Detecting low self-esteem in youths from web search data

Anis Zaman, Henry Kautz, Rupam Acharyya, Vincent Silenzio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Online behavior leaves a digital footprint that can be analyzed to reveal our cognitive and psychological state through time. Recognizing these subtle cues can help identify different aspects of mental health, such as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Google's web search engine, used daily by millions of people, logs every search query made by a user, which is accessible through a platform called Google Takeout. Previous researchers have made efforts to detect and predict behaviors associated with depression and anxiety from web data, but only at a population level. This paper fills in the gap of looking into signs of low self-esteem, a condition that work in a vicious cycle with depression and anxiety, at an individual level by looking into Google search history data. We target college students, a population prone to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and ask to take mental health assessment survey along with their individual search history. Textual analysis show that search logs contain strong signals that can identify individuals with current low self-esteem. For example, participants with low self-esteem have fewer searches pertaining to family, friend, and money attributes; and we also observed differences in the search category distribution, over time, when compared with individuals with moderate to high self-esteem. Using these markers we were able to build a probabilistic classifier that can identify low self-esteem conditions, based on search history, with an average F1 score of 0.86.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450366748
StatePublished - May 13 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event2019 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: May 13 2019May 17 2019

Publication series

NameThe Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019


Conference2019 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


  • College students
  • Individual search logs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mental health
  • Youths


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