Exploring the Role of Prior Beliefs for Argument Persuasion

Esin Durmus, Claire Cardie


Abstract
Public debate forums provide a common platform for exchanging opinions on a topic of interest. While recent studies in natural language processing (NLP) have provided empirical evidence that the language of the debaters and their patterns of interaction play a key role in changing the mind of a reader, research in psychology has shown that prior beliefs can affect our interpretation of an argument and could therefore constitute a competing alternative explanation for resistance to changing one’s stance. To study the actual effect of language use vs. prior beliefs on persuasion, we provide a new dataset and propose a controlled setting that takes into consideration two reader-level factors: political and religious ideology. We find that prior beliefs affected by these reader-level factors play a more important role than language use effects and argue that it is important to account for them in NLP studies of persuasion.
Anthology ID:
N18-1094
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)
Month:
June
Year:
2018
Address:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Venue:
NAACL
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
1035–1045
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/N18-1094
DOI:
10.18653/v1/N18-1094
Bib Export formats:
BibTeX MODS XML EndNote
PDF:
http://aclanthology.lst.uni-saarland.de/N18-1094.pdf
Video:
 http://vimeo.com/282323369