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Natural Language Processing and Psychology

Natural Language Processing and Psychology
Instructor: Rivka Levitan
Prerequisites: LING 78100 or similar
 
Course description: Language expression is a physical process that is inextricably tied to high-level mental processes. As such, it has the potential to shed light on the inner workings of an individual's thoughts and psyche. This course covers topics in psychology that are uniquely associated with written and oral language expression and how they can be modeled using natural language processing techniques. The goal of the course is to introduce students to research topics at the intersection of the two disciplines, focusing on how natural language processing techniques can help test psychological theories, and how psychological theories can help inform approaches to NLP applications.
 
Topics covered will include: gender, deception, emotion, entrainment, trauma, mental illnesses, psychopathy, autism, liking and conflict, personality, dominance and influence.
 
Learning outcomes:
The student will be able to critically read a research paper in natural language processing or psychology;
use spoken and natural language processing tools and techniques evaluate spoken and natural language processing applications;
design a natural language processing approach to a research problem in psychology use knowledge of psychology to inform an approach to a spoken or natural language processing task.
In addition, the student will be familiar with research topics and state of the art at the intersection of the two disciplines of natural language processing and psychology.
 
Text/material: There is no textbook for this course. Readings will be assigned from research papers.

Assignments/tests:
Assignments: 30% (3 x 10%). These assigments will involve analyzing data, performing a classification task, and writing a short report.
Midterm report: 30%. Further self-directed research into one of the issues covered in class (1500- 2000 words). Describe the issue, discuss and evaluate previous work, suggest new approaches.
Final project: 35%. An original research project applying natural language processing techniques to a topic in psychology. Acceptable project ideas will most likely involve a novel modification to an existing approach or applying standard techniques to a novel problem. Part of the project will include a short report on the algorithm, data or problem, and evaluation.
Participation: 5%. Includes attendance and contributions to class discussion.