Lucille Njoo


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TalkUp: Paving the Way for Understanding Empowering Language
Lucille Njoo | Chan Park | Octavia Stappart | Marvin Thielk | Yi Chu | Yulia Tsvetkov
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Empowering language is important in many real-world contexts, from education to workplace dynamics to healthcare. Though language technologies are growing more prevalent in these contexts, empowerment has seldom been studied in NLP, and moreover, it is inherently challenging to operationalize because of its implicit nature. This work builds from linguistic and social psychology literature to explore what characterizes empowering language. We then crowdsource a novel dataset of Reddit posts labeled for empowerment, reasons why these posts are empowering to readers, and the social relationships between posters and readers. Our preliminary analyses show that this dataset, which we call TalkUp, can be used to train language models that capture empowering and disempowering language. More broadly, TalkUp provides an avenue to explore implication, presuppositions, and how social context influences the meaning of language.

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Mitigating Societal Harms in Large Language Models
Sachin Kumar | Vidhisha Balachandran | Lucille Njoo | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Tutorial Abstracts

Numerous recent studies have highlighted societal harms that can be caused by language technologies deployed in the wild. While several surveys, tutorials, and workshops have discussed the risks of harms in specific contexts – e.g., detecting and mitigating gender bias in NLP models – no prior work has developed a unified typology of technical approaches for mitigating harms of language generation models. Our tutorial is based on a survey we recently wrote that proposes such a typology. We will provide an overview of potential social issues in language generation, including toxicity, social biases, misinformation, factual inconsistency, and privacy violations. Our primary focus will be on how to systematically identify risks, and how eliminate them at various stages of model development, from data collection, to model development, to inference/language generation. Through this tutorial, we aim to equip NLP researchers and engineers with a suite of practical tools for mitigating safety risks from pretrained language generation models.

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Language Generation Models Can Cause Harm: So What Can We Do About It? An Actionable Survey
Sachin Kumar | Vidhisha Balachandran | Lucille Njoo | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recent advances in the capacity of large language models to generate human-like text have resulted in their increased adoption in user-facing settings. In parallel, these improvements have prompted a heated discourse around the risks of societal harms they introduce, whether inadvertent or malicious. Several studies have explored these harms and called for their mitigation via development of safer, fairer models. Going beyond enumerating the risks of harms, this work provides a survey of practical methods for addressing potential threats and societal harms from language generation models. We draw on several prior works’ taxonomies of language model risks to present a structured overview of strategies for detecting and ameliorating different kinds of risks/harms of language generators. Bridging diverse strands of research, this survey aims to serve as a practical guide for both LM researchers and practitioners, with explanations of different strategies’ motivations, their limitations, and open problems for future research.


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Gendered Mental Health Stigma in Masked Language Models
Inna Lin | Lucille Njoo | Anjalie Field | Ashish Sharma | Katharina Reinecke | Tim Althoff | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Mental health stigma prevents many individuals from receiving the appropriate care, and social psychology studies have shown that mental health tends to be overlooked in men. In this work, we investigate gendered mental health stigma in masked language models. In doing so, we operationalize mental health stigma by developing a framework grounded in psychology research: we use clinical psychology literature to curate prompts, then evaluate the models’ propensity to generate gendered words. We find that masked language models capture societal stigma about gender in mental health: models are consistently more likely to predict female subjects than male in sentences about having a mental health condition (32% vs. 19%), and this disparity is exacerbated for sentences that indicate treatment-seeking behavior. Furthermore, we find that different models capture dimensions of stigma differently for men and women, associating stereotypes like anger, blame, and pity more with women with mental health conditions than with men. In showing the complex nuances of models’ gendered mental health stigma, we demonstrate that context and overlapping dimensions of identity are important considerations when assessing computational models’ social biases.