Unfolding Commitments Management: A Systemic View of Emotions

Unfolding Commitments Management: A Systemic View of Emotions

Michel Aubé (Université de Sherbrooke, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-354-8.ch012
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Abstract

The Commitment Theory of Emotions is issued from a careful scrutiny of emotional behavior in humans and animals, as reported in the literature on Evolutionary Biology, Neurosciences and the Psychology of emotions. Emotions are viewed as a special layer of processes, wired upon needs and instincts, and dealing mainly with nurturance, social bonding and cooperative behavior, especially between kin and relatives. As every other motivational system, they operate so as to manage resources critical for survival and reproduction. The peculiar resources emotions do manage are commitments, understood as the predispositions of a given individual to help others and collaborate with them in a reciprocal manner. This view clarifies considerably the interactions emotions entertain with a variety of modules involved in their operation, from the detection of antecedents in perceptual or memory systems, to the elicitation of the appropriate emotion, to the execution of the corresponding script, to the expression of emotions as the typical outcome of emotional episodes. The flow of processing is continuously modulated by affective states of the organisms and by other motivational systems. The chapter expounds the operation of each module as well as their interactions with each other. It concludes that successful implementation of emotions in artificial systems will have to rest upon the specifications of complex and realistic models of the kind presented.
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Introduction

Why would one dream of designing animats endowed with the full capacity for emotions? What interest would there be, besides the mythological strive that motivated Victor Frankenstein in playing God? What gain would there be in having emotional machines? Would this make them more functional and more efficient, better tools for human use? And if so, how would it be possible to implement them into the fabric of physical systems?

In a sense, evolution has already provided some lines of answer for the engineer raising these questions. Indeed, the more complex an animal’s life appears to be, the more likely is it to evidence emotional behavior. For one thing, the processes underlying these behaviors are associated with the functioning of the limbic system, which is thought to have emerged during the transitory period from Reptiles to Birds and Mammals (MacLean, 1993; Panksepp, 1998). Hence, it is believed that there is no emotion as such operating in organisms below this level. On the other hand, as is clear with Primates and especially Humans, the more rational a species gets to be, the more emotional it gets as well (Damasio, 1994; Hebb, 1949; Scherer, 1994).

This suggests that emotions developed hand in hand with other superior capacities of the mind, and may be intricately related with the operation of these capacities. To make this statement quite concrete, try figure whether someone would take the risk of letting of an emotionless assistant handle one’s valuable business. It is actually estimated that over a third of paid work in the United States depends heavily upon using and managing one’s emotions in ways appropriate to the job requirements and the clients’ demands (Hochschild, 1979, 1983). To take one step further, think about putting the delicate and difficult task of raising one’s kids into the hands of an emotionless caretaker.

Hence there would be much benefit in better understanding what emotions are for, and how they have been designed through natural selection to do their job. Since they have not been selected in all species, it may help to ask what particular class of problems those that have emotions are confronted with, and how these processes operate so as to help solve them. It is our contention that a satisfying implementation of synthetic emotions has to derive from a robust model of the functions of emotions, much inspired from what is revealed in Evolutionary Biology, Cognitive Psychology, Neurosciences, and Cultural Anthropology. The model should also expound as precisely as possible the dynamics of emotions, specifying the interactions with various other mental processes that modulate their operation. The aim of this chapter is to unfold the Commitment Theory of Emotions (Aubé, 1997a, 1997b, 1998, 2001, 2005; Aubé & Senteni, 1995, 1996a, 1996b) that has been developed precisely with these design preoccupations in mind.

We will start by recalling the basic tenets of the theory. Parts of these have been published here and there, but nowhere has there been a systematic presentation of the relations between all parts. Hence we will expose here a more complete model including all the modules that seem to be involved as emotion episodes unfold, and we will proceed to expound the interactions we find mandatory between them. This will lead us to specify:

  • 1.

    The kind of events that typically trigger emotions (the antecedents of emotions in the INPUT module; the THRESHOLD device for activation to be launched);

  • 2.

