Learning to represent human motives for goal-directed web browsing

Jyun Yu Jiang, Chia Jung Lee, Longqi Yang, Bahareh Sarrafzadeh, Brent Hecht, Jaime Teevan

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


Motives or goals are recognized in psychology literature as the most fundamental drive that explains and predicts why people do what they do, including when they browse the web. Although providing enormous value, these higher-ordered goals are often unobserved, and little is known about how to leverage such goals to assist people's browsing activities. This paper proposes to take a new approach to address this problem, which is fulfilled through a novel neural framework, Goal-directed Web Browsing (GoWeB). We adopt a psychologically-sound taxonomy of higher-ordered goals and learn to build their representations in a structure-preserving manner. Then we incorporate the resulting representations for enhancing the experiences of common activities people perform on the web. Experiments on large-scale data from Microsoft Edge web browser show that GoWeB significantly outperforms competitive baselines for in-session web page recommendation, re-visitation classification, and goal-based web page grouping. A follow-up analysis further characterizes how the variety of human motives can affect the difference observed in human behavioral patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRecSys 2021 - 15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450384582
StatePublished - Sep 13 2021
Event15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems, RecSys 2021 - Virtual, Online, Netherlands
Duration: Sep 27 2021Oct 1 2021

Publication series

NameRecSys 2021 - 15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems


Conference15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems, RecSys 2021
CityVirtual, Online


  • Goal Representation Learning
  • User Behavior
  • User Goals
  • Web Browser Session Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture


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