Month: December 2011

Intentions and Opinions

In the last blog post, I talked about intention analysis and what it does.

Intention analysis is the identification of intentions from text. Some examples of intentions are:

a) intention to complain
b) intention to inquire
c) intention to issue a directive
d) intention to buy

In this post, I am claiming that Sentiment Analysis needs Intention Analysis.

Yes, the results of sentiment analysis will be inaccurate unless you know that the intent of the speaker is to express an opinion.

Background

When sentiment analysis was initially proposed by researchers, they applied it to the analysis of product reviews.

The intention of a reviewer is obvious. Reviewers have only one intention: the intention to opine (either to praise or to criticize).

However, with the growth of social media, especially Twitter, the same sentiment analysis methods began to be applied to the analysis of twitter streams and other social media streams.

Now that’s where there is a problem.

Not every message on Twitter that mentions a particular product or brand intends to express an opinion about the brand!

Below are a few illustrative examples.

Example 1: “Is the Canon EOS 5 a good camera?”

This sentence is not an expression of positive opinion, but an inquiry about the Canon EOS 5.

In other words, the intent of the speaker is not to express an opinion, but to inquire.

Example 2: “I am looking to buy me a good Canon camera”

Here, the intention of the user is to purchase a product (people only indicate a preference for good things … no one really looks to buy a bad camera).

However, most sentiment analysis tools will identify this sentence as an expression of positive sentiment.

Example 3: “Take me to a good movie.”

Here, the speaker’s intent is to direct someone to do something.

A directive is not an assertion, and so does not always imply an intention to opine.

Example 4: “My good old Porsche for sale (cheap)”

Here, the speaker’s intent is to talk up something they’re selling.

The intent here is not to express sentiment about the brand.

Conclusion

So, what we can learn from the above examples is that sentiment analysis is not meant to be applied without reservations to Social Media Analysis.

In other words, for sentiment analysis to be accurate when applied to social media, it needs to be supported by intention analysis.

Demonstration

We recently released a sentiment analysis API that has the ability to filter out many kinds of intention including the ones listed above. We’d love to get your thoughts on our work. The demo is available at the following URL:

Demonstration of VakSent (a Sentiment Analysis API from Aiaioo Labs)

Do write me at cohan@aiaioo.com with intent to opine!

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