Modelability across time as a signature of identity construction on YouTube

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Linguistic self-representation and identity construction on social media have attracted much scholarly attention. However, relevant studies tend to overlook the temporal dimension of social media, potentially systematic patterning of linguistic behavior across time, and the attendant implications of such a temporal perspective on identity. Combining an automated lexical tool (LIWC) and the Box–Jenkins method of statistical time series analysis, this paper shows how the ‘modelability’ of linguistic choices across time can be interpreted as signatures of identity construction and complement existing frameworks for identity analysis. Two levels of modelability are discussed—the availability of a well-fitting time series model as evidence of temporal patterning, and specific parameters of that model interpreted in context. These are demonstrated with a case study of the construction of ‘amateur expertise’ over 109 consecutive makeup tutorial videos on the popular YouTube channel ‘Nikkiestutorials’. Results show that the linguistic display of ‘analytical thinking’ reflects a strategy of ‘short term momentum’, the display of ‘clout’ and ‘authenticity’ a strategy of ‘short term restoration’, while the display of ‘emotional tone’ fluctuates randomly across time. The approach is further discussed in terms of its general principles and potential applications in other contexts of identity and related research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Identity construction
  • LIWC
  • Modelability
  • Social media
  • Time series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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