Scanning Social Media For Signs Of Domestic Violence

Researchers in China have developed predictive models using data from social media posts to assess the impact of domestic violence on the mental health of victims.

AsianScientist (Mar. 7, 2018) – Scientists from the Institute of Psychology in China have used data from online social networks to evaluate the mental health of victims shortly before and after suffering an act of domestic violence. They published their findings in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Domestic violence is a serious social problem that has a severe psychological impact on its victims and witnesses. A survey conducted in 2002 revealed that domestic violence is prevalent in about 30 percent of China’s families. Research on the impact of domestic violence, especially in the short term, can help shed light on the mental health of victims so that better help can be rendered to them.

However, as domestic violence is an emergency, it is difficult to measure the mental status of victims of domestic violence before their first experience. In this study, the researchers proposed a new method—Online Ecological Recognition (OER), which can measure the mental health of victims shortly before and after a domestic violence event using data from online social networks.

The researchers first manually identified 232 victims of domestic violence from over one million social media users who used specific keywords related to domestic violence in their posts. They then developed mental health prediction models to assess the mental state of the victims before domestic violence occurred, and four weeks after domestic violence was reported.

The predictive models were based on 88 linguistic features and 11 behavioral features extracted from social network Weibo posts. Predicted mental health parameters included depression, suicide probability and life satisfaction.

The results showed that in four weeks, victims of domestic violence were more prone to depression, exhibited higher suicidal probability and had lower life satisfaction. The study also found that abused children suffered even more psychologically in the short term.

The success of OER in the current study hints at its future potential for studying the psychological impact of traumatic events and for monitoring mental health.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2018) Using Social Media to Explore the Consequences of Domestic Violence on Mental Health.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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