ChangeMyView Through Concessions: Do Concessions Increase Persuasion?

Elena Musi, Debanjan Ghosh, Smaranda Muresan


In Discourse Studies concessions are considered among those argumentative strategies that increase persuasion. We aim to empirically test this hypothesis by calculating the distribution of argumentative concessions in persuasive vs. non-persuasive comments from the the ChangeMyView subreddit. This constitutes a challenging task since concessions do not always bear an argumentative role and are expressed through polysemous lexical markers. Drawing from a theoretically-informed typology of concessions, we first conduct a crowdsourcing task to label a set of polysemous lexical markers as introducing an argumentative concession relation or not. Second, we present a selftraining method to automatically identify argumentative concessions using linguistically motivated features. While we achieve a moderate F1 of 57.4% via the self-training method, our subsequent error analysis highlights that the self training method is able to generalize and identify other types of concessions that are argumentative, but were not considered in the annotation guidelines. Our findings from the manual labeling and the classification experiments indicate that the type of argumentative concessions we investigated is almost equally likely to be used in winning and losing arguments. While this result seems to contradict theoretical assumptions, we provide some reasons related to the ChangeMyView subreddit.

Full Text:


www.dialogue-and-discourse.orgISSN: 2152-9620   Journal doi: 10.5087/dad