Towards Understanding Persuasion in Computational Argumentation

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Opinion formation and persuasion in argumentation have been shown to be affected by three major factors: the argument itself, the source of the argument, and the properties of the audience. Understanding the role of each and the interplay between them is crucial for obtaining insights regarding argument interpretation and argument generation. This is particularly important for building effective argument generation systems that can take both the discourse and the audience characteristics into account. Having such personalized argument generation systems would potentially be helpful to show individuals different viewpoints and help them make a more fair and informed decision on an issue. Even though studies in Social Sciences and Psychology have shown that source and audience effects are essential components of the persuasion process, most research in computational persuasion has focused solely on understanding the characteristics of persuasive language. In this thesis, we make several contributions to understand the relative effect of the source, audience, and language in computational persuasion. We first introduce a large-scale dataset with extensive user information to study these factors' effects simultaneously. Then, we propose models to understand the role of prior beliefs of the audience on their perception of persuasive arguments. We also investigate the role of social interactions and engagement in understanding users' success in online debating over time. We find that the users' prior beliefs and social interactions play an essential role in predicting their success in persuasion. Finally, we explore the importance of incorporating contextual information to predict argument impact and show improvements compared to encoding only the text of the arguments.

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127 pages


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argument mining; computational argumentation; computational persuasion; computer science; natural language processing; persuasion


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Union Local


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Committee Chair

Cardie, Claire T.

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Committee Member

Hopcroft, John E.
Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Cristian

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Computer Science

Degree Name

Ph. D., Computer Science

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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