Concept-Guided Chain-of-Thought Prompting for Pairwise Comparison Scaling of Texts with Large Language Models

In this working paper, we leverage generative large language models to develop a text scaling method and apply it to affective speech on Twitter.


Existing text scaling methods often require a large corpus, struggle with short texts, or require labeled data. We develop a text scaling method that leverages the pattern recognition capabilities of generative large language models (LLMs). Specifically, we propose concept-guided chain-of-thought (CGCoT), which uses prompts designed to summarize ideas and identify target parties in texts to generate concept-specific breakdowns, in many ways similar to guidance for human coder content analysis. CGCoT effectively shifts pairwise text comparisons from a reasoning problem to a pattern recognition problem. We then pairwise compare concept-specific breakdowns using an LLM. We use the results of these pairwise comparisons to estimate a scale using the Bradley-Terry model. We use this approach to scale affective speech on Twitter. Our measures correlate more strongly with human judgments than alternative approaches like Wordfish. Besides a small set of pilot data to develop the CGCoT prompts, our measures require no additional labeled data and produce binary predictions comparable to a RoBERTa-Large model fine-tuned on thousands of human-labeled tweets. We demonstrate how combining substantive knowledge with LLMs can create state-of-the-art measures of abstract concepts.