Visual Social Relationship Recognition

Junnan Li, Yongkang Wong, Qi Zhao, Mohan S. Kankanhalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social relationships form the basis of social structure of humans. Developing computational models to understand social relationships from visual data is essential for building intelligent machines that can better interact with humans in a social environment. In this work, we study the problem of visual social relationship recognition in images. We propose a dual-glance model for social relationship recognition, where the first glance fixates at the person of interest and the second glance deploys attention mechanism to exploit contextual cues. To enable this study, we curated a large scale People in Social Context dataset, which comprises of 23,311 images and 79,244 person pairs with annotated social relationships. Since visually identifying social relationship bears certain degree of uncertainty, we further propose an adaptive focal loss to leverage the ambiguous annotations for more effective learning. We conduct extensive experiments to quantitatively and qualitatively demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed method, which yields state-of-the-art performance on social relationship recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1750-1764
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was carried out at the NUS-ZJU SeSaMe Centre. It is supported by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its International Research Centre in Singapore Funding Initiative.


  • Attention
  • Context-driven analysis
  • Label ambiguity
  • Social relationship

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