Agents and Social Interaction: Insights from Social Psychology

Agents and Social Interaction: Insights from Social Psychology

Joseph C. Bullington (Georgia Southern University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-236-7.ch003
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Social interaction represents a powerful new locus of research in the quest to build more truly human-like artificial agents. The work in this area, as in the field of human computer interaction, generally, is becoming more interdisciplinary in nature. In this spirit, the present chapter will survey concepts and theory from social psychology, a field many researchers may be unfamiliar with. Dennett’s notion of the intentional system will provide some initial grounding for the notion of social interaction, along with a brief discussion of conversational agents. The body of the chapter will then survey the areas of animal behavior and social psychology most relevant to human-agent interaction, concentrating on the areas of interpersonal relations and social perception. Within the area of social perception, the focus will be on the topics of emotion and attribution theory. Where relevant, research in the area of agent-human interaction will be discussed. The chapter will conclude with a brief survey of the use of agent-based modeling and simulation in social theory. The future looks very promising for researchers in this area; the complex problems involved in developing artificial agents who have mind-like attributes will require an interdisciplinary effort.
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As our technologies become more interactive in nature, the necessity of building in a social component has become more important than ever. The present chapter will review and discuss a variety of theories that have been used to guide academic research and development in the area of multi-agent interaction. Of particular interest are those models specifying an underlying theory of the character and development of social interaction, as well as those that have focused attention on the affective components of human-agent and agent-agent interaction.

As originally conceived (e.g., Maes, 1995), software agents were to carry out tasks on our behalf such as seeking out information that we might be interested in, or finding the best prices for products, or even carrying out negotiations on our behalf. The notion that we would have a relationship with an agent and how that relationship would unfold, and even how the agent could be designed with social capabilities in mind seemed somewhat far removed from the issues related to the design of an autonomous search agent.

In order to develop more life-like agents that are capable of interacting in a believable way with humans, it is necessary to imbue them with some of the same attributes that are thought to underlie human social interaction. Otherwise, the agents may be thought of by users as dumb or simply annoying (e.g., the Microsoft Office Paperclip). The development of simulations of an agent’s interactions with humans (or with other agents) thus could be guided by some underlying theory of social interaction. If so, then which theories of human social interaction, particularly theories of mind and social cognition, could play a role in the development of multi-agent systems and in human-agent systems? The overall goal of this chapter is to introduce selected theory and research in the area of social psychology to others who may not be familiar with the concepts and theory in this field. Thus, though portions of the chapter will review instances where social psychological concepts have been applied to actual systems, the focus will be on surveying concepts and ideas, not on the practical application of such ideas to system development.

The chapter will begin with a look at the question of what guides our social interactions with others, whether they are human or artificial. Dennett’s (1978, 1989) concept of the intentional stance will be examined in some detail, and will be used as a basis for understanding interaction at a basic level. The search for relevant concepts and research findings that could be applied to deepen our understanding of agent interaction will continue with a review of selected concepts from the ethological and animal behavior literatures, including the concepts of fixed action pattern, imprinting, and imitation.

The next section will include a brief review of theories and evidence from social psychology that are applicable to multi-agent systems research. Social psychology represents a rich source of theory and insights into the nature of social interaction in multi-agent systems, and the review will include the areas of social perception and impression formation, selected portions of the interpersonal relationship and social exchange literatures, as well as examples of research in the agent-human literature that have built on these underlying ideas. The aim here is not to provide a comprehensive review of these research areas, but to point out their relevance as we go forward with research in the field of agent interaction, particularly agent-human interaction.

Affective components have played a guiding role in research in the area of human-agent interaction, as exemplified in the work of Rosalind Picard and her group at MIT. Thus, Picard’s work and its application to the area of social interaction will be discussed, along with that of Cynthia Breazeal and her efforts to build interactive robots.

The final section of the chapter will include a brief survey of the work in agent-based modeling, as well as a look into the future of this research. Of particular interest is the potential contribution this research can make to our overall understanding of social interaction. For example, can it provide confirming evidence for models of social behavior emerging from the human experimental social and developmental laboratories, as well as ethnographic and field research? Also, what types of interactive systems will emerge from this research and how will they change the way we use computing technology?

