25 July 2022

Mayor, E., Bietti, L.M. & Canales-Rodríguez, E.J. (2022) Text as signal. A tutorial with case studies focusing on social media (Twitter). Behavior Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-022-01917-1

Abstract. Sentiment analysis is the automated coding of emotions expressed in text. Sentiment analysis and other types of analyses focusing on the automatic coding of textual documents are increasingly popular in psychology and computer science. However, the potential of treating automatically coded text collected with regular sampling intervals as a signal is currently overlooked. We use the phrase "text as signal" to refer to the application of signal processing techniques to coded textual documents sampled with regularity. In order to illustrate the potential of treating text as signal, we introduce the reader to a variety of such techniques in a tutorial with two case studies in the realm of social media analysis. First, we apply finite response impulse filtering to emotion-coded tweets posted during the US Election Week of 2020 and discuss the visualization of the resulting variation in the filtered signal. We use changepoint detection to highlight the important changes in the emotional signals. Then we examine data interpolation, analysis of periodicity via the fast Fourier transform (FFT), and FFT filtering to personal value-coded tweets from November 2019 to October 2020 and link the variation in the filtered signal to some of the epoch-defining events occurring during this period. Finally, we use block bootstrapping to estimate the variability/uncertainty in the resulting filtered signals. After working through the tutorial, the readers will understand the basics of signal processing to analyze regularly sampled coded text.


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