First Experimental Setting – Protocol

PROTOCOL – First experimental setting (November 2014)
General goal of the first set of experiments: Feasibility study of the annotation of a corpus of natural language arguments with emotions.
EXPERIMENT #1 (Associating arguments to workload/engagement emotional states detected by an EEG headset and facial emotions detected by a Face Emotion Recognition tool)
Starting from an issue to be discussed provided by the animators, the aim of the experiment is to collect the arguments proposed by the participants and to associate such arguments to the workload/engagement emotional states and to the facial emotions of the participants. During a post-processing phase on the collected data, we will synchronize the arguments put forward at instant t with the emotional indexes we retrieved. We will build the resulting argumentation graph for each discussion addressed by the discussion groups. These argumentation graphs will connect arguments to each others by a support or an attack relation. Finally, argumentation graphs will be labelled with the source who has proposed the argument, and the emotional state of the source itself and of the other participants at the time of the introduction of the argument in the discussion.
  • Argument: an argument is the piece of text that is proposed by the participants of the debate. Typically, arguments have the goal to promote the opinion of the debater in the debate.
  • Opinion: it is the overall opinion of the debater about the issue to be debated, i.e., “Ban animal testing”. The opinion is promoted in the debate through arguments, that will support or attack the arguments proposed in the debate by the other participants (if the opinions converge then there will be a support, if the opinions diverge then there will be an attack).
Topics of discussion:
Source of the issues to be debated:
  • Participant: he is expected to provide his own opinion about the issue of the debate proposed by the animators, and to argue with the other participants in order to convince them (in case of initial disagreement) about the goodness of his viewpoint.
  • Animator: he is expected to propose to the participants of the debate the initial issue to be discussed. In case of lack of active argumentation among the participants, the animator will propose pro and con arguments (with respect to the main issue) to reactivate the discussion. These pro/con arguments are selected from a fixed set of arguments extracted from the iDebate platform.
Involved people and location:
  • Participants: 4 participants for each discussion group (each participant will be placed far from the other participants, two participants will be in a room and two others in another one).
  • Animators: 1 animator for each discussion group (the animator will be placed in a room alone too). The moderator will interact with the participants through the debate platform.
Debate platform
The debate platform is available at (IRC network). It is sufficient to connect to that webpage, select the nickname (participant1, participant2, etc), select channel #seempadDebate1.
If a user interface is preferred, we suggest to use Pidgin ( ). Instructions to use Pidgin on the network Freenode:
Devices for participants:
  • 1 laptop or 1 desktop device equipped with internet access and camera to detect facial emotions.
  • 1 EEG headset (associated to engagement/workload indexes detection system).
Devices for animatiors: 
  • 1 laptop or 1 desktop device equipped with internet access
  • Phase 1:  Familiarization of the participants with the debate platform;
  • Phase 2: Debate – participants will be submitted to two debates for a maximum of 30 minutes
  • The animator provides the debaters with the topic to be discussed;
  • The animator asks each participant to provide a general statement about his/her opinion concerning the topic;
  • Each participant expose his/her opinion to the others;
  • Participants are asked to comment on the expressed opinions;
  • If needed (no debate among the participants), the animator posts an argument to be commented;
  • Phase 3: Debriefing
  • Each participant is asked to complete a short questionnaire about his experience in the debate
  • What was your starting opinion about the discussed topic before entering into the debate?
  • What is your final opinion about the discussed topic after the debate?
  • If so, why did you change your mind (i.e., which was the argument(s) that has made you change your mind)?
Duration of a debate: about 15 minutes.
Measured variables:
  • engagement (measurement tool: EEG headset)
  • workload (measurement tool: EEG headset)
  • positive/negative attitude with respect to the issue of the debate (technique: argumentation)
  • positive/negative attitude with respect to a particular argument proposed in the discussion (technique: argumentation)
  • positive/negative attitude with respect to a particular participant of the discussion (technique: argumentation)
  • emotions: (Neutral, Happy, Sad, Angry, Surprised, Scared and Disgusted) (measurement tool: FaceReader software Emotion Recognition from facial expression)
Post-processing phase:
  1. Synchronize the argumentation (i.e., the arguments proposed at time t) with the emotional indexes retrieved using the EEG headset and the Facial Emotion Recognition.
  1. Build the argumentation graph detecting support and attack relations among the arguments proposed in each discussion (using methodology defined in [Cabrio&Villata, Argument&Computation 2013]);
  1. Associate each argument to the participant who proposed it in the discussion;
  1. Build a data set of argumentation graphs labelled with the emotional indexes of the participants (each argument is associated to the indexes of the four participants of the debate);
  1. Compute the “winning” opinions in each debate.