Cognitive Processing

, Volume 13, Supplement 2, pp 487–497 | Cite as

Analysing user’s reactions in advice-giving dialogues with a socially intelligent ECA

  • Nicole Novielli
  • Irene Mazzotta
  • Berardina De Carolis
  • Sebastiano Pizzutilo
Research Report


In this paper, we investigate the user’s reactions to received suggestion by an Embodied Conversational Agent playing the role of artificial therapist in the healthy eating domain. Specifically, we analyse the behaviour of people who voluntarily requested to receive information from the agent, and we compare it with the results of a previous evaluation experiment in which subjects were not properly motivated to interact with the agent because they were selected for evaluating the system. This study is part of an ongoing research aimed at developing an intelligent virtual agent that applies natural argumentation techniques to persuade the users to improve their eating habits.


Human computer interaction Analysis of user behaviour User’s reaction to persuasion Natural language user interfaces 



We want to acknowledge Enrica Pesare for her cooperation in collecting and analysing the data and the ‘Body Energy’ fitness centre in Mola di Bari (IT) for kindly enabling us to perform the new WoZ experiments.


  1. Andersen PA, Guerrero LK (1998) Handbook of communication and emotions. Research, theory, applications and contexts. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin JL (1962) How to do things with words, 2nd edn, 2005. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass)—PaperbackGoogle Scholar
  3. Bickmore T (2003) Relational agents: effecting change through human-computer relationships. PhD Thesis, Media Arts & Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  4. Bickmore T, Cassell J (2005) Social dialogue with embodied conversational agents. In: van Kuppevelt J, Dybkjaer L, Bernsen N (eds) Advances in natural, multimodal dialogue systems. Kluwer Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Cassell J, Joseph S, Sott P, Churchill E (2000) Embodied conversational agents. The MIT Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-262-03278-3Google Scholar
  6. Clarizio G, Mazzotta I, Novielli N, de Rosis F (2006) Social attitude towards a conversational character. In: Proceedings of the 15th IEEE international symposium on robot and human interactive communicationGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen PR, Levesque HJ (1990) Intention is choice with commitment. Artif Intell 42:213–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dahlback N, Joensson A, Ahrenberg L (1993) Wizard of Oz studies: why and how. In: Proceedings ACM international workshop on intelligent user interfaces. ACM Press, New York, pp 193–200Google Scholar
  9. Darves C, Oviatt S (2002) Adaptation of users’ spoken dialogue patterns in a conversational interface. In: Hansen J, Pellom B (eds) Proceedings of the 7th international conference on spoken language processing (ICSLP2002)Google Scholar
  10. de Rosis F, Novielli N, Carofiglio V, Cavalluzzi A, De Carolis B (2006) User modeling and adaptation in health promotion dialogs with an animated character. J Biomed Inform, Special Issue on ‘Dialog systems for health communications’ 39(5):514–531Google Scholar
  11. de Rosis F, Batliner A, Novielli N, Steidl S (2007) ‘You are Sooo cool, valentina!’ recognizing social attitude in speech-based dialogues with an ECA. In: Paiva A, Picard R, Prada R (eds) Affective computing and intelligent interaction, springer LNCS 4738, pp 179–190. ISBN 978-3-540-74888-5, ISSN: 0302-9743 (Print) 1611-3349 (Online), doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-74889-2_17
  12. Gill AJ, Oberlander J (2002) Taking care of the linguistic features of extraversion. In: Gray W, Schunn C (eds) Proceedings of the 24th annual conference of the cognitive science society, pp 363–368Google Scholar
  13. Graesser A, Wiemer-Hastings P, Wiemer-Hastings K, Harter ND, Person, the Tutoring Research Group (2000) Using latent semantic analysis to evaluate the contributions of students in AutoTutor. Interact Learn Environ 8(2):129–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kibble R (2006) Dialectical text planning. In: Proceedings of CMNA 2006. In the scope of ECAIGoogle Scholar
  15. Landauer TK, Dumais ST (1997) A solution to Plato’s problem: the latent semantic analysis theory of the acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge. Psycholog Rev 104:211–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mann WC, Matthiesen CM, Thompson SA (1989) Rhetorical structure theory and text analysis. Information Sciences Institute Research Report, pp 89–242, ISI/RR-89-242Google Scholar
  17. Marsella SC, Johnson WL, La Bore CM (2003) Interactive pedagogical drama for health interventions. In: Hoppe U (ed) Artificial intelligence in education: shaping the future of learning through intelligent technologies. Amsterdam, IOS Press, pp 341–348Google Scholar
