Exploring the Effects of Natural Language Justifications in Food Recommender Systems

Users of food recommender systems typically prefer popular recipes, which tend to be unhealthy. To encourage users to select healthier recommendations by making more informed food decisions, we introduce a methodology to generate and present a natural language justification that emphasizes the nutritional content, or health risks and benefits of recommended recipes. We designed a framework that takes a user and two food recommendations as input and produces an automatically generated natural language justification as output, which is based on the user’s characteristics and the recipes’ features. In doing so, we implemented and evaluated eight different justification strategies through two different justification styles (e.g., comparing each recipe’s food features) in an online user study (N = 503). We compared user food choices for two personalized recommendation approaches, popularity-based vs our health-aware algorithm, and evaluated the impact of presenting natural language justifications. We showed that comparative justifications styles are effective in supporting choices for our healthy-aware recommendations, confirming the impact of our methodology on food choices.
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