Predicting Individual Response to a Web-Based Positive Psychology Intervention: A Machine Learning Approach


Positive psychology interventions (PPIs) are effective at increasing happiness and decreasing depressive symptoms. PPIs are often administered as self-guided web-based interventions, but not all persons benefit from web-based interventions. Therefore, it is important to identify whether someone is likely to benefit from web-based PPIs, in order to triage persons who may not benefit from other interventions. In the current study, we used machine learning to predict individual response to a web-based PPI, in order to investigate baseline prognostic indicators of likelihood of response (N = 120). Our models demonstrated moderate correlations (happiness: rTest = 0.30 ± 0.09; depressive symptoms: rTest = 0.39 ± 0.06), indicating that baseline features can predict changes in happiness and depressive symptoms at a 6-month follow-up. Thus, machine learning can be used to predict outcome changes from a web-based PPI and has important clinical implications for matching individuals to PPIs based on their individual characteristics.

Journal of Positive Psychology