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Embodying Politeness in Persuasive Humanoid Agents for Small Group Scenarios
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Computer Science, Computational Science and Technology (CST).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4689-4647
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In both physical and virtual environments, small group interactions significantly shape our social experiences. Understanding and replicating situated group interactions with virtual agents or physical robots pose possibilities and challenges. Central to these challenges lies the critical aspect of politeness, which serves as a fundamental cornerstone in shaping our social interactions. This PhD thesis investigates the profound significance of politeness strategies in shaping social interactions within small free-standing conversational groups in physical and virtual environments with humanoid artificial agents. It particularly focuses on their adaptability to virtual characters or Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs) and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). The thesis explores the impact of these strategies on persuasiveness, adherence to social norms, and the formation of positive perceptions during interactions between participants and virtual agents or humanoid robots while joining a group of artificial humanoid agents. It involves a series of user studies with an experimental setup, which entails presenting participants with dilemmas in either a virtual or physical environment. Participants should decide between expending more effort to comply with the agent’s request or opting for a least-effort alternative to join a group while ignoring the request. Additionally, the setup evaluates participant responses to various politeness strategies expressed by virtual agents or robots when extending invitations to join a small, free-standing group. The research contributes by defining behaviors aligned with politeness strategies, revealing participant adherence to social norms even in situations requiring more effortful choices, and pinpointing optimal behaviors based on criteria such as persuasiveness, politeness, and social adherence. Ultimately, the findings provide insights into the indispensable role of politeness strategies in Human-Agent Interaction to gently influence the decisions of humans while maintaining positive relations with them. These insights pave the way for designing more effective and socially acceptable behaviors for virtual agents and robots across diverse domains.

Abstract [sv]

I både fysiska och virtuella miljöer formar små gruppinteraktioner avsevärt våra sociala upplevelser. Att förstå och replikera sammanhangsbaserade gruppinteraktioner med virtuella agenter eller fysiska robotar innebär möjligheter och utmaningar. Centralt för dessa utmaningar är den kritiska aspekten andående artighet, som fungerar som en grundläggande hörnsten i att forma våra sociala interaktioner. Denna doktorsavhandling undersöker den djupa betydelsen av artighetsstrategier för att forma sociala interaktioner inom små fristående samtalsgrupper i fysiska och virtuella miljöer med humanoida artificiella agenter. Den fokuserar särskilt på deras anpassningsförmåga till virtuella karaktärer eller Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA) och Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). Avhandlingen undersöker effekten av dessa strategier på övertalningsförmåga, efterlevnad av sociala normer och bildandet av positiva uppfattningar under interaktioner mellan deltagare och virtuella agenter eller humanoida robotar samtidigt som de ansluter till en grupp artificiella humanoida agenter. Den består av en serie användarstudier med experimentupplägg, vilket innebär att deltagarna ställs inför dilemman i antingen en virtuell eller fysisk miljö. Deltagarna får välja mellan att lägga ner mer ansträngning på att följa agentens begäran eller välja ett minst ansträngningsalternativ för att ansluta till en grupp samtidigt som de ignorerar begäran. Dessutom utvärderar experimentet deltagarnas svar på olika artighetsstrategier som uttrycks av virtuella agenter eller robotar när de inbjuder till att ansluta till en små, fristående grupp. Forskningen bidrar genom att definiera beteenden i linje med artighetsstrategier, avslöja deltagarnas efterlevnad av sociala normer även i situationer som kräver mer ansträngande val, och fastställa optimala beteenden baserat på kriterier som övertalningsförmåga, artighet och social efterlevnad. Slutligen ger resultaten insikter i den oumbärliga rollen av artighetsstrategier i interaktion mellan människa och agent för att varsamt påverka människors beslut samtidigt som de bibehåller positiva relationer med dem. Dessa insikter banar väg för att utforma mer effektiva och socialt acceptabla beteenden för virtuella agenter och robotar över olika domäner.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2024. , p. 59
Series
TRITA-EECS-AVL ; 2024:14
Keywords [en]
politeness, persuasiveness, small free-standing conversational groups, embodiment, embodied conversational agents, humanoid robots, virtual reality, immersiveness, human-agent interaction, social norms, multimodal expressive communication
Keywords [sv]
artighet, övertalningsförmåga, små fristående samtalsgrupper, förkroppsligande, förkroppsligade samtalsagenter, humanoida robotar, virtuell verklighet, uppslukande, interaktion mellan människa och agent, sociala normer, multimodal uttrycksfull kommunikation
National Category
Human Computer Interaction Media and Communication Technology Robotics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-343332ISBN: 978-91-8040-833-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-343332DiVA, id: diva2:1836677
Public defence
2024-03-06, https://kth-se.zoom.us/j/62065064122, Visualization Studio VIC, Lindstedtsvägen 7, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20240212

