Modeling Warmth and Competence in Virtual Characters

  • Truong-Huy D. NguyenEmail author
  • Elin Carstensdottir
  • Nhi Ngo
  • Magy Seif El-Nasr
  • Matt Gray
  • Derek Isaacowitz
  • David Desteno
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9238)


Developing believable virtual characters has been a subject of research in many fields including graphics, animations, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction. One challenge towards commoditizing the use of virtual humans is the ability to algorithmically construct characters of different stereotypes. In this paper, we present our efforts in designing virtual characters that can exhibit non-verbal behaviors to reflect varying degrees of warmth and competence, two personality traits shown to underlie social judgments and form stereotypical perception. To embark on developing a computational behavior model that portrays these traits, we adopt an iterative design methodology tuning the design using theory from theatre, animation and psychology, expert reviews, user testing and feedback. Using this process we were able to construct a set of virtual characters that portray variations of warmth and competence through combination of gestures, use of space, and gaze behaviors. In this paper we discuss the design methodology, the resultant system, and initial experiment results showing the promise of the model.


Believable virtual characters Non-verbal behavior Personality traits 



We would like to thank Stacy Marsella for his insightful discussions and advice, Stacy Marcotte for helping us setting up validation experiments, and Teresa Dey for the character animations. This research is supported by Northeastern Tier 1 Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Truong-Huy D. Nguyen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elin Carstensdottir
    • 1
  • Nhi Ngo
    • 1
  • Magy Seif El-Nasr
    • 1
  • Matt Gray
    • 1
  • Derek Isaacowitz
    • 1
  • David Desteno
    • 1
  1. 1.Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA

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