When reading stories, people can naturally identify sentences in which a new event starts, i.e., event boundaries, using their knowledge of how events typically unfold, but a computational model to detect event boundaries is not yet available. We characterize and detect sentences with expected or surprising event boundaries in an annotated corpus of short diary-like stories, using a model that combines commonsense knowledge and narrative flow features with a RoBERTa classifier. Our results show that, while commonsense and narrative features can help improve performance overall, detecting event boundaries that are more subjective remains challenging for our model. We also find that sentences marking surprising event boundaries are less likely to be causally related to the preceding sentence, but are more likely to express emotional reactions of story characters, compared to sentences with no event boundary.
Transformer-based models have shown promising performance in numerous NLP tasks. However, recent work has shown the limitation of such models in showing compositional generalization, which requires models to generalize to novel compositions of known concepts. In this work, we explore two strategies for compositional generalization on the task of kinship prediction from stories, (1) data augmentation and (2) predicting and using intermediate structured representation (in form of kinship graphs). Our experiments show that data augmentation boosts generalization performance by around 20% on average relative to a baseline model from prior work not using these strategies. However, predicting and using intermediate kinship graphs leads to a deterioration in the generalization of kinship prediction by around 50% on average relative to models that only leverage data augmentation.
Internet forums such as Reddit offer people a platform to ask for advice when they encounter various issues at work, school or in relationships. Telling helpful comments apart from unhelpful comments to these advice-seeking posts can help people and dialogue agents to become more helpful in offering advice. We propose a dataset that contains both helpful and unhelpful comments in response to such requests. We then relate helpfulness to the closely related construct of empathy. Finally, we analyze the language features that are associated with helpful and unhelpful comments.
We experiment with adapting generative language models for the generation of long coherent narratives in the form of theatre plays. Since fully automatic generation of whole plays is not currently feasible, we created an interactive tool that allows a human user to steer the generation somewhat while minimizing intervention. We pursue two approaches to long-text generation: a flat generation with summarization of context, and a hierarchical text-to-text two-stage approach, where a synopsis is generated first and then used to condition generation of the final script. Our preliminary results and discussions with theatre professionals show improvements over vanilla language model generation, but also identify important limitations of our approach.
Decision making theories such as Fuzzy-Trace Theory (FTT) suggest that individuals tend to rely on gist, or bottom-line meaning, in the text when making decisions. In this work, we delineate the process of developing GisPy, an opensource tool in Python for measuring the Gist Inference Score (GIS) in text. Evaluation of GisPy on documents in three benchmarks from the news and scientific text domains demonstrates that scores generated by our tool significantly distinguish low vs. high gist documents. Our tool is publicly available to use at: https: //github.com/phosseini/GisPy.
This paper shows how to use large-scale pretrained language models to extract character roles from narrative texts without domain-specific training data. Queried with a zero-shot question-answering prompt, GPT-3 can identify the hero, villain, and victim in diverse domains: newspaper articles, movie plot summaries, and political speeches.
Narratives have been shown to be an effective way to communicate health risks and promote health behavior change, and given the growing amount of health information being shared on social media, it is crucial to study health-related narratives in social media. However, expert identification of a large number of narrative texts is a time consuming process, and larger scale studies on the use of narratives may be enabled through automatic text classification approaches. Prior work has demonstrated that automatic narrative detection is possible, but modern deep learning approaches have not been used for this task in the domain of online health communities. Therefore, in this paper, we explore the use of deep learning methods to automatically classify the presence of narratives in social media posts, finding that they outperform previously proposed approaches. We also find that in many cases, these models generalize well across posts from different health organizations. Finally, in order to better understand the increase in performance achieved by deep learning models, we use feature analysis techniques to explore the features that most contribute to narrative detection for posts in online health communities.
Story characters not only perform actions, they typically also perceive, feel, think, and communicate. Here we are interested in how children render characters’ perspectives when freely telling a fantasy story. Drawing on a sample of 150 narratives elicited from Dutch children aged 4-12, we provide an inventory of 750 instances of character-perspective representation (CPR), distinguishing fourteen different types. Firstly, we observe that character perspectives are ubiquitous in freely told children’s stories and take more varied forms than traditional frameworks can accommodate. Secondly, we discuss variation in the use of different types of CPR across age groups, finding that character perspectives are being fleshed out in more advanced and diverse ways as children grow older. Thirdly, we explore whether such variation can be meaningfully linked to automatically extracted linguistic features, thereby probing the potential for using automated tools from NLP to extract and classify character perspectives in children’s stories.