Please join us for the NLP Seminar on Monday, March 12  at 4:00pm in 202 South Hall.   All are welcome!

Speaker: Rob Voigt (Stanford)

Title: Implicit Attitudes, NLP, and the “Real World”


While some forms of bias in language are explicit, such as overt references to stereotypes, much linguistic bias is far more subtle, where implicit attitudes towards social groups pervasively affect how we talk to and about members of those groups. As a result, such variation is often identifiable only in aggregate accounting for the contexts of language use. In this talk, I will present two projects from my dissertation which aim to complement NLP techniques with on-the-ground facts about the world to understand the joint linguistic and extralinguistic factors that contribute to social biases.

First, I’ll present the results of a study using body camera footage from the Oakland Police Department as interactional data for analyzing racial disparities in officer language. Applying a computational linguistic model of respect across a month of everyday traffic stops, we found that officers were less respectful to black than to white community members, even after controlling for social factors like officer race and contextual factors like the location of the stop and the severity of the offense. Second, I’ll present ongoing work exploring representations of immigrants in the US news media over historical time. Our results thus far suggest cyclic patterns of linguistic “othering” that recur with each immigrant group as they arrive and are directly connected to economic and demographic circumstances of those groups.

( Slides )