We investigate the use of NLP as a measure of the cognitive processes involved in storytelling, contrasting imagination and recollection of events. To facilitate this, we collect and release Hippocorpus, a dataset of 7,000 stories about imagined and recalled events. We introduce a measure of narrative flow and use this to examine the narratives for imagined and recalled events. Additionally, we measure the differential recruitment of knowledge attributed to semantic memory versus episodic memory (Tulving, 1972) for imagined and recalled storytelling by comparing the frequency of descriptions of general commonsense events with more specific realis events. Our analyses show that imagined stories have a substantially more linear narrative flow, compared to recalled stories in which adjacent sentences are more disconnected. In addition, while recalled stories rely more on autobiographical events based on episodic memory, imagined stories express more commonsense knowledge based on semantic memory. Finally, our measures reveal the effect of narrativization of memories in stories (e.g., stories about frequently recalled memories flow more linearly; Bartlett, 1932). Our findings highlight the potential of using NLP tools to study the traces of human cognition in language.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns for many regarding personal and public health implications, financial security and economic stability. Alongside many other unprecedented challenges, there are increasing concerns over social isolation and mental health. We introduce Expressive Interviewing – an interview-style conversational system that draws on ideas from motivational interviewing and expressive writing. Expressive Interviewing seeks to encourage users to express their thoughts and feelings through writing by asking them questions about how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. We present relevant aspects of the system’s design and implementation as well as quantitative and qualitative analyses of user interactions with the system. In addition, we conduct a comparative evaluation with a general purpose dialogue system for mental health that shows our system potential in helping users to cope with COVID-19 issues.
Personal writings have inspired researchers in the fields of linguistics and psychology to study the relationship between language and culture to better understand the psychology of people across different cultures. In this paper, we explore this relation by developing cross-cultural word models to identify words with cultural bias – i.e., words that are used in significantly different ways by speakers from different cultures. Focusing specifically on two cultures: United States and Australia, we identify a set of words with significant usage differences, and further investigate these words through feature analysis and topic modeling, shedding light on the attributes of language that contribute to these differences.