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Affection: Learning Affective Explanations for Real-World Visual Data

Panos Achlioptas · Maks Ovsjanikov · Leonidas Guibas · Sergey Tulyakov

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 240


In this work, we explore the space of emotional reactions induced by real-world images. For this, we first introduce a large-scale dataset that contains both categorical emotional reactions and free-form textual explanations for 85,007 publicly available images, analyzed by 6,283 annotators who were asked to indicate and explain how and why they felt when observing a particular image, with a total of 526,749 responses. Although emotional reactions are subjective and sensitive to context (personal mood, social status, past experiences) -- we show that there is significant common ground to capture emotional responses with a large support in the subject population. In light of this observation, we ask the following questions: i) Can we develop neural networks that provide plausible affective responses to real-world visual data explained with language? ii) Can we steer such methods towards producing explanations with varying degrees of pragmatic language, justifying different emotional reactions by grounding them in the visual stimulus? Finally, iii) How to evaluate the performance of such methods for this novel task? In this work, we take the first steps in addressing all of these questions, paving the way for more human-centric and emotionally-aware image analysis systems. Our code and data are publicly available at

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