Alicia is a third year PhD student in the Psychology Department at the University of Exeter. She holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Bath. Alicia's research uses computational methodologies to test social psychological hypotheses using naturally occurring online data. More specifically, she uses natural language processing techniques to ascertain whether it is possible to determine social group characteristics. On a more general level, she wishes to encourage other social scientists to branch into more novel methodologies for studying psychological processes online. She is excited for how the collaboration between computer scientists, mathematicians and social scientists will enable the advancement of computational social science as a discipline.
Social psychologists have developed and tested theories of group and individual psychology for decades, however few theorists have sought to test these well-established theories using naturally occurring online data. Whilst much social psychological research takes place in laboratory conditions or using self-report survey data, Alicia wishes to combine these traditional offline approaches with more computational online approaches to better understand how we can test theories online and better understand online human behaviour.
At present, Alicia is studying patterns in the linguistic style of online forum posts in order to understand how influential an individual is in relation to their group. Moreover, using theories of social psychology, she wishes to understand whether it will be possible to predict which individuals are likely to become influential in the future through the study of language. Her research uses basic natural language processing techniques, machine learning and social network analysis techniques in order to compare and contrast her linguistic approach to the current approaches used to study social influence online. She is also working alongside the National Crime Agency in order to apply her novel methodology within the criminal sphere.
Whilst at the Turing, Alicia wishes to develop her understanding of current approaches to social influence from a network theory perspective. In parallel to this goal, she wishes to gain a better understanding of the more complex approaches to natural language processing.