What is User Modeling? Social learning theory, behavior modeling, and correct stance (2023)

The emergence of big data and machine learning opened up many possibilities for making business operations more efficient and precise.

Given the fact that every piece of content or an application produces a lot of data, it seems obvious to use it in a beneficial manner both for the end-users and for the company. Before any of that happens, you need to understand who are you targeting.

What is User Modeling?

Understanding your target audience and delivering relevant content to them is one of the strategic priorities of any business operation.

User modeling's role is to prepare a solid frame of reference for understanding your target audience.

User modeling is a part of adata mining operation explicitly designed for an exploration of the target audience (based on specific characteristics) and understanding the distinct patterns of its behavior.

In a way, it is a direct result of human-computer interaction.This contributes to the furthering and more elaborate segmentation of the target audience. In turn, the resulting model prepares the system for the user-adapted interaction.

Why personalization matter?

Personalization, whether it is website content or advertisements, provides better precision of the targeting. It brings together the company and the customer, helping the company to define what is relevant to the particular segment of users and which type of content will click with them.

User modeling uses descriptive algorithms to find patterns and group them tooffer suggestions regarding the content for a specific audience.

Overall, it is the process that consists of the following stages:

  • composing a detailed “portrait” of certain user segments out of available data;
  • integrating it into the system so that it will be capable of reacting to the actions of certain audience segments accordingly.

User Model is the result of this process, and its purpose is to:

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  • Define user intentions
  • Explore user background (who is, where did he come from)
  • Explore the context of use, i.e., user intent (for example, to keep notes or count sheep)
  • Describe user traits and preferences

There is also a related term “user profile.” The difference between the user model and the user profile is that the latter is associated with a single user. In addition to that, user profiles are often using user-specified information while the user model is using information observed from the user’s actions.

Machine Learning for User Modeling

Due to the large amount of information required for processing, User Modeling applies Machine Learning algorithms to enable its operation.

User Modeling commonly uses these methods of machine learning:

  • Supervised Learning Classification: the algorithm is trained on labeled data and then used to classify new samples. In the meantime, it also detects unseen instances or anomalies.
  • Supervised Learning Regression: the algorithm is trained to estimate the relationship and values of the variable elements.
  • Unsupervised Learning Clustering: the algorithm is trained on the go with the unlabeled set of data in which it finds patterns and groups them accordingly.
  • The random Forest method applies multiple decision trees to split up the data set into the relevant segments.

User Modeling Examples

Search engines & Recommender systems / Social Networks

Recommendation engines and social networks are the primary fields where user models form the backbone of the entire operation.

Usually, these systems are used to present a selection of some content and also suggestions to interact with something (friends, promoted content, etc.), and user models create a "backdrop" for these actions.

For example:

  • Google search engine uses available search history and profile data to adjust search results;
  • Pinterest uses models to enable retargeting and mix it with the personalized content;
  • Amazon uses user and searches history and behavioral data to manage its inventory around the preferences of the user and compile “You might also like” section;
  • Netflix uses behavioral data and user history to compile the “You might also like” and “People also watch” sections;
  • Facebook and Twitter are using models to construct relevant newsfeed and offer reasonable friend suggestions;

In these cases, the amount of information used to form the model or profile may vary. However, it is important to note that recommendation services predominantly fuel their operation out of behavioral data AKA the one demonstrated while using a specific function.

Product Management / Knowledge Management

Monitoring product use is the most basic way of applying user models. In this case, there are several goals behind its use:

  • A critical assessment of the product use (who, why, when);
  • Finding the problematic points in product use and solving them (design flaws, glitches, etc.);
  • Ad retargeting (in case if there is ad content present)

As a result, you can get a big picture of how your product is used and what elements of the product need to be improved to keep the users from bouncing off. On the other hand, this information can help you understand how to market the product and what points to focus on.

Ad Tech / Digital Marketing

A clear and relevant picture of a target audience, its needs, and preferences is at the heart of ad tech operation. User models and profiles form the backbone for the retargeting process.

