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Measuring Recommendation Explanation Quality: The Conflicting Goals of Explanations

Krisztian Balog
Filip Radlinski
Proceedings of the 43rd International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR '20) (2020)


Explanations have a large effect on how people respond to recommendations.  However, there are many possible intentions a system may have in generating explanations for a given recommendation - from increasing transparency, to enabling a faster decision, to persuading the recipient.  As a good explanation for one goal may not be good for others, we address the questions of (1) how to robustly measure if an explanation meets a given goal and (2) how the different goals interact with each other.  Specifically, this paper presents a first proposal of how to measure the quality of explanations along seven common goal dimensions catalogued in the literature.  We find that the seven goals are not independent, but rather exhibit strong structure.  Proposing two novel explanation evaluation designs, we identify challenges in evaluation, and provide more efficient measurement approaches of explanation quality.