    The relations between emotions and other AFFECTIVE STATES (such as moods, temperament and traits, or emotional disorders);

  • 3.

    The relations with other MOTIVATIONAL SYSTEMS (such as needs, social motivations, or cognitive motivations);

  • 4.

    The way the disturbing events that trigger emotions are handled (the ACTIVATION module; the ELICITATION structure for emotions);

  • 5.

    The content of the data bases that nurture the underlying processes (the SCRIPTS associated with each emotion; an ordered list of one’s COMMITMENTS);

  • 6.

    The typical way emotion episodes are resolved (the EXPRESSION module).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Elicitation Structure: In nurturing species, commitments are vital resources whose shortening or replenishment should often be managed with emergency. As control systems designed to regulate commitments variations, emotions are indeed typically triggered very quickly, in matter of milliseconds. This requires that the proper operator be identified easily, depending upon the particulars of the commitment favored or threatened. The elicitation structure is a decision matrix that specifies the family of emotions best suited to handle the situation at hands by combining the values from three dimensions: valence (gain or loss in commitments), agency (responsibility attributed to self, others or no one) and certainty (variation certain or uncertain).

Emotion Scripts: For emotions to do their job in managing commitments that bind several agents altogether, there has to be some regularities so that similar events are likely to evoke the same family of emotions in different individuals, trigger a comparable set of reactions and resort to a common emotional language so as to convey the adjustment that is mandatory. Emotion scripts thus register in memory the prototypical unfolding of emotional episodes across individuals. Many researchers in the field believe that they develop from an innate universal core that is shared across cultures and even related species.

Commitments: Commitments are kind of contracts or conventions that bind two or more agents in a cooperative unit. For their being operative, they have to be clearly represented in each partner’s brain. They should be seen as dynamic entities capable of monitoring incoming events and of detecting those that bear impact upon their being threatened or strengthened. They are essentially created, modified or destroyed through the operation of various emotions. Since they reside in the minds of the partners involved in them, they can be transformed only through acts of communication, which explain why emotion unfolding relies so heavily upon their expression.

Motivational Systems: Motivation is implemented in the brain through various systems dedicated to resource management and regulation. They are typically arranged in control loop circuitry, and protection from loss or progress towards replenishment are monitored in terms of pain and pleasure gradients. Needs (such as hunger, thirst or fatigue) and emotions (such as anger, joy or fear) are the ones that have been the most extensively studied so far, but it is believed that there are a few more. For instance, on the cognitive side, setting a goal typically raises a drive to organize one’s behavior so as to make progress towards it. On the social side, life in small groups is also much determined by the behaviors of others through such phenomena as imitation, fashion, influence or manipulation.

Affective States: Emotional episodes are thought to be rather short in duration, in the order of seconds or minutes. Certain mental states, such as moods, temperaments or emotional disorders, can nevertheless augment the propensity that a given emotion be triggered and that it lasted longer. They could result from circumstancial causes, as in moods, when there has been recurrent activation of the same family of emotions in a brief period of time, but they could also be more idiosyncratic, as in temperaments or traits. Emotional disorders are more complex and could depend upon life events as well as upon personal factors. All affective states interact with emotions, bear an impact upon their being triggered or not, and generally modulate the unfolding of emotional episodes.

Emotions: Emotions constitute an important subset of motivational systems. They are triggered by various antecedents that typically involve gain or loss, threat to one’s stock of resources or opportunity to get new ones. In the present model, these resources are viewed as second-order, in the sense that they refer to those that could be acquired through the action of other agents well disposed to provide them. While needs manage direct access to first-order resources such as food, water or shelter, emotions provide access through the intervention of other agents, such as parents nurturing their offspring. The critical point here is that the resources that emotions manage are not so much the agents themselves as their willingness to provide the desired access or protection. This predisposition is called commitment in the model. Emotions are thus viewed as commitment operators that play their role through communicative acts between committed partners.

