Martijn Maatman, Jonathan Gratch, Stacy Marsella: “Natural Behavior of a Listening Agent”

In contrast to the variety of listening behaviors produced in human-to-human interaction, most virtual agents sit or stand passively when a user speaks. This is a reflection of the fact that although the correct responsive behavior of a listener during a conversation is often related to the semantics, the state of current speech understanding technology is such that semantic information is unavailable until after an utterance is complete. This paper will illustrate that appropriate listening behavior can also be generated by other features of a speaker’s behavior that are available in real time such as speech quality, posture shifts and head movements. This paper presents a mapping from these real-time obtainable features of a human speaker to agent listening behaviors.

Skip Rizzo, Jacki Morie, Josh Williams, Jarrell Pair, Jonathan Gratch, John Galen Buckwalter: “Human Emotional State and its Relevance for Military VR Training”

Combat environments by their nature can produce a dramatic range of emotional responses in military personnel. When immersed in the emotional “fog of war”, the potential exists for optimal human decision-making and performance of goal-directed activities to be seriously compromised. This may be especially true when combat training is conducted under conditions that lack emotional engagement by the soldier. Real world military training often naturally includes stress induction that aims to promote a similarity of internal emotional stimulus cues with what is expected to be present on the battlefield. This approach to facilitating optimal training effectiveness is supported by a long history of learning theory research. Current Virtual Reality military training approaches are noteworthy in their emphasis on creating hi-fidelity graphic and audio realism with the aim to foster better transfer of training. However, less emphasis is typically placed on the creation of emotionally evocative virtual training scenarios that can induce emotional stress in a manner similar to what is typically experienced under real world training conditions. As well, emotional issues in the post-combat aftermath need to be addressed, as can be seen in the devastating emotional difficulties that occur in some military personnel following combat. This is evidenced by the number of recent medical reports that suggest the incidence of “Vietnam-levels” of combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptomatology in returning military personnel from the Iraq conflict. In view of these issues, the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) has initiated a research program to study emotional issues that are relevant to VR military applications. This paper will present the rationale and status of two ongoing VR research programs at the ICT that address sharply contrasting ends of the emotional spectrum relevant to the military: 1. The Sensory Environments Evaluation (SEE) Project is examining basic factors that underlie emotion as it occurs within VR training environments and how this could impact transfer of training, and 2. The Full Spectrum Warrior (FSW) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Project which is currently in the process of converting the existing FSW combat tactical simulation training scenario (and X-Box game) into a VR treatment system for the conduct of graduated exposure therapy in Iraq war military personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Bilyana Martinovski, Wenji Mao, Jonathan Gratch, Stacy Marsella: “Mitigation Theory: An Integrated Approach”

The purpose of this paper is to develop a theoretical model of mitigation by integrating cognitive and discourse approaches to appraisal and coping. Mitigation involves strategic, emotional, linguistic, and Theory of Mind processes on different levels of consciousness. We emphasize that discourse analysis can assist our understanding of these processes.

Skip Rizzo, Jarrell Pair, Peter McNerney, Ernie Eastlund, Brian Manson, Jonathan Gratch, Randall Hill, Michael Roy, Bill Swartout: “Development of a VR Therapy Application for Iraq War Military Personnel with PTSD”

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is reported to be caused by traumatic events that are outside the range of usual human experiences including (but not limited to) military combat, violent personal assault, being kidnapped or taken hostage and terrorist attacks. Initial data suggests that 1 out of 6 returning Iraq War military personnel are exhibiting symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD. Virtual Reality (VR) exposure therapy has been used in previous treatments of PTSD patients with reports of positive outcomes. The aim of the current paper is to specify the rationale, design and development of an Iraq War PTSD VR application that is being created from the virtual assets that were initially developed for theX-Box game entitled Full Spectrum Warrior which was inspired by a combat tactical training simulation, Full Spectrum Command.

Bilyana Martinovski, David Traum, Stacy Marsella: “Rejection of Empathy in Negotiation”

Trust is a crucial quality in the development of individuals and societies and empathy plays a key role in the formation of trust. Trust and empathy have growing importance in studies of negotiation. However, empathy can be rejected which complicates its role in negotiation. This paper presents a linguistic analysis of empathy by focusing on rejection of empathy in negotiation. Some of the rejections are due to failed recognition of the rejector’s needs and desires whereas others have mainly strategic functions gaining momentum in the negotiation. In both cases, rejection of empathy is a phase in the negotiation not a breakdown.

ICT Appoints Lunceford Chief Technology Advisor

Dr. Randy Hill’s promotion comes as the institute restructures to move technology to the market.