CEM: Commonsense-Aware Empathetic Response Generation


  • Sahand Sabour Tsinghua University
  • Chujie Zheng Tsinghua University
  • Minlie Huang Tsinghua University




Speech & Natural Language Processing (SNLP)


A key trait of daily conversations between individuals is the ability to express empathy towards others, and exploring ways to implement empathy is a crucial step towards human-like dialogue systems. Previous approaches on this topic mainly focus on detecting and utilizing the user’s emotion for generating empathetic responses. However, since empathy includes both aspects of affection and cognition, we argue that in addition to identifying the user’s emotion, cognitive understanding of the user’s situation should also be considered. To this end, we propose a novel approach for empathetic response generation, which leverages commonsense to draw more information about the user’s situation and uses this additional information to further enhance the empathy expression in generated responses. We evaluate our approach on EMPATHETICDIALOGUES, which is a widely-used benchmark dataset for empathetic response generation. Empirical results demonstrate that our approach outperforms the baseline models in both automatic and human evaluations and can generate more informative and empathetic responses. Our code is available at https://github.com/Sahandfer/CEM.




How to Cite

Sabour, S., Zheng, C., & Huang, M. (2022). CEM: Commonsense-Aware Empathetic Response Generation. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 36(10), 11229-11237. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v36i10.21373



AAAI Technical Track on Speech and Natural Language Processing