Better Zero-Shot Reasoning with Role-Play Prompting

Published on Aug 15, 2023


Modern large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, exhibit a remarkable capacity for role-playing, enabling them to embody not only human characters but also non-human entities like a Linux terminal. This versatility allows them to simulate complex human-like interactions and behaviors within various contexts, as well as to emulate specific objects or systems. While these capabilities have enhanced user engagement and introduced novel modes of interaction, the influence of role-playing on LLMs' reasoning abilities remains underexplored. In this study, we introduce a strategically designed role-play prompting methodology and assess its performance under the zero-shot setting across twelve diverse reasoning benchmarks, encompassing arithmetic, commonsense reasoning, symbolic reasoning, and more. Leveraging models such as ChatGPT and Llama 2, our empirical results illustrate that role-play prompting consistently surpasses the standard zero-shot approach across most datasets. Notably, accuracy on AQuA rises from 53.5% to 63.8%, and on Last Letter from 23.8% to 84.2%. Beyond enhancing contextual understanding, we posit that role-play prompting serves as an implicit Chain-of-Thought (CoT) trigger, thereby improving the quality of reasoning. By comparing our approach with the Zero-Shot-CoT technique, which prompts the model to "think step by step", we further demonstrate that role-play prompting can generate a more effective CoT. This highlights its potential to augment the reasoning capabilities of LLMs.


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