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Based on the user segments, ad content is shuffled around to deliver the best fitting piece at the right time.

The models are used on both ends of an operation. At first, they are used to form the campaign, then the information regarding interactions with ad content is later sent back to adjust models or profiles according to the performance results.

E-commerce Shopping Assistants

The purpose of user models in eCommerce is to amplify and maximize customer experience. eCommerce user models are used to adjust every element of the service according to the preferences of the user (explicitly stated or through demonstrated behavior) so that the shopping session will result in a purchase with a higher probability.

Overall, user models are used for the following features:

  1. Inventory customization shows products relevant to the user’s search queries, past preferences, and additional data (in case the user came from an affiliate link);
  2. “You might also like” features group certain product types that the user might be interested in;
  3. Ad Retargeting presents relevant ad content according to the behavioral, contextual, affiliate data;
  4. Navigation assistanceshows relevant types of products ranged in a specific category (price, brand, etc.);
  5. Showcasing relevant product information.

Healthcare Diagnosis & Treatment

User data combined with a database that retains information about various diseases and treatment results can be helpful in further exploration of the treatment possibilities.

In this case, the critical factor is the personalization and adjustment of both databases.

There are two ways such a combination can be used:

  • User profiling can be used to present personalized suggestions regarding diagnosis or treatment in correlation with the state of health and certain treatment limitations (due to allergies, etc.).
  • The system can be used in scenario simulation and testing out various courses of treatment without putting the patient in danger.

The challenge comes with the possible inconsistency of the patient data due to further developments of diseases or insufficient testing.

How does User Modeling work?

The process of user modeling is relatively easy to describe in plain language. While operating on the website or using an application — users are producing certain kinds of information.

Here are some of the more common examples of it:

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  • Transactional data (which gateway, currency, date, time, etc.)
  • Product use data (various actions, usage stats, etc.)
  • Demonstrated Web Behavior (session time, content preferences);
  • Customer-related input text data (registration, comments, chatbot interaction, etc.)
  • Social Media activity (logins, shares, etc.)

This information about users comes from two sources:

  1. the user itself (for example, upon registration or signing in via a specific account or filling the form);
  2. monitoring on-site/in-app user behavior (which pages are visited, what kind of content got clicked, and so on).

After that, the gathered information is fed into the data mining algorithm, which in turn takes out of its specific insights, the nature of which can be predetermined or discovered during the mining operation. For example:

  • Certain types of personal information (name, age, gender, job title)
  • Specific contact details (email, phone number, address)
  • User source (where the user comes from — search results, social media, affiliate links, etc.)
  • Content preferences (specific types of content, long session time, social media share, etc.)
  • Reaction to particular kinds of content (clicks on ads, transitions, bounces, etc.)
  • The lifetime value of a specific user (how much of the benefit you can generate from the user)

All this information is subsequently compiled into a user model/profile.

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The result of an operation is a user profile that can be subsequently integrated into the system and used in a variety of ways.

For example, this information can be integrated into the digital marketing operation to keep retargeting precise. On the other hand, product use information or web behavior can be used to improve functionality or design features of the product or website.

User Modeling approaches explained

There are four major approaches to composing user models.

Static User Modeling

Static user modeling is the approach where the information is gathered once and remains unmodified.

This approach includes any given set of data (personal and behavioral). Many services that don’t require customization or any other type of adaptation (for example, forum, image boards, blog platforms) use this type of user modeling.

Static user modeling is also used for machine learning algorithm training.

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Dynamic User Modeling

Unlike the static approach, in the dynamic user modeling approach, the information is gradually updated. It may include various sets of data with multiple groupings. As a result, the system is capable of adjusting the delivery on the go.

The dynamic approach is commonly used in recommendation engines and Ad Tech retargeting operation.

