Towards the improvement of self-service systems via emotional virtual agents

Christopher J. Martin, Leslie D. Ball, Jacqueline Archibald, Lloyd Carson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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    Affective computing and emotional agents have been found to have a positive effect on human-computer interactions. In order to develop an acceptable emotional agent for use in a self-service interaction, two stages of research were identified and carried out; the first to determine which facial expressions are present in such an interaction and the second to determine which emotional agent behaviours are perceived as appropriate during a problematic self-service shopping task. In the first stage, facial expressions associated with negative affect were found to occur during self-service shopping interactions, indicating that facial expression detection is suitable for detecting negative affective states during self-service interactions. In the second stage, user perceptions of the emotional facial expressions displayed by an emotional agent during a problematic self-service interaction were gathered. Overall, the expression of disgust was found to be perceived as inappropriate while emotionally neutral behaviour was perceived as appropriate, however gender differences suggested that females perceived surprise as inappropriate. Results suggest that agents should change their behaviour and appearance based on user characteristics such as gender.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 26th Annual BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference on People and Computers
    Place of PublicationSwindon
    PublisherBCS Learning & Development Ltd.
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2012
    Event26th Annual BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference on Human-Computer Interaction - Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 10 Sep 201214 Sep 2012
    Conference number: 26th


    Conference26th Annual BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
    Abbreviated titleBCS-HCI '12
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    OtherThis year's conference returns to its foundation theme of 'People and Computers', and so has attracted a wide range of HCI work. The BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction is the leading conference of its type in the UK and is one of the top European conferences in the field. It performs a critical role in supporting the development and success of the UK HCI community. As such, the conference aims to provide opportunities for open dialogue and academic debate that is inclusive of our entire community.

    This ethos is reflected in these proceedings, which represent a body of work we hope will broaden your thoughts, develop your ideas, and deepen your understanding of state of the art HCI research.


    • Affective computing
    • Virtual agents
    • Emotions
    • Emotion detection
    • HCI
    • computer vision
    • Empathy


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