Available from: 2024-02-12 Created: 2024-02-09 Last updated: 2024-02-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Influence of virtual agent politeness behaviors on how users join small conversational groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Influence of virtual agent politeness behaviors on how users join small conversational groups
2020 (English)In: Proceedings of the 20th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA 2020, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) , 2020Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Politeness behaviors could affect individuals' decisions heavily in their daily lives and may therefore also play an important role in human-agent interactions. This study considers the impact of politeness behaviors made by a virtual agent, already in a small face-to-face conversational group with another agent, on a human participant as they approach to join it in a virtual environment displayed on a monitor. The agent uses five verbal and nonverbal politeness strategies, ranging from indirect and implicit to direct and explicit, in an attempt to influence the participant to join the group at an inconvenient location, which requires more time and effort than a direct route that would ignore the invitation of the agent. In addition to assessing the success of the strategies at influencing participant behavior, the participants' perception of the agent's persuasive behavior is assessed in relation to clarity, face loss, positive face, and negative face. Based on results from a within-subjects experiment with 30 participants, we found that more direct and explicit politeness strategies have a higher level of success when requesting a participant to join a small group at an inconvenient location, but sometimes negatively impact their perception of the agent. A positive politeness strategy was found to be the most effective for both persuasive success and maintaining a positive impression of the agent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2020
Keywords
Embodied conversational agents, Face threatening acts, Multi-modal perception, Persuasiveness, Politeness, Small group behavior, Daily lives, Face to face, Human agent interactions, Virtual agent, Intelligent virtual agents
National Category
Computer Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-291569 (URN)10.1145/3383652.3423917 (DOI)000728153600057 ()2-s2.0-85096965242 (Scopus ID)
Conference
20th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA '20, Virtual Event, Scotland, UK, October 20-22, 2020
Note

QC 20210325

Available from: 2021-03-25 Created: 2021-03-25 Last updated: 2024-02-09Bibliographically approved
2. Don't walk between us: adherence to social conventions when joining a small conversational group of agents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Don't walk between us: adherence to social conventions when joining a small conversational group of agents
2022 (English)In: IVA '22: Proceedings of the 22nd ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, New York,NY,USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

When modeling life-like Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs), conveying politeness through verbal and nonverbal behaviors with persuasive intents is a significant challenge, as it underlies the conventional set of behavioral rules that govern human communication. In the present study, we explore the adherence to such rules in the context of joining a small, freestanding conversational group of agents in VR. In particular, we focus on the behavior adopted by participants while walking towards the agents, and on whether ECAs were treated in the same way human agents normally are. 45 test subjects were invited by an ECA to walk towards the group by applying one of six possible politeness strategies; after freely joining the group, they were asked to rate the agent's politeness according to four distinct aspects (Clarity, Face loss, Positive face, and Negative face). Across all strategies, in 48% of the trials participants were successfully persuaded to join the group at an inconvenient location. Out of those trials, participants adhered to social conventions by not crossing the convex empty space between the group members (o-space) in 75% of them on average. Additionally, analysis of verbal and nonverbal behaviors in ECAs shows that direct request strategies are more effective than indirect ones, although in some cases they may be perceived as less polite.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York,NY,USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022
Keywords
politeness theory, persuasiveness, virtual reality, small group behavior, embodied conversational agents
National Category
Interaction Technologies Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-343214 (URN)10.1145/3514197.3549676 (DOI)001118873500014 ()2-s2.0-85138671810 (Scopus ID)
Conference
IVA '22: ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, Faro, Portugal, September 6 - 9, 2022
Note

