Providing arguments in discussions on the basis of the prediction of human argumentative behavior

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Argumentative discussion is a highly demanding task. In order to help people in such discussions, this article provides an innovative methodology for developing agents that can support people in argumentative discussions by proposing possible arguments. By gathering and analyzing human argumentative behavior from more than 1000 human study participants, we show that the prediction of human argumentative behavior using Machine Learning (ML) is possible and useful in designing argument provision agents. This paper first demonstrates that ML techniques can achieve up to 76% accuracy when predicting people's top three argument choices given a partial discussion. We further show that well-established Argumentation Theory is not a good predictor of people's choice of arguments. Then, we present 9 argument provision agents, which we empirically evaluate using hundreds of human study participants. We show that the Predictive and Relevance-Based Heuristic agent (PRH), which uses ML prediction with a heuristic that estimates the relevance of possible arguments to the current state of the discussion, results in significantly higher levels of satisfaction among study participants compared with the other evaluated agents. These other agents propose arguments based on Argumentation Theory; propose predicted arguments without the heuristics or with only the heuristics; or use Transfer Learning methods. Our findings also show that people use the PRH agents proposed arguments significantly more often than those proposed by the other agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016

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© 2016 ACM.


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