Computational Social Science
Lab at Penn

CSS unites computer science, statistics, and social science to solve challenging real-world problems using digital data and platforms. Through mass collaboration with industry, government, and civil society, our research generates insights that advance basic science in the service of practical applications.

Example visualization from the YouTube Politics Dashboard

FEATURED

Radicalization at a Glance: PennMAP Launches Interactive Data Dashboard

The new dashboard is designed to make the Lab’s research on YouTube radicalization accessible and engaging to the general public — and, in the process, forms the first step towards revolutionizing research communication.

Computational Social Science Lab at Penn

CSS unites computer science, statistics, and social science to solve challenging real-world problems using novel theories. Through our mass collaboration with industry, government, and civil society, our path-breaking research generates solutions which are both innovative and practical.

News

Homa Hosseinmardi and Sam Wolken Speak at Annenberg Workshop
Homa Hosseinmardi and Sam Wolken Speak at Annenberg Workshop

Homa Hosseinmardi and Sam Wolken of the Computational Social Science Lab (CSSLab) were recently invited to speak at the Political and Information Networks Workshop on April 25-26. This workshop was organized by the Center for Information Networks and Democracy (CIND), a new lab under the Annenberg School of Communication. CIND studies how communication networks in the digital era play a role in democratic processes, and its research areas include Information Ecosystems and Political Segregation (or Partisan Segregation).

Joe Biden’s (but not Donald Trump’s) age: A case study in the New York Times’ inconsistent narrative selection and framing
Joe Biden’s (but not Donald Trump’s) age: A case study in the New York Times’ inconsistent narrative selection and framing

On the weekend of March 2-3, 2024, the landing page of the New York Times was dominated by coverage of their poll showing voter concern over President Biden’s age. There was a lot of concern among Democrats about the methods of the poll, especially around the low response rate and leading questions. But as a team of researchers who study both survey methods and mainstream media, we are not surprised that people are telling pollsters they are worried about Biden’s age. Why wouldn’t they? The mainstream media has been telling them to be worried about precisely this issue for months.

Hyperpartisan consumption on YouTube is shaped more by user preferences than the algorithm
Hyperpartisan consumption on YouTube is shaped more by user preferences than the algorithm

Given the sheer amount of content produced every day on a platform as large as YouTube, which hosts over 14 billion videos, the need for some sort of algorithmic curation is inevitable. As YouTube has attracted millions of views on partisan videos of a conspiratorial or radical nature, observers speculate that the platform’s algorithm unintentionally radicalizes its users by recommending hyperpartisan content based on their viewing history.

But is the algorithm the primary force driving these consumption patterns, or is something else at play?

Over the past 100 years, social science has generated a tremendous number of theories on the topics of individual and collective human behaviour. However, it has been much less successful at reconciling the innumerable inconsistencies and contradictions among these competing explanations.

Duncan Watts
CSSLab Founder

Over the past 100 years, social science has generated a tremendous number of theories on the topics of individual and collective human behaviour. However, it has been much less successful at reconciling the innumerable inconsistencies and contradictions among these competing explanations.

Duncan Watts
CSS Lab Founder

Researchers & Staff

Meet the CSSLab