Contrastive explanations, where one decision is explained *in contrast to another*, are supposed to be closer to how humans explain a decision than non-contrastive explanations, where the decision is not necessarily referenced to an alternative. This claim has never been empirically validated. We analyze four English text-classification datasets (SST2, DynaSent, BIOS and DBpedia-Animals). We fine-tune and extract explanations from three different models (RoBERTa, GTP-2, and T5), each in three different sizes and apply three post-hoc explainability methods (LRP, GradientxInput, GradNorm). We furthermore collect and release human rationale annotations for a subset of 100 samples from the BIOS dataset for contrastive and non-contrastive settings. A cross-comparison between model-based rationales and human annotations, both in contrastive and non-contrastive settings, yields a high agreement between the two settings for models as well as for humans. Moreover, model-based explanations computed in both settings align equally well with human rationales. Thus, we empirically find that humans do not necessarily explain in a contrastive manner.
Learned self-attention functions in state-of-the-art NLP models often correlate with human attention. We investigate whether self-attention in large-scale pre-trained language models is as predictive of human eye fixation patterns during task-reading as classical cognitive models of human attention. We compare attention functions across two task-specific reading datasets for sentiment analysis and relation extraction. We find the predictiveness of large-scale pre-trained self-attention for human attention depends on ‘what is in the tail’, e.g., the syntactic nature of rare contexts. Further, we observe that task-specific fine-tuning does not increase the correlation with human task-specific reading. Through an input reduction experiment we give complementary insights on the sparsity and fidelity trade-off, showing that lower-entropy attention vectors are more faithful.