On Large Language Models' Selection Bias in Multi-Choice Questions

Published on Sep 7, 2023


Multi-choice questions (MCQs) serve as a common yet important task format in the research of large language models (LLMs). Our work shows that LLMs exhibit an inherent "selection bias" in MCQs, which refers to LLMs' preferences to select options located at specific positions (like "Option C"). This bias is prevalent across various LLMs, making their performance vulnerable to option position changes in MCQs. We identify that one primary cause resulting in selection bias is option numbering, i.e., the ID symbols A/B/C/D associated with the options. To mitigate selection bias, we propose a new method called PriDe. PriDe first decomposes the observed model prediction distribution into an intrinsic prediction over option contents and a prior distribution over option IDs. It then estimates the prior by permutating option contents on a small number of test samples, which is used to debias the subsequent test samples. We demonstrate that, as a label-free, inference-time method, PriDe achieves a more effective and computation-efficient debiasing than strong baselines. We further show that the priors estimated by PriDe generalize well across different domains, highlighting its practical potential in broader scenarios.


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