Affective Conversational Agents: The Role of Personality and Emotion in Spoken Interactions

Affective Conversational Agents: The Role of Personality and Emotion in Spoken Interactions

Zoraida Callejas (University of Granada, Spain), Ramón López-Cózar (University of Granada, Spain), Nieves Ábalos (University of Granada, Spain) and David Griol (Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-617-6.ch009


In this chapter, we revisit the main theories of human emotion and personality and their implications for the development of affective conversational agents. We focus on the role that emotion plays for adapting the agents’ behaviour and how this emotional responsivity can be conveniently modified by rendering a consistent artificial personality. The multiple applications of affective CAs are addressed by describing recent experiences in domains such as pedagogy, computer games, and computer