Ning Wang, Jonathan Gratch: “Don’t Just Stare at Me!”

June 18, 2010 | Atlanta, GA

Speaker: Ning Wang, Jonathan Gratch
Host: 28th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Communication is more effective and persuasive when par-ticipants establish rapport. Tickle-Degnen and Rosenthal argue rapport arises when participants exhibit mutual attentiveness, positivity and coordination. In this paper, we investigate how these factors relate to perceptions of rap-port when users interact via avatars in virtual worlds. In this study, participants told a story to what they believed was the avatar of another participant. In fact, the avatar was a computer program that systematically manipulated levels of attentiveness, positivity and coordination. In contrast to Tickel-Degnen and Rosenthal’s findings, high-levels of mutual attentiveness alone can dramatically lower percep-tions of rapport in avatar communication. Indeed, an agent that attempted to maximize mutual attention performed as poorly as an agent that was designed to convey boredom. Adding positivity and coordination to mutual attentiveness, on the other hand, greatly improved rapport. This work un-veils the dependencies between components of rapport and informs the design of agents