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A Study of Emotional Contagion with Virtual Characters

  • Jason Tsai
  • Emma Bowring
  • Stacy Marsella
  • Wendy Wood
  • Milind Tambe
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7502)

Abstract

In social psychology, emotional contagion describes the widely observed phenomenon of one person’s emotions mimicking surrounding people’s emotions [10]. In this paper, we perform a battery of experiments to explore the existence of agent-human emotional contagion. The first study is a between-subjects design, wherein subjects were shown an image of a character’s face with either a neutral or happy expression. Findings indicate that even a still image induces a very strong increase in self-reported happiness between Neutral and Happy conditions with all characters tested.

In a second study, we examine the effect of a virtual character’s presence in a strategic decision by presenting subjects with a modernized Stag Hunt game. Our experiments show that the contagion effect is substantially dampened and does not cause a consistent impact on behavior. A third study explores the impact of the strategic situation within the Stag Hunt and conducts the same experiment using a description of the same strategic situation with the decision already made. We find that the emotional impact returns, implying that the contagion effect is substantially lessened in the presence of a strategic decision.

Keywords

Virtual Reality Strategic Decision Emotional Contagion Contagion Effect Virtual Character 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Tsai
    • 1
  • Emma Bowring
    • 2
  • Stacy Marsella
    • 3
  • Wendy Wood
    • 1
  • Milind Tambe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.University of the PacificStocktonUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Creative TechnologiesUSCPlaya VistaUSA

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