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Conceptual Organization is Revealed by Consumer Activity Patterns

Hornsby, AN; Evans, T; Riefer, PS; Prior, R; Love, BC; (2019) Conceptual Organization is Revealed by Consumer Activity Patterns. Computational Brain & Behavior , 3 pp. 162-173. 10.1007/s42113-019-00064-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Computational models using text corpora have proved useful in understanding the nature of language and human concepts. One appeal of this work is that text, such as from newspaper articles, should reflect human behaviour and conceptual organization outside the laboratory. However, texts do not directly reflect human activity, but instead serve a communicative function and are highly curated or edited to suit an audience. Here, we apply methods devised for text to a data source that directly reflects thousands of individuals’ activity patterns. Using product co-occurrence data from nearly 1.3-m supermarket shopping baskets, we trained a topic model to learn 25 high-level concepts (or topics). These topics were found to be comprehensible and coherent by both retail experts and consumers. The topics indicated that human concepts are primarily organized around goals and interactions (e.g. tomatoes go well with vegetables in a salad), rather than their intrinsic features (e.g. defining a tomato by the fact that it has seeds and is fleshy). These results are consistent with the notion that human conceptual knowledge is tailored to support action. Individual differences in the topics sampled predicted basic demographic characteristics. Our findings suggest that human activity patterns can reveal conceptual organization and may give rise to it.

Type: Article
Title: Conceptual Organization is Revealed by Consumer Activity Patterns
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s42113-019-00064-9
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42113-019-00064-9
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Cognition, Computational social science, Big data, Machine learning, Decision making
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091511
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