Mimicry and expressiveness of an ECA in human-agent interaction: Familiarity breeds content

Catherine Stevens, Bronwyn Pinchbeck, Trent Lewis, Martin Luerssen, Darius Pfitzner, David Powers, Arman Abrahamyan, Yvonne Leung, Gibert Guillaume

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    Two experiments investigated the effect of features of human behaviour on the quality of interaction with an Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA).

    In Experiment 1, visual prominence cues (head nod, eyebrow raise) of the ECA were manipulated to explore the hypothesis that likeability of an ECA increases as a function of interpersonal mimicry. In the context of an error detection task, the ECA either mimicked or did not mimic a head nod or brow raise that humans produced to give emphasis to a word when correcting the ECA’s vocabulary. In Experiment 2, presence versus absence of facial expressions on comprehension accuracy of two computer-driven ECA monologues was investigated.

    In Experiment 1, evidence for a positive relationship between ECA mimicry and lifelikeness was obtained. However, a mimicking agent did not elicit more human gestures. In Experiment 2, expressiveness was associated with greater comprehension and higher ratings of humour and engagement.

    Influences from mimicry can be explained by visual and motor simulation, and bidirectional links between similarity and liking. Cue redundancy and minimizing cognitive load are potential explanations for expressiveness aiding comprehension.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalComputational Cognitive Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016


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