Predicting music relistening behavior using the ACT-R framework

Markus Reiter-Haas, Emilia Parada-Cabaleiro, Markus Schedl, Elham Motamedi, Marko Tkalcic, Elisabeth Lex

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Providing suitable recommendations is of vital importance to improve the user satisfaction of music recommender systems. Here, users often listen to the same track repeatedly and appreciate recommendations of the same song multiple times. Thus, accounting for users' relistening behavior is critical for music recommender systems. In this paper, we describe a psychology-informed approach to model and predict music relistening behavior that is inspired by studies in music psychology, which relate music preferences to human memory. We adopt a well-established psychological theory of human cognition that models the operations of human memory, i.e., Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational (ACT-R). In contrast to prior work, which uses only the base-level component of ACT-R, we utilize five components of ACT-R, i.e., base-level, spreading, partial matching, valuation, and noise, to investigate the effect of five factors on music relistening behavior: (i) recency and frequency of prior exposure to tracks, (ii) co-occurrence of tracks, (iii) the similarity between tracks, (iv) familiarity with tracks, and (v) randomness in behavior. On a dataset of 1.7 million listening events from, we evaluate the performance of our approach by sequentially predicting the next track(s) in user sessions. We find that recency and frequency of prior exposure to tracks is an effective predictor of relistening behavior. Besides, considering the co-occurrence of tracks and familiarity with tracks further improves performance in terms of R-precision. We hope that our work inspires future research on the merits of considering cognitive aspects of memory retrieval to model and predict complex user behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecSys 2021 - 15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
PublisherAssociation of Computing Machinery
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781450384582
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2021
Event15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems: RECSYS 2021 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 27 Sept 20211 Oct 2021


Conference15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
Abbreviated titleRECSYS 2021


  • Adaptive control thought-rational (ACT-R)
  • Cognition-inspired retrieval
  • Human cognition
  • Music prediction
  • Psychology-informed recommender systems
  • Relistening behavior
  • User modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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