Noe Kong-Johnson


Context Effects on Human Judgments of Similarity
Libby Barak | Noe Kong-Johnson | Adele Goldberg
Proceedings of the 2019 Workshop on Widening NLP

The semantic similarity of words forms the basis of many natural language processing methods. These computational similarity measures are often based on a mathematical comparison of vector representations of word meanings, while human judgments of similarity differ in lacking geometrical properties, e.g., symmetric similarity and triangular similarity. In this study, we propose a novel task design to further explore human behavior by asking whether a pair of words is deemed more similar depending on an immediately preceding judgment. Results from a crowdsourcing experiment show that people consistently judge words as more similar when primed by a judgment that evokes a relevant relationship. Our analysis further shows that word2vec similarity correlated significantly better with the out-of-context judgments, thus confirming the methodological differences in human-computer judgments, and offering a new testbed for probing the differences.