The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Dustin Tingley: Topic models for open ended survey responses with applications to experiments

Fri, February 22, 2013 | BAT 5.108

1:00 PM

In most areas of life individuals communicate either by writing or by speaking. Yet, in many experiments/surveys subjects communicate by choosing options along a scale or in pre-established categories. These constructs, while helpful for many reasons, might not represent an individual's actual views or state of mind. If the same individual were forced to explain their position, then they might report something else. But relatively few studies collect written responses, and when they do they are rarely analyzed because it is assumed that human coding is required. We introduce an alternative approach, that makes analyzing open ended responses easier, more revealing, and capable of being used to estimate treatment e ffects, compliance with encouragement designs, and changes in how states describe events in other states. Our approach takes advantage of the Structural Topic Model introduced by Roberts et al. (2012a). We illustrate these innovations with several experiments and results from international relations.

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