Austin van Loon

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology
B.S. Sociology, University of Iowa, 2016
B.A. Psychology, University of Iowa, 2016

General Information

My research centers around meaning: how we make it, how we come to (dis)agree on it, how it shapes what we do, how it shapes what we get, and how we can measure it. My areas of interest are social psychology, the sociology of culture, organizational sociology, economic sociology, and methodology. I have substantive interests in U.S. politics and workplace inequalities. In my research, I make use of a broad range of tools, including: automated text analysis, machine learning, network analysis, experiments, and observational causal inference. Check out my personal website ( for more information!

I am a member of the Computational Culture Lab, a member of the Polarization and Social Change Lab (PaSCL), and an alumnus of the 2019 Princeton Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS). I am a Stanford Ric Weiland fellow and have received additional funding from the Russell Sage Foundation, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Lab for Social Research (LSR), as well as the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS). My work has been published in American Behavioral ScientistThe Proceedings of EMNLPThe Proceedings of ICWSMPLOS ONE and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Publications and Writings

Loon, Austin van, Salvatore Giorgi, Robb Willer, and Johannes Eichstaedt. 2022. “Negative Associations in Word Embeddings Predict Anti-Black Bias Across Regions—but Only via Name Frequency”. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) 2022. (check out the paper here)

Loon, Austin van and Jeremy Freese. Forthcoming. “Word embeddings reveal how fundamental sentiments structure natural language”.  American Behavioral Scientist. (check out the paper here)

Loon, Austin van, Sheridan Stewart, Brandon Waldon, Shrinidhi K. Lakshmikanth, Ishan Shah, Sharath Chandra Guntuku, Garrick Sherman, James Zou, and Johannes Eichstaedt. 2020. “Explaining the ‘Trump Gap’ in Social Distancing Using COVID Discourse”. Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for COVID-19 (Part 2) at EMNLP 2020. (check out the paper here)

Loon, Austin van. 2020. “Health Behavior Disparities Along Party Lines and Associative Diffusion”. ASA Culture Section Newsletter. (check it out here)

Matthew Salganik, Ian Lundberg, Alex Kindel … Austin van Loon … Sara McLanahan. 2020. “Measuring the predictability of life outcomes with a scientific mass collaboration”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(15): 8398-8403. (check out the paper here)

Loon, Austin van, Jeremy Bailenson, Jamil Zaki, Joshua Bostick, and Robb Willer. 2018. “Virtual reality perspective-taking increases cognitive empathy for specific others”. PLOS ONE, 13(8):e0202442. (check out the paper here)

Working Papers

Loon, Austin van. “Three Families of Automated Text Analysis”. Revise and resubmit at Social Science Research. (check out the working paper here)

Guilbeault, Doug, Austin van Loon, Katharina Lix, Amir Goldberg, and Sameer Srivastava. “Cognitive Diversity Promotes Social Learning—But Only When Cognitive Differences Are Obscured”, Revise and Resubmit at Management Science. (check out the working paper here)

Loon, Austin van, Amir Goldberg, and Sameer Srivastava. “Imagined Otherness: Outgroup Dehumanization Arises from Perceived Schematic Difference”. (check out the working paper here)


Building 120, Room S19 (sub-basement)