitive processes Cause, acknowledge, admit  need for Insight Think, assume, interpret Causation Because, depend, elicit explanation is less Discrepancy Should, could, if pressing (nature is Tentative Maybe, apparently, suppose uncontrollable) Certainty Always, absolutely, clear Inhibition Block, abstain, avoid Inclusive And, add, along Exclusive But, either, withoutBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    25. 25. Natural and human-made traumatic events Results *  Human-made traumatic events:  higher social orientation? *  more references to people (bomber’s family or social relations)Social processes Mate, guy, boy Family Daughter, brother, dad Friends Buddy, friend, mate Humans Adult, children, girlBackground Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    26. 26. Considerations Difficult definition of human-made and natural disasters  Wikipedia’s categories  But the distinction is not always clear-cut (“2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami”) LIWC and other automated techniques  Limitations (psychological categories are subjective and context-dependent)  Know your data (noise caused by bots, vandalism, templates)Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    27. 27. Conclusions: Take-home message  Different psychological and sensemaking processes underlying users editing activity  Specific patterns of emotional language Arousal stressful high focused anger Man-made disasters activation anger, anxiety heavier effects negative positive Valencepassive responses Natural disasters sadness low activation Background Wikipedia LIWC Traum. - non traum. Old - recent Man - Nature Conclusions
    28. 28. Thank you!Questions? Suggestions?

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