Spanish researchers develop an algorithm capable of identifying disgruntled users and their mental health on social networks

Our social media updates give the world insight into our personality in general and our needs and perspectives on these issues in particular. But what if there was also a way to judge exactly how we felt the moment we shared an image, video or any other message. To be able to understand this, researchers at the Open University of Catalonia in Spain have developed an algorithm which they believe can identify disgruntled people by filtering the messages they share on social media. The researchers believe that this tool could be useful in diagnosing possible communication and mental health problems.

The team worked on this deep learning model for two years. The researchers relied on American psychiatrist William Glasser’s theory of choice, which describes five basic needs at the heart of all human behavior: survival, power, freedom, belonging and pleasure. They say these needs influence the images we choose to upload to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The study also found that Spanish-speaking users were more likely to mention relationship problems on social media when feeling depressed than English-speaking users.

“The way we present ourselves on social media can provide useful information about behaviors, personalities, perspectives, motivations and needs,” Mohammad Mahdi Dehshibi, who led the study, said in a statement.

Dehshibi and his team of researchers analyzed 86 Instagram profiles, in Spanish and Persian, for the study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing. They believe their research can help improve preventive measures, ranging from identification to improving treatment when someone has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

But how does the algorithm work? Dehshibi explains this by citing the example of a cyclist climbing a mountain. Once at the top, whether the person chooses to share a selfie or a group photo can help to understand their mental state. If the person chooses a selfie, it is perceived as a need for power. If he chooses the other option, we conclude that the person is looking for more than pleasure, but also a way to satisfy his need to belong.

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Spanish researchers develop an algorithm capable of identifying disgruntled users and their mental health on social networks


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