Ethnic Identity and Engagement in Embodied Conversational Agents

  • Francisco Iacobelli
  • Justine Cassell
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4722)


In this paper we present the design, development and initial evaluation of a virtual peer that models ethnicity through culturally authentic verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The behaviors chosen for the implementation come from an ethnographic study with African-American and Caucasian children and the evaluation of the virtual peer consists of a study in which children interacted with an African American or a Caucasian virtual peer and then assessed its ethnicity. Results suggest that it may be possible to tip the ethnicity of a embodied conversational agent by changing verbal and non-verbal behaviors instead of surface attributes, and that children engage with those virtual peers in ways that have promise for educational applications.


Virtual Peers Embodied Conversational Agents Culture Ethnicity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Iacobelli
    • 1
  • Justine Cassell
    • 1
  1. 1.Northwestern University, Frances Searle Building 2-343. 2240 Campus Drive. Evanston, 60208-2952 

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