Celso de Melo Presents Poster at 2011 Emotion Pre-Conference

January 27, 2011 | San Antonio, TX

Speaker: Celso De Melo, ICT
Host: 2011 Emotion Pre-Conference to the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

The Impact of Emotion Displays in Embodied Agents on Emergence of Cooperation with People

Acknowledging the social functions of emotion in people, there has been growing interest in the interpersonal effect of emotion on cooperation in social dilemmas. This work explores whether and how facial displays of emotion in computer agents with virtual bodies impact cooperation with human users. We describe an experiment where participants play the iterated prisoner’s dilemma with two agents that play the same strategy (tit-for-tat), but communicate different goal orientations (cooperative vs. individualistic) through their facial displays. The patterns of facial display reflect the agents’ goal (cooperation or self-interest) in a way that is consistent with appraisal theories of emotion. Results show that people cooperate significantly more with the cooperative than the individualistic agent. Aside from showcasing the potential of using embodied computer agents for doing basic research on the impact of emotion display in human decision-making, the results suggest that the nature of emotion displays (i.e., type and timing) is critical for promoting cooperation. These results are in contrast to the evolutionary argument that cooperators can simply be identified by high emotional expressivity, irrespective of whether the emotion is positive or negative (Boone & Buck, 2003; Schug et al 2010). In our case, both agents are equally emotionally expressive and people are cooperating differently with them. In line with recent research that shows that appraisals mediate inferences of personality characteristics from facial displays (Hareli & Hess, 2009), we argue people are inferring the agent’s goals from the emotion displays by reversing the emotion appraisal mechanism and, then, deciding whether to cooperate with the agents.

Authors are:
Celso M. de Melo, Institute for Creative Technologies – USC
Peter Carnevale, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business
Jonathan Gratch, Institute for Creative Technologies – USC