User Modeling via Stereotypes

User modeling via stereotypes means a generalized version of static profiles. Instead of making specific accounts for each user, user data is collected into larger chunks, united by common characteristics.

Once there is new incoming information, the stereotypes can be updated accordingly. This type of user modeling is preferable when you do not require personal information for effective operation.

Also, this is very useful in the European Union due to the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

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Highly-Adaptive User Modeling

Highly-adaptive user modeling is the opposite of the stereotypical approach. This type represents an extreme form of customization that requires as much information as possible to provide the result as precisely as possible.

Given the fact that personal data-related legislation is getting stricter and also growing privacy concerns — this type of profiling will likely wind down and be limited to behavior-based data, but there is a chance it will evolve into something else.


Knowing your audience is the key to a successful business operation.

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No wonder — without it, the whole thing will be more of a going all-guns blazing with your eyes closed hoping to hit something instead of building up the engagement of the audience and as a result generating a steady stream of conversions.

Therefore, choose the type of user modeling that fits your requirements and expectations, and implement it into your business. You win because you get more precise targeting and your customers win because they get what they want and you seem to read their minds :)

Need help implementing User Modeling?

Let's talk!


What is modeling in social learning theory? ›

He explains in his 1977 book Social Learning Theory, "most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions, this coded information serves as a guide for action."

What is user behavior modeling? ›

Customer Behavior Modeling is defined as the creation of a mathematical construct to represent the common behaviors observed among particular groups of customers in order to predict how similar customers will behave under similar circumstances.

What is the definition of user model? ›

A user model is the collection and categorization of personal data associated with a specific user. A user model is a (data) structure that is used to capture certain characteristics about an individual user, and a user profile is the actual representation in a given user model.

What is the meaning of social modeling? ›

Social modeling, also termed social learning, is a theory developed by Albert Bandura that states we can learn behavior by observing the actions of others. In order to truly learn the behavior we watch, there are four requirements or factors that need to be at work: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What are the 3 types of Modelling? ›

What are the 3 types of fashion models? Editorial, Catalog and Runway are three kinds of models in the high fashion industry.

What are the 3 types of modeling in psychology? ›

Bandura identified three kinds of models: live, verbal, and symbolic. A live model demonstrates a behavior in person, as when Ben stood up on his surfboard so that Julian could see how he did it.

What is an example of behavior modeling? ›

For example, if a store determines that consumers that purchase shampoo will also purchase soap if provided a coupon, the store may provide a coupon for soap at a point-of-sale terminal to a consumer who only purchases shampoo.

Why is it important to study the user behavior model? ›

By monitoring user behavior, you can tailor messages and experiences to the right audience at the right moment. As a result, your conversions will increase, as will many other aspects of your website's performance. User behavior analytics allows you to discover the specific activity patterns of your website users.

What is the importance of user model? ›

User Modeling is a more technical approach to defining one's target audience and adapting the systems to the audience's specific needs. It is the subdivision of human-computer interaction that is used to create an understanding of a user.

What are the different types of user Behaviour models? ›

The types of user behavior are defined by the goals of the website visitor. Depending on the case, these may, of course, vary but they, generally, fall into three major categories – targeted, purposive, and explorative browsing behavior.

What is user Give example? ›

A user is someone who employs or uses a particular thing, like a user of nicotine or a user of an internet site. Since you are reading this, you are a user of Vocabulary.com. Congrats! To use something is to employ it or operate it, so a user is someone who uses or takes advantage of something.

What is users in simple words? ›

A user is a person or thing that uses something such as a place, facility, product, or machine.

What is an example of social Modelling? ›

Examples of the social model in action

You are a disabled person who can't use stairs and wants to get into a building with a step at the entrance. The social model recognises that this is a problem with the building, not the person, and would suggest adding a ramp to the entrance.

What is social learning theory examples? ›

Social learning theory examples in everyday life are common, with one of the most evident being the behaviors of children, as they imitate family members, friends, famous figures and even television characters. If a child perceives there is a meaningful reward for such behavior, they will perform it at some point.

