MilaNLP @ WASSA: Does BERT Feel Sad When You Cry?


The paper describes the MilaNLP team’s submission (Bocconi University, Milan) in the WASSA 2021 Shared Task on Empathy Detection and Emotion Classification. We focus on Track 2 - Emotion Classification - which consists of predicting the emotion of reactions to English news stories at the essay-level. We test different models based on multi-task and multi-input frameworks. The goal was to better exploit all the correlated information given in the data set. We find, though, that empathy as an auxiliary task in multi-task learning and demographic attributes as additional input provide worse performance with respect to single-task learning. While the result is competitive in terms of the competition, our results suggest that emotion and empathy are not related tasks - at least for the purpose of prediction.