Ontology: Ontology refers to the set of characteristics that specifies a certain class of individuals. For emotions to play their part in regulating social bonding and cooperation, it is required that the individuals involved shared a common ontology, so they be affected similarly by the same events, they registered the commitment that binds them in similar form, they attributed a close enough meaning to a given expression and felt compelled to adjust the commitments in the way it was expected from the message conveyed. It is likely that the evolution of emotions and their expression from Mammals to Primates to Humans laid the basic foundations of that kind of shared ontology.

Expression of Emotions: Expression seems tightly related to the operation of emotions and has always occupied a large part of the researches conducted about them. Control and suppression of expression is indeed related to the inhibition of the feeling itself, as if it were an integral part of the emotional process. In the theory, this phenomenon is explained by the fact that expression is the very mean by which emotions play their part in commitments management. This rests on the principle that commitments are located in the partners’ brains, and can only be modified through interactions and acts of communication between them.

Motivation: Motivation is a theoretical construct that is used in Psychology as the analogue of the concept of force in Physics. It is evoked to explain any significant change of behavior or of persistence in spite of fatigue or obstacles. Motivation essentially has to do with resource management: when vital resources are at stake, an individual gets motivated to behave in ways that raise his chances to obtain the resources, or to prevent the loss of the ones that have already been acquired.

Antecedents of Emotions: Antecedents are part of the particular script attached to a given family of emotion. They refer to the characteristics of events that are most likely to evoke the emotion, such as loss of close kin for sadness, anticipated threat for fear or transgression for anger. They are used in the form of social affordances by the input module to detect variations in commitments that are significant enough to require the operation of emotion handlers.

