Multilingual Persuasion Technique Classifier

This multilingual multi-label classifier is capable of identifying 23 persuasion techniques in 104 languages, but it will perform the best on the six languages for which it was trained on: English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Russian.

This is a whole document classifier, which identifies which of the persuasion techniques are used anywhere within the input document - an alternative service is available which is able to detect which parts of the document use which techniques.

It was developed as part of the project and is based on our submission to the SemEval 2023 Task 3, where it performed the best on English data.

In addition to the overall classification, the classifier is able to indicate which sentences in the document (within the 512 words used) it considered to be the most important when making its decision. To request this information, enable the :Important_Sentence annotation type.

The classifier recognises 23 pesuasion techniques that can be grouped into 6 broader groups:

Category Description Techniques
Justification an argument made of two parts: a statement and a justification Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Popularity, Appeal to values, Appeal to fear/prejudice, Flag Waving
Simplification a statement is made that excessively simplify a problem, usually regarding the cause, the consequence or the existence of choices Causal oversimplification, False dilemma or no choice, Consequential oversimplification
Distraction a statement is made that changes the focus away from the main topic or argument Straw man, Red herring, Whataboutism
Call the text is not an argument but an encouragement to act or think in a particular way Slogans, Appeal to time, Conversation killer
Manipulative wording specific language is used or a statement is made that is not an argument and which contains words/phrases that are either non-neutral, confusing, exaggerating, etc., in order to impact the reader, for instance emotionally Loaded language, Repetition, Exaggeration or minimisation, Obfuscation - vagueness or confusion
Attack on reputation an argument whose object is not the topic of the conversation, but the personality of a participant, his experience and deeds, typically in order to question and/or undermine his credibility Name calling or labeling, Doubt, Guilt by association, Appeal to Hypocrisy, Questioning the reputation

The maximum input document length is roughly 256 words. This means that any text following the first 256 words will be ignored by the classifier.