What are the 4 types of modeling? ›

9 types of modelling explained
  • Runway models. A runway model works most commonly on the catwalk, which is the runway at fashion shows where designers showcase their work, such as a new clothing line. ...
  • Fashion/editorial models. ...
  • Commercial models. ...
  • Photographers. ...
  • Textile designers.
Nov 30, 2021

What are examples of modelling? ›

Modeling means learning by copying the behavior of someone else. Humans naturally model each other – for example, children use modeling to learn how to use utensils or tie their shoes. The definition of modeling in psychology means purposely changing a behavior in order to improve your mindset and achieve your goals.

What are the methods of modelling? ›

These methods are regression analysis, network analysis, and computer simulation. Case studies are provided as examples of these approaches.

What are the 4 basic components of behaviour modelling? ›

The review emphasizes research on behavior modeling training and research on conflict and conflict management training. The four components of behavior modeling (modeling, role-playing, social reinforcement, and transfer of training) have been the focus of numerous research efforts.

What is an example of modeling learning? ›

What is Modelling Learning? Modelling is the process of learning by copying others' behaviour. It is also called Observational Learning. Humans model one another naturally – for example, kids use modelling to learn how to tie their shoes or use utensils.

What are the three states of social learning theory modeling? ›

Stages of the Theory: A Diagram
  • Observation. We observe other people's behavior.
  • Imitation. Following observation, we assimilate and imitate the observed behavior.
  • Modeling. We are more likely to imitate behavior modeled by people we perceive as similar to ourselves.
May 17, 2021

What is an example of behavioral learning theory? ›

A common example of behaviorism is positive reinforcement. A student gets a small treat if they get 100% on their spelling test. In the future, students work hard and study for their test in order to get the reward.

What is behavioral modeling in teaching example? ›

In behavior modeling, an individual can learn new behaviors by observing. The correct behavior is demonstrated for the learner, the learner observes the model, and then imitates the behavior of the model [1].

What are examples of learning behaviors? ›

A learned behavior is something that you are taught or have learned to do. We do learn somethings from our parents but other things such as skateboarding we might learn by ourselves. Some examples are, playing an instrument, playing sports, style, cooking.

Why is it important to consider user needs behaviors and motivations? ›

It allows you to address customers' needs and expectations, solve their problems. Your product may be very useful for them but they need to try it. Great understanding of users helps to handle challenges much better.

What are the advantages of behavioral modeling? ›

BMT is valuable because it has positive effects on various learning outcomes, including attitudes (e.g., self-efficacy), knowledge, skills, and job behavior (Taylor et al., 2005). The impact on knowledge and skills is large, whereas the effects on attitudes and job behavior are modest (Taylor et al., 2005).

What is the importance of user studies? ›

User studies are help us understand the users' needs, which are often hidden and the users themselves are not aware of. These studies are scientific explorative methods and are different from the user tests which are more evaluative methods.

What is the importance of users? ›

Users are the reason you have a product in the first place. If a restaurant didn't have diners or a sports arena didn't have fans, they would go out of business.

What is the benefit of user management? ›

User management not only establishes a user's authorization to access secure resources, it also serves as a repository of identities and, if done efficiently, can be the source of all identities for an organization.

What are the two types of behavioral learning theory? ›

3 types of behavioural learning
  • Classical conditioning. ...
  • Operant conditioning. ...
  • Observational learning. ...
  • The satisfaction level of individual employees. ...
  • The timing of the reinforcement. ...
  • The size of the reward.
May 12, 2022

What are the two types of behavioral theory? ›

There are two main types of behaviorism: methodological behaviorism, which was heavily influenced by John B. Watson's work, and radical behaviorism, which was pioneered by psychologist B.F. Skinner.

What are two types of behavioral model? ›

There are two types of behavioral models that are used to describe the system behavior, one is data processing model and another is state machine models. Data processing models are also known as DFD (Data Flow Diagram) which is used to show how data is processed as it moves through the system.