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Craig DeLancey
Preface
Jordi Vallverdú, David Casacuberta
Chapter 1
Oscar Deniz, Javier Lorenzo, Mario Hernández, Modesto Castrillón
Social intelligence seems to obviously require emotions. People have emotions, recognize them in others and also express them. A wealth of... Sample PDF
Emotional Modeling in an Interactive Robotic Head
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Chapter 2
Cyril Laurier, Perfecto Herrera
Creating emotionally sensitive machines will significantly enhance the interaction between humans and machines. In this chapter we focus on enabling... Sample PDF
Automatic Detection of Emotion in Music: Interaction with Emotionally Sensitive Machines
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Chapter 3
Christoph Bartneck, Michael J. Lyons
The human face plays a central role in most forms of natural human interaction so we may expect that computational methods for analysis of facial... Sample PDF
Facial Expression Analysis, Modeling and Synthesis: Overcoming the Limitations of Artificial Intelligence with the Art of the Soluble
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Chapter 4
Sajal Chandra Banik, Keigo Watanabe, Maki K. Habib, Kiyotaka Izumi
Multi-robot team work is necessary for complex tasks which cannot be performed by a single robot. To get the required performance and reliability... Sample PDF
Multirobot Team Work with Benevolent Characters: The Roles of Emotions
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Chapter 5
Matthias Scheutz, Paul Schermerhorn
Effective decision-making under real-world conditions can be very difficult as purely rational methods of decision-making are often not feasible or... Sample PDF
Affective Goal and Task Selection for Social Robots
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Chapter 6
Christopher P. Lee-Johnson, Dale A. Carnegie
The hypothesis that artificial emotion-like mechanisms can improve the adaptive performance of robots and intelligent systems has gained... Sample PDF
Robotic Emotions: Navigation with Feeling
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Chapter 7
C. Gros
All self-active living beings need to solve the motivational problem—the question of what to do at any moment of their life. For humans and... Sample PDF
Emotions, Diffusive Emotional Control and the Motivational Problem for Autonomous Cognitive Systems
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Chapter 8
Bruce J. MacLennan
This chapter addresses the “Hard Problem” of consciousness in the context of robot emotions. The Hard Problem, as defined by Chalmers, refers to the... Sample PDF
Robots React, but Can They Feel?
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Chapter 9
Mercedes García-Ordaz, Rocío Carrasco-Carrasco, Francisco José Martínez-López
It is contended here that the emotional elements and features of human reasoning should be taken into account when designing the personality of... Sample PDF
Personality and Emotions in Robotics from the Gender Perspective
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Chapter 10
Antoni Gomila, Alberto Amengual
In this chapter we raise some of the moral issues involved in the current development of robotic autonomous agents. Starting from the connection... Sample PDF
Moral Emotions for Autonomous Agents
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Chapter 11
Pietro Cipresso, Jean-Marie Dembele, Marco Villamira
In this work, we present an analytical model of hyper-inflated economies and develop a computational model that permits us to consider expectations... Sample PDF
An Emotional Perspective for Agent-Based Computational Economics
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Chapter 12
Michel Aubé
The Commitment Theory of Emotions is issued from a careful scrutiny of emotional behavior in humans and animals, as reported in the literature on... Sample PDF
Unfolding Commitments Management: A Systemic View of Emotions
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Chapter 13
Sigerist J. Rodríguez, Pilar Herrero, Olinto J. Rodríguez
Today, realism and coherence are highly searched qualities in agent’s behavior; but these qualities cannot be achieved completely without... Sample PDF
A Cognitive Appraisal Based Approach for Emotional Representation
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Chapter 14
Clément Raïevsky, François Michaud
Emotion plays several important roles in the cognition of human beings and other life forms, and is therefore a legitimate inspiration for providing... Sample PDF
Emotion Generation Based on a Mismatch Theory of Emotions for Situated Agents
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Chapter 15
Artificial Surprise  (pages 267-291)
Luis Macedo, Amilcar Cardoso, Rainer Reisenzein, Emiliano Lorini
This chapter reviews research on computational models of surprise. Part 1 begins with a description of the phenomenon of surprise in humans, reviews... Sample PDF
Artificial Surprise
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Chapter 16
Tom Adi
A new theory of emotions is derived from the semantics of the language of emotions. The sound structures of 36 Old Arabic word roots that express... Sample PDF
A Theory of Emotions Based on Natural Language Semantics
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Chapter 17
Huma Shah, Kevin Warwick
The Turing Test, originally configured as a game for a human to distinguish between an unseen and unheard man and woman, through a text-based... Sample PDF
Emotion in the Turing Test: A Downward Trend for Machines in Recent Loebner Prizes
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Chapter 18
Félix Francisco Ramos Corchado, Héctor Rafael Orozco Aguirre, Luis Alfonso Razo Ruvalcaba
Emotions play an essential role in the cognitive processes of an avatar and are a crucial element for modeling its perception, learning, decision... Sample PDF
Artificial Emotional Intelligence in Virtual Creatures
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Chapter 19
Sarantos I. Psycharis
In our study we collected data with respect to cognitive variables (learning outcome), metacognitive indicators (knowledge about cognition and... Sample PDF
Physics and Cognitive-Emotional-Metacognitive Variables: Learning Performance in the Environment of CTAT
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Chapter 20
Anthony G. Francis Jr., Manish Mehta, Ashwin Ram
Believable agents designed for long-term interaction with human users need to adapt to them in a way which appears emotionally plausible while... Sample PDF
Emotional Memory and Adaptive Personalities
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Chapter 21
Dorel Gorga, Daniel K. Schneider
The purpose of this contribution is to discuss conceptual issues and challenges related to the integration of emotional agents in the design of... Sample PDF
Computer-Based Learning Environments with Emotional Agents
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Chapter 22
Emotional Ambient Media  (pages 443-459)
Artur Lugmayr, Tillmann Dorsch, Pabo Roman Humanes
The “medium is the message”: nowadays the medium as such is non-distinguishable from its presentation environment. However, what is the medium in an... Sample PDF
Emotional Ambient Media
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Chapter 23
Jordi Vallverdú, David Casacuberta
During the previous stage of our research we developed a computer simulation (called ‘The Panic Room’ or, more simply, ‘TPR’) dealing with synthetic... Sample PDF
Modelling Hardwired Synthetic Emotions: TPR 2.0
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Chapter 24
Cecile K.M. Crutzen, Hans-Werner Hein
A vision of future daily life is explored in Ambient Intelligence (AmI). It follows the assumption that information technology should disappear into... Sample PDF
Invisibility and Visibility: The Shadows of Artificial Intelligence
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