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Georgi Stojanov
Chapter 1
R. Keith Sawyer
Sociology should be the foundational science of social emergence. But to date, sociologists have neglected emergence, and studies of emergence are... Sample PDF
The Science of Social Emergence
Chapter 2
Christopher Goldspink, Robert Kay
This chapter critically examines our theoretical understanding of the dialectical relationship between emergent social structures and agent... Sample PDF
Agent Cognitive Capabilities and Orders of Social Emergence
Chapter 3
Joseph C. Bullington
Social interaction represents a powerful new locus of research in the quest to build more truly human-like artificial agents. The work in this area... Sample PDF
Agents and Social Interaction: Insights from Social Psychology
Chapter 4
M. Afzal Upal
This chapter will critically review existing approaches to the modeling transmission of cultural information and advocate a new approach based on a... Sample PDF
Predictive Models of Cultural Information Transmission
Chapter 5
Jorge A. Romero
Despite the popularity of agents for the information technology infrastructure, questions remain because it is not clear what do e-business agents... Sample PDF
Interaction of Agent in E-Business: A Look at Different Sources
Chapter 6
Adam J. Conover
This chapter presents a description of ongoing experimental research into the emergent properties of multi-agent communication in “temporally... Sample PDF
A Simulation of Temporally Variant Agent Interaction via Passive Inquiry
Chapter 7
Richard Schilling
This chapter presents a generalized messaging infrastructure that can be used for distributed agent systems. The principle of agent feedback... Sample PDF
Agent Feedback Messaging: A Messaging Infrastructure for Distributed Message Delivery
Chapter 8
Yu Zhang, Mark Lewis, Christine Drennon, Michael Pellon, Coleman
Multi-agent systems have been used to model complex social systems in many domains. The entire movement of multi-agent paradigm was spawned, at... Sample PDF
Modeling Cognitive Agents for Social Systems and a Simulation in Urban Dynamics
Chapter 9
Scott Watson, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Wan Ching (Steve) Ho, Rafal Dawidowicz
This chapter discusses certain issues in the development of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) populated by autonomous social agents, with... Sample PDF
Developing Relationships Between Autonomous Agents: Promoting Pro-Social Behaviour Through Virtual Learning Environments Part I
Chapter 10
Martin Takác
In this chapter, we focus on the issue of understanding in various types of agents. Our main goal is to build up notions of meanings and... Sample PDF
Construction of Meanings in Biological and Artificial Agents
Chapter 11
Myriam Abramson
In heterogeneous multi-agent systems, where human and non-human agents coexist, intelligent proxy agents can help smooth out fundamental... Sample PDF
Training Coordination Proxy Agents Using Reinforcement Learning
Chapter 12
Deborah V. Duong
The first intelligent agent social model, in 1991, used tags with emergent meaning to simulate the emergence of institutions based on the principles... Sample PDF
The Generative Power of Signs: The Importance of the Autonomous Perception of Tags to the Strong Emergence of Institutions
Chapter 13
Josefina Sierra, Josefina Santibáñez
This chapter addresses the problem of the acquisition of the syntax of propositional logic. An approach based on general purpose cognitive... Sample PDF
Propositional Logic Syntax Acquisition Using Induction and Self-Organisation
Chapter 14
Giovanni Vincenti, James Braman
Emotions influence our everyday lives, guiding and misguiding us. They lead us to happiness and love, but also to irrational acts. Artificial... Sample PDF
Hybrid Emotionally Aware Mediated Multiagency
Chapter 15
Samuel G. Collins, Goran Trajkovski
In this chapter, we give an overview of the results of a Human-Robot Interaction experiment, in a near zerocontext environment. We stimulate the... Sample PDF
Mapping Hybrid Agencies Through Multiagent Systems
Chapter 16
Scott Watson, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Wan Ching (Steve) Ho, Rafal Dawidowicz
This chapter is a continuation from Part I, which has described contemporary psychological descriptions of bullying in primary schools and two... Sample PDF
Developing Relationships Between Autonomous Agents: Promoting Pro-Social Behaviour Through Virtual Learning Environments Part II
Chapter 17
Mario Paolucci, Rosaria Conte
This chapter is focused on social reputation as a fundamental mechanism in the diffusion and possibly evolution of socially desirable behaviour... Sample PDF
Reputation: Social Transmission for Partner Selection
Chapter 18
Adam J. Conover
This chapter concludes a two part series which examines the emergent properties of multi-agent communication in “temporally asynchronous”... Sample PDF
A Simulation of Temporally Variant Agent Interaction via Belief Promulgation
Chapter 19
David B. Newlin
Following the discovery in Rhesus monkeys of “mirror neurons” that fire during both execution and observation of motor behavior, human studies have... Sample PDF
The Human Mirror Neuron System
Chapter 20
Eric Baumer, Bill Tomlinson
This chapter presents an argument that the process of emergence is the converse of the process of abstraction. Emergence involves complex behavior... Sample PDF
Relationships Between the Processes of Emergence and Abstraction in Societies
Chapter 21
Vern R. Walker
In modern legal systems, a large number of autonomous agents can achieve reasonably fair and accurate decisions in tens of thousands of legal cases.... Sample PDF
Emergent Reasoning Structures in Law
Chapter 22
Theodor Richardson
Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) are designed to differentiate malicious traffic, from normal traf- fic, on a network system to detect the... Sample PDF
Agents in Security: A Look at the Use of Agents in Host-Based Monitoring and Protection and Network Intrusion Detection
Chapter 23
Michael J. North, Thomas R. Howe, Nick Collier, Eric Tatara, Jonathan Ozik, Charles Macal
Search has been recognized as an important technology for a wide range of software applications. Agentbased modelers often face search challenges... Sample PDF
Search as a Tool for Emergence
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