Sentiment analysis research has focused on using text for predicting sentiments without considering the unavoidable peer influence on user emotions and opinions. The lack of large-scale ground-truth data on sentiments of users in social networks has limited research on how predictable sentiments are from social ties. In this paper, using a large-scale dataset on human sentiments, we study sentiment prediction within social networks. We demonstrate that sentiments are predictable using structural properties of social networks alone. With social science and psychology literature, we provide evidence on sentiments being connected to social relationships at four different network levels, starting from the ego-network level and moving up to the whole-network level. We discuss emotional signals that can be captured at each level of social relationships and investigate the importance of structural features on each network levels. We demonstrate that sentiment prediction that solely relies on social network structure can be as (or more) accurate than text-based techniques. For the situations where complete posts and friendship information are difficult to get, we analyze the trade-off between the sentiment prediction performance and the available information. When computational resources are limited, we show that using only four network properties, one can predict sentiments with competitive accuracy. Our findings can be used to (1) validate the peer influence on user sentiments, (2) improve classical text-based sentiment prediction methods, (3) enhance friend recommendation by utilizing sentiments, and (4) help identify personality traits.
Recommended citation: “Shengmin Jin and Reza Zafarani. “Sentiment Prediction in Social Networks.” 2018 IEEE International Conference on Data Mining Workshops (ICDMW). IEEE, 2018.