  18. Mazzotta I, Novielli N, Silvestri V, de Rosis F (2007a) ‘O Francesca, ma che sei grulla?’ Emotions and irony in persuasion dialogues. In: Basili R, Pazienza MT (eds) Proceedings of the 10th congress of the Italian association for artificial intelligence on AI*IA 2007: artificial intelligence and human-oriented computing (AI*IA ‘07). Springer, Berlin, pp 602–613Google Scholar
  19. Mazzotta I, de Rosis F, Carofiglio V (2007b) Portia: a user-adapted persuasion system in the healthy-eating domain. IEEE Intell Syst 22(6):42–51. ISSN:1541-1672Google Scholar
  20. Miceli M, de Rosis F, Poggi I (2006) Emotional and non emotional persuasion. Appl Artif Intell Int J 20(10):849–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nass C, Isbister K, Lee EJ (2000) Truth is beauty: researching embodied conversational agents. In: Cassell J, Prevost S, Sullivan J, Churchill E (eds) Embodied conversational agents. The MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 374–402Google Scholar
  22. Novielli N, Strapparava C (2010) Exploring the lexical semantics of dialogue acts. J Comput Linguist Appl 1(1-2):9–26 ISSN 0976-0962Google Scholar
  23. Novielli N, de Rosis F, Mazzotta I (2010) User attitude towards an embodied conversational agent: effects of the interaction mode. J Pragmat 42(9):2385–2397. ISSN: 0378-2166Google Scholar
  24. O’Keefe DJ (2002) Persuasion: theory and research, 2nd edn. Sage Publications Inc., Beverly HillsGoogle Scholar
  25. Oviatt S, Adams B (2001) Designing and evaluating conversational interfaces with animated characters. In: Embodied conversational agents. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 319–345Google Scholar
  26. Oviatt SL, Cohen PR, Wang M (1994) Towards interface design for human language technology: modality and structure as determinants of linguistic complexity. Speech Commun 15:283–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Polhemus L, Shih L-F, Swan, Karen (2001) Virtual interactivity: the representation of social presence in an on line discussion. In: Proceedings of the annual meeting of the American educational research association, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  28. Prakken H (2006) Formal systems for persuasion dialogue. Knowl Eng Rev 21:163–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scherer KR, Wranik T, Sangsue J, Tran V, Scherer U (2004) Emotions in everyday life: probability of occurrence, risk factors, appraisal and reaction pattern. Soc Sci Inf 43(4):499–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Searle JR (1975) A taxonomy of illocutionary acts. Language, Mind and Knowledge, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Minnesota, pp 344–369Google Scholar
  31. Swan K (2002) Immediacy, social presence and asynchronous discussion. In: Bourne J, Moore JC (eds) Elements of quality online education, vol 3. Sloan Center For Online Education, Nedham, MA, pp 157–172Google Scholar
  32. Verheij B (2003) Dialectical argumentation with argumentation schemes: an approach to legal logic. Artif Intell Law 11(2–3):167–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Walton DN (1990) What is reasoning? What is an argument? J Philos 87(8):399–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Walton DN (1996) Argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning. Erlbaum, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  35. Walton D (2006) How to make and defend a proposal in a deliberation dialogue. Artif Intell Law 14(3):177–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Walton D, Godden D (2005) The nature and status of critical questions in argumentation schemes. The uses of argument. In: Hitchcock D, Farr D (eds) Proceedings of a conference at McMaster university, pp 476–484. Ontario Society for the Study of ArgumentationGoogle Scholar
  37. Walton D, Gordon TS (2005) Critical questions in computational model of legacy argument, IAAIL workshop series, international workshop on argumentation. In: Dunne PE, Bench-Capon T (eds) Artificial intelligence and law. Wolf Legal Publishers, Nijmegen, pp 103–111Google Scholar
  38. Walton D, Reed C (2003) Diagramming, argumentation schemes and critical questions. In: van Eemeren FH et al (eds) Anyone who has a view: theoretical contributions to the study of argumentation. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 195–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zimmerman J, Ayoob E, Forlizzi J, McQuaid M (2005) Putting a face on embodied interface agents. In: Proceedings of the conference on designing pleasurable products and interfaces. Eindhoven Technical University Press, pp 233–248Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Novielli
    • 1
  • Irene Mazzotta
    • 1
  • Berardina De Carolis
    • 1
  • Sebastiano Pizzutilo
    • 1
  1. 1.Intelligent Interfaces, Department of InformaticsUniversity of BariBariItaly

Personalised recommendations