An Ordinal Latent Variable Model of Conflict Intensity
For the quantitative monitoring of international relations, political events are extracted from the news and parsed into "who-did-what-to-whom" patterns. This has resulted in large data collections which require aggregate statistics for analysis. The Goldstein Scale is an expert-based measure that ranks individual events on a one-dimensional scale from conflictual to cooperative. However, the scale disregards fatality counts as well as perpetrator and victim types involved in an event. This information is typically considered in qualitative conflict assessment. To address this limitation, we propose a probabilistic generative model over the full subject-predicate-quantifier-object tuples associated with an event. We treat conflict intensity as an interpretable, ordinal latent variable that correlates conflictual event types with high fatality counts. Taking a Bayesian approach, we learn a conflict intensity scale from data and find the optimal number of intensity classes. We evaluate the model by imputing missing data. Our scale proves to be more informative than the original Goldstein Scale in autoregressive forecasting and when compared with global online attention towards armed conflicts.