Part of ISBN 978-1-4503-9248-8

QC 20240209

Available from: 2024-02-08 Created: 2024-02-08 Last updated: 2024-02-09Bibliographically approved
3. Impact of Multimodal Communication on Persuasiveness and Perceived Politeness of Virtual Agents in Small Groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impact of Multimodal Communication on Persuasiveness and Perceived Politeness of Virtual Agents in Small Groups
2023 (English)In: Proceedings of the 23rd ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA 2023, New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) , 2023, article id 18Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Multimodal communication is essential in human interactions, as it allows for a more comprehensive and nuanced exchange of information and emotions. The use of multiple communication channels such as speech, body language, and gaze can enhance the clarity and richness of the communication, leading to better understanding and more effective social interactions. This paper investigates the importance of multimodal expressive communication, specifically voice, arm gestures, and gaze, in regulating human-agent interaction when joining a group of two virtual agents in a virtual reality environment. One of the virtual agents in the group uses politeness behaviors based on Brown and Levinson's politeness theory to invite participants to join the group at the side further to them, even though a closer side is available. The study finds that a combination of all modalities (verbal, gaze, arm gesture) is more effective in persuading participants to join the group at the farthest side, and arm gestures alone are more effective than gaze behavior although they are perceived to be less polite. Furthermore, although verbal-only communication can be as persuasive as other modalities, it can place a greater cognitive load on participants. This increased cognitive load may lead to delayed responses in comparison to other modalities. The findings give insight to designers of human-agent interaction systems about the use of multiple communication channels, particularly nonverbal behaviors such as arm gestures, to enhance the effectiveness of persuasive communication but they also need to balance this with other factors such as the impression and perceived politeness of virtual agents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2023
National Category
Interaction Technologies Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-343215 (URN)10.1145/3570945.3607356 (DOI)001157038100018 ()2-s2.0-85182524539 (Scopus ID)
Conference
23rd ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA 2023, Wurzburg, Germany, 19 - 22 September 2023
Note

QC 20240312

Available from: 2024-02-08 Created: 2024-02-08 Last updated: 2024-03-12Bibliographically approved
4. Persuasive polite robots in free-standing conversational groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Persuasive polite robots in free-standing conversational groups
Show others...
2023 (English)In: Proceedings IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2023), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) , 2023, p. 1-8Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Politeness is at the core of the common set of behavioral norms that regulate human communication and is therefore of significant interest in the design of Human-Robot Interactions. In this paper, we investigate how the politeness behaviors of a humanoid robot impact human decisions about where to join a group of two robots. We also evaluate the resulting impact on the perception of the robot's politeness. In a study involving 59 participants, the main (Pepper) robot in the group invited participants to join using six politeness behaviors derived from Brown and Levinson's politeness theory. It requests participants to join the group at the furthest side of the group which involves more effort to reach than a closer side that is also available to the participant but would ignore the request of the robot. We evaluated the robot's effectiveness in terms of persuasiveness, politeness, and clarity. We found that more direct and explicit politeness strategies derived from the theory have a higher level of success in persuading participants to join at the furthest side of the group. We also evaluated participants' adherence to social norms i.e. not walking through the center, or \textit{o-space}, of the group when joining it. Our results showed that participants tended to adhere to social norms when joining at the furthest side by not walking through the center of the group of robots, even though they were informed that the robots were fully automated. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2023
Keywords
Social robotics, Politeness, Persuasiveness, Social norms, Human-Robot interaction, free-standing conversational groups
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-338180 (URN)10.1109/IROS55552.2023.10341830 (DOI)001133658803003 ()2-s2.0-85182524342 (Scopus ID)
Conference
2023 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2023)
Note

