The combination of gestures, intonations, and textual content plays a key role in argument delivery. However, the current literature mostly considers textual content while assessing the quality of an argument, and it is limited to datasets containing short sequences (18-48 words). In this paper, we study argument quality assessment in a multimodal context, and experiment on DBATES, a publicly available dataset of long debate videos. First, we propose a set of interpretable debate centric features such as clarity, content variation, body movement cues, and pauses, inspired by theories of argumentation quality. Second, we design the Multimodal ARgument Quality assessor (MARQ) – a hierarchical neural network model that summarizes the multimodal signals on long sequences and enriches the multimodal embedding with debate centric features. Our proposed MARQ model achieves an accuracy of 81.91% on the argument quality prediction task and outperforms established baseline models with an error rate reduction of 22.7%. Through ablation studies, we demonstrate the importance of multimodal cues in modeling argument quality.
Recent Transformer-based contextual word representations, including BERT and XLNet, have shown state-of-the-art performance in multiple disciplines within NLP. Fine-tuning the trained contextual models on task-specific datasets has been the key to achieving superior performance downstream. While fine-tuning these pre-trained models is straightforward for lexical applications (applications with only language modality), it is not trivial for multimodal language (a growing area in NLP focused on modeling face-to-face communication). More specifically, this is due to the fact that pre-trained models don’t have the necessary components to accept two extra modalities of vision and acoustic. In this paper, we proposed an attachment to BERT and XLNet called Multimodal Adaptation Gate (MAG). MAG allows BERT and XLNet to accept multimodal nonverbal data during fine-tuning. It does so by generating a shift to internal representation of BERT and XLNet; a shift that is conditioned on the visual and acoustic modalities. In our experiments, we study the commonly used CMU-MOSI and CMU-MOSEI datasets for multimodal sentiment analysis. Fine-tuning MAG-BERT and MAG-XLNet significantly boosts the sentiment analysis performance over previous baselines as well as language-only fine-tuning of BERT and XLNet. On the CMU-MOSI dataset, MAG-XLNet achieves human-level multimodal sentiment analysis performance for the first time in the NLP community.