Default annotations
Each persuasion annotation has a score that represents the probability assigned to the label by the classifier.
Persuasion Technique Definition
Appeal_to_Authority This technique gives weight to a claim or thesis by simply stating that a particular entity considered as an authority, e.g., a person or an organisation, is the source of the information. The entity mentioned as an authority may, but does not need to be an actual valid authority in the domain-specific field to discuss a particular topic or to be considered and serve as an expert. What is important, and makes it different than simply sourcing an information, is that the tone of the text indicates that it capitalises on the weight of an alleged authority in order to justify some information, claim, or conclusion. Reference to a valid authority is not a logical fallacy, a reference to an invalid authority is, and both are captured within this label. In particular, a self-reference as an authority falls under Appeal to Authority too.
Appeal_to_Fear-Prejudice This technique aims to promote or reject an idea through the repulsion or fear of the audience towards this idea (e.g., by exploiting some preconceived judgements) or towards its alternative. The alternative could be the status quo, in which case the current situation is described in a scary way with Loaded Language. If the fear is linked with the consequences of a decision, it is often the case that this technique is used together with Consequential Oversimplification, and if there are only two alternatives and they are stated explicitly, then it is used together with the False Dilemma technique.
Appeal_to_Hypocrisy The target of the technique is attacked on their reputation by charging them with hypocrisy or inconsistency. This can be done explicitly by calling out hypocrisy directly, or more implicitly by underlining the contradictions between different positions that were held or actions that were done in the past. A special way of calling out hypocrisy is by stating that someone who criticizes you for something you did, also did it in the past, hence the name of this technique (which means 'also you' in Latin).
Appeal_to_Popularity This technique gives weight to an argument or an idea by justifying it on the basis that allegedly 'everybody' (or the large majority) agrees with it or 'nobody' disagrees with it. As such, the target audience is encouraged to adopt the same idea by considering 'everyone else' as an authority, and to join in and take the same course of action. Here, 'everyone else' might refer to the general public, key entities and actors in a certain domain, countries, etc. Analogously, an attempt to persuade the audience not to do something because 'nobody else is taking the same action' falls under our definition of appeal to popularity.
Appeal_to_Time The argument is centred around the idea that time has come for a particular action. The very timeliness of the idea is part of the argument. The call to “Act Now!” is an example of Appeal to Time.
Appeal_to_Values This technique gives weight to an idea by linking it to values seen by the target audience as positive. These values are presented as an authoritative reference to support or reject an argument. Examples of such values include tradition, religion, ethics, age, fairness, liberty, democracy, peace, transparency, etc. When these values are mentioned outside the context of a proper argument using certain adjectives or nouns to characterize something or someone, they fall under another label, Loaded Language, which is a form of Manipulative Wording.
Causal_Oversimplification Assuming a single cause or reason when there are actually multiple causes for an issue. This technique has the following logical form(s): Y occurred after X, therefore, X was the only cause of Y; X caused Y, therefore, X was the only cause of Y (although A,B,C...etc. also contributed to Y.)
Consequential_Oversimplification An argument/idea is rejected and instead of discussing whether it makes sense and/or is valid, the argument affirms, without proof, that accepting the proposition would imply accepting other propositions that are considered negative.
Conversation_Killer Words or phrases that discourage critical thought and meaningful discussion about a given topic are considered as Conversetional killers. They are a form of loaded language, often passing as folk wisdom, intended to end an argument and quell cognitive dissonance.
Doubt Casting doubt on the character or the personal attributes of someone or something in order to question their general credibility or quality, instead of using a proper argument related to the topic. This can be done for instance, by speaking about the target’s professional background, as a way to discredit their argument. Casting doubt can also be done by referring to some actions or events carried out or planned by some entity that are/were not successful or appear as (probably) resulting in a failure to achieve the planned goals.
Exaggeration-Minimisation This fallacy consists of either representing something in an excessive manner - making things larger, better, worse (e.g., ‘the best of the best’, ‘quality guaranteed’) - or making something seem less important or smaller than it really is (e.g., saying that an insult was just a joke), downplaying statements and ignoring arguments and accusations made by an opponent.
False_Dilemma-No_Choice Sometimes called the “either-or” fallacy, a false dilemma is a logical fallacy that presents only two options or sides when there are many options or sides. In extreme cases, the authors tells the audience exactly what actions to take, eliminating any other possible choices (hence the label Dictatorship).
Flag_Waving Justifying or promoting an idea by extolling the pride of a group or highlighting the benefits for that specific group is a persuasive technique known as "Flag-Waving." This technique can be applied to any group, such as those related to race, gender, political preference, etc., although the stereotypical example is national pride. The connection to nationalism, patriotism, or benefit for an idea, group, or country may be unfounded and is often based on preexisting beliefs, biases, and prejudices held by the recipients. It appeals to emotions rather than logic, aiming to manipulate the audience and win an argument. This technique can also be used outside the context of a well-constructed argument by simply resonating with the feelings of a particular group and setting up a context for further arguments.
Guilt_by_Association Attacking the opponent or an activity by associating it with another group, activity, or concept that has sharp negative connotations for the target audience is known as "Guilt by Association." This technique involves making comparisons or claiming a link between the target and any individual, group, or event that has an unquestionably negative perception. While the most common example is comparing to Hitler and the Nazi regime, this technique is not limited to that specific comparison. It aims to leverage the negative perception of the associated entity to discredit or undermine the target.
Loaded_Language This fallacy uses specific words and phrases with strong emotional implications (either positive or negative) to influence and to convince the audience that an argument is valid/true. It is also known as appeal to/argument from emotive language.
Name_Calling-Labeling A form of argument in which loaded labels are directed at an individual or a group, typically in an insulting or demeaning way, or as either something the target audience fears, hates, or on the contrary finds desirable or loves. This technique calls for a qualitative judgement that disregards facts and focuses solely on the essence of the subject being characterized. It is in a way also a manipulative wording, as it is used at the level of the nominal group rather than being a full-fledged argument with premise and conclusion. For example, in the political discourse, typically one is using adjectives and nouns as labels that refer to political orientation, opinions, personal characteristics, and association with some organizations, as well as insults. What distinguishes it from the Loaded Language technique, is that it is only concerned with the characterization of the subject.
Obfuscation-Vagueness-Confusion This fallacy uses words that are deliberately not clear so that the audience may have its own interpretations. For example, an unclear phrase with multiple or unclear definitions is used within the argument and, therefore, does not support the conclusion. Statements that are imprecise and intentionally do not fully or vaguely answer the question posed fall under this category too.
Questioning_the_Reputation This technique is used to attack the reputation of the target by making strong negative claims about it, focusing in particular on undermining its character and moral stature rather than relying on an argument about the topic. Whether the claims are true or false is irrelevant for the effective use of this technique. Smears can be used at any point in a discussion. One particular way of using this technique is to preemptively call into question the reputation/credibility of an opponent, before he had any chance to express himself, therefore biasing the audience perception - hence one of the names of this technique is Poisoning the well. The main difference between the Casting Doubt and Questioning the Reputation technique is that the former focuses on questioning the capacity, capabilities and credibility, while the latter attempts to undermine the overall reputation, moral qualities, behavior, etc.
Red_Herring This technique consists in diverting the attention of the audience from the main topic being discussed by introducing another topic. The aim of attempting to redirect the argument to another issue is to focus on something the person doing the redirecting can better respond to or to leave the original topic unaddressed. The name of that technique comes from the idea that a fish with a strong smell (like a herring) can be used to divert dogs from the scent of a prey they are following. A strawman (defined earlier) is also a specific type of a red herring in the way that it distracts from the main issue by painting the opponent's argument in an inaccurate light.
Repetition The speaker uses the same word, phrase, story, or imagery repeatedly with the hopes that the repetition will lead to persuading the audience.
Slogans A brief and striking phrase that may include labeling and stereotyping. Slogans tend to act as emotional appeals.
Straw_Man This technique appears to refute the opposing argument, but the real subject of the opposing argument is not addressed, but is instead replaced with a false one. Often, this technique is referred to as misrepresentation of the argument. First, a new argument is created via the covert replacement of the original argument with something that appears somewhat related, but is actually a different, distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the original proposition, which is referred to as 'standing up a straw man'. Subsequently, the newly created 'false' argument (the strawman) is refuted, which is referred to as 'knocking down a straw man'. Often, the strawman argument is created in such a way that it is easier to refute, and thus, creating an illusion of having defeated an opponent's real proposition. Fighting a strawman is easier than fighting against a real person, which explains the origin of the name of this technique. In practice, it appears often as an abusive reformulation or explanation of what the opponent 'actually' means or wants.
Whataboutism A technique that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly disproving their argument. Instead of answering a critical question or argument, an attempt is made to retort with a critical counter-question which expresses a counter-accusation, e.g., mentioning double standards, etc. The intent is to distract from the content of a topic and actually switch the topic.
Additional annotations available if selected
:Important_Sentence Identifies the sentences in the document that were most influential to the classifier in making its decision.
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