Part of proceedings ISBN 978-1-6654-9190-7

QC 20231016

Available from: 2023-10-16 Created: 2023-10-16 Last updated: 2024-03-04Bibliographically approved
5. Impact of Immersiveness on Persuasiveness, Politeness, and Social Adherence in Human-Agent Interactions within Small Groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impact of Immersiveness on Persuasiveness, Politeness, and Social Adherence in Human-Agent Interactions within Small Groups
2023 (English)In: ICAT-EGVE 2023: International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence and Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments / [ed] J.-M. Normand, M. Sugimoto and V. Sundstedt, Eurographics - European Association for Computer Graphics, 2023Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Politeness is critical for shaping human-human interactions and therefore seems an important consideration in human interactions with Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs). However, the impact of artificially-generated politeness behaviors on humans in Virtual Environments (VE) is not clear. We explore the impact of immersiveness on the perceived politeness and consequent persuasive abilities of ECAs in a small group context. A user study with two main conditions, immersive and non-immersive, was conducted with 66 participants. In the immersive condition, participants were fully immersed in virtual reality (HMD, walking freely), while in the non-immersive condition, participants used a desktop computer interface (screen display, mouse and keyboard control). In both conditions, the primary agent in a group of two ECAs invited participants to join the group using six politeness behaviors derived from Brown and Levinson's politeness theory. While the results of the study did not indicate any significant differences between the immersive and non-immersive conditions in terms of persuasiveness and offensiveness, in the immersive condition, participants perceived the ECAs as less friendly and found their requests to be less clear. On the other hand, participants in the immersive condition reported a greater sense of freedom. Furthermore, the non-immersive condition showed higher adherence to social norms compared to the immersive condition. These findings emphasize the significance of examining immersiveness on the persuasiveness of ECAs and their perceived politeness and social adherence by humans in human-agent interactions within small groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Eurographics - European Association for Computer Graphics, 2023
National Category
Human Computer Interaction Interaction Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-343216 (URN)10.2312/egve.20231315 (DOI)
Conference
International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence & Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments (2023), 6 - 8 December 2023, Dublin, Ireland
Note

Part of ISBN 978-3-03868-218-9

QC 20240209

Available from: 2024-02-08 Created: 2024-02-08 Last updated: 2024-02-09Bibliographically approved
6. Join Me Here if You Will: Investigating Embodiment and Politeness Behaviors When Joining Small Groups of Humans, Robots, and Virtual Characters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Join Me Here if You Will: Investigating Embodiment and Politeness Behaviors When Joining Small Groups of Humans, Robots, and Virtual Characters
2024 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Politeness and embodiment are pivotal elements in Human-Agent Interactions. While many previous works advocate the positive role of embodiment in enhancing Human-Agent Interactions, it remains unclear how embodiment and politeness affect individuals joining groups. In this paper, we explore how polite behaviors (verbal and nonverbal) exhibited by three distinct embodiments (humans, robots, and virtual characters) influence individuals' decisions to join a group of two agents in a controlled experiment (N=54). We assessed agent effectiveness regarding persuasiveness, perceived politeness, and participants' trajectories when joining the group. We found that embodiment does not significantly impact agent persuasiveness and perceived politeness, but polite behaviors do. Direct and explicit politeness strategies have a higher success rate in persuading participants to join at the furthest side. Lastly, participants adhered to social norms when joining at the furthest side, maintained a greater physical distance from humans, chose longer paths, and walked faster when interacting with humans.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2024
Keywords
Politeness, Free-standing conversational groups, Humans, Robots, Virtual characters, Trajectory, Group dynamics, social norms
National Category
Computer Systems Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-343213 (URN)10.1145/3613904.3642905 (DOI)2-s2.0-85194833039 (Scopus ID)
Conference
CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’24), Oʻahu, Hawaii, USA, 11-16 May 2024
Note

QC 20240402

Available from: 2024-02-08 Created: 2024-02-08 Last updated: 2024-06-13Bibliographically approved

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Sahba Zojaji-PhD Summary-fulltext(20467 kB)949 downloads
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