Managing an agent's self-presentational strategies during an interaction

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Biancardi, Beatrice
Mancini, Maurizio
Lerner, Paul
Pelachaud, Catherine
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In this paper we present a computational model for managing the impressions of warmth and competence (the two fundamental dimensions of social cognition) of an Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) while interacting with a human. The ECA can choose among four different self-presentational strategies eliciting different impressions of warmth and/or competence in the user, through its verbal and non-verbal behavior. The choice of the non-verbal behaviors displayed by the ECA relies on our previous studies. In our first study, we annotated videos of human-human natural interactions of an expert on a given topic talking to a novice, in order to find associations between the warmth and competence elicited by the expert's non-verbal behaviors (such as type of gestures, arms rest poses, smiling). In a second study, we investigated whether the most relevant non-verbal cues found in the previous study were perceived in the same way when displayed by an ECA. The computational learning model presented in this paper aims to learn in real-time the best strategy (i.e., the degree of warmth and/or competence to display) for the ECA, that is, the one which maximizes user's engagement during the interaction. We also present an evaluation study, aiming to investigate our model in a real context. In the experimental scenario, the ECA plays the role of a museum guide introducing an exposition about video games. We collected data from 75 visitors of a science museum. The ECA was displayed in human dimension on a big screen in front of the participant, with a Kinect on the top. During the interaction, the ECA could adopt one of 4 self-presentational strategies during the whole interaction, or it could select one strategy randomly for each speaking turn, or it could use a reinforcement learning algorithm to choose the strategy having the highest reward (i.e., user's engagement) after each speaking turn.
Embodied conversational agents , Warmth , Competence , Human-agent interaction , Impression management , Non-verbal behavior
Biancardi, B., Mancini, M., Lerner, P. and Pelachaud, C. (2019) 'Managing an Agent's Self-Presentational Strategies During an Interaction', Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 6, 93. (16pp.) DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2019.00093