What are good examples of user needs? ›

Good user needs should:
  • sound like something a real user might say.
  • be based on evidence from user research, not assumptions.
  • focus on the user's problem rather than possible solutions (for example, needing a reminder rather than needing an email or letter)
Mar 23, 2017

What is another word for user? ›

synonyms for user
  • buyer.
  • customer.
  • purchaser.
  • shopper.
  • enjoyer.
  • end user.

What is an example of user management? ›

For example, by defining a group with all the employees in a specific department, administrators can define permissions for the entire department in one place. Most applications and IT systems have a special administrator group that allows its members to modify system configuration and grant permission to other users.

What are the types of users? ›

Four basic types of Users. (and how to identify them)
  • Socializers:
  • Achievers:
  • Explorers:
  • Players:
Feb 23, 2021

What is an example of user group? ›

User groups are a collection of users who perform a similar task. For example, a group of customer service representatives might be put in a Customer Service Representative user group. Users can belong to multiple user groups to which permissions are assigned.

What are the characteristics of users? ›

Relevant characteristics include: age range, gender, culture, education, intelligence, language, physical attributes, frequency of use, discretion to use, experience of system, general IT experience or training.

What are the characteristics of social learning theory model? ›

Social learning theory has four elements, each of which can be applied in our organizations to improve learning and performance without the need for new technologies. Or can it? These four elements are observational learning, reciprocal determinism, self-regulation, and self-efficacy.

What is social system model explain in short the examples of social system model? ›

It is the formal structure of role and status that can form in a small, stable group. An individual may belong to multiple social systems at once; examples of social systems include nuclear family units, communities, cities, nations, college campuses, corporations, and industries.

What is social learning theory summary? ›

Social learning theory proposes that individuals learn by observing the behaviors of others (models). They then evaluate the effect of those behaviors by observing the positive and negative consequences that follow.

What are the 4 stages of social learning theory? ›

Bandura's theory of social learning

Bandura proposed that this type of learning involved four different stages – attention, retention, reproduction and motivation.

What is the main of social learning theory? ›

The basis behind social learning theory is that people observe the behavior, attitudes and consequences of others and then use that information to form their own actions.

How many types of learning models are there? ›

What are the four learning styles? The four core learning styles in the VARK model include visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.

How many types of Modelling are there? ›

16 Different Types of Modeling. The world of modeling doesn't stop at the end of the runway. Between fashion modeling and commercial modeling, there are jobs and career paths available for all shapes, sizes, and niches.

What are the basic types of models? ›

There are four basic types of models: iconic, graphical, analog , and mathematical.

What is modeling in Bandura social learning theory? ›

According to Bandura, learning can occur by watching others and then modeling what they do or say. This is known as observational learning. There are specific steps in the process of modeling that must be followed if learning is to be successful. These steps include attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What is modeling in learning? ›

What is the "Modeling" instructional strategy? With "Modeling", the teacher engages students by showing them how to perform a skill while describing each step with a rationale. This provides students with both a visual and verbal example of what they will be expected to do.

What is an example of modeling? ›

Modeling means learning by copying the behavior of someone else. Humans naturally model each other – for example, children use modeling to learn how to use utensils or tie their shoes. The definition of modeling in psychology means purposely changing a behavior in order to improve your mindset and achieve your goals.

What is an example of modelling theory? ›

For example, a child observes racist behavior from a parent and models it. Even though the parent may never express any belief or attitudes about the prejudice, the child will acquire their own behavior-consistent cognitions to support the modeled behavior.

What is modeling according to social learning theory quizlet? ›

Children learn to behave morally largely through modeling--by observing an imitating people who demonstrate appropriate behavior.

What are the four steps in Bandura's modeling process? ›

Observational learning is a major component of Bandura's social learning theory. He also emphasized that four conditions were necessary in any form of observing and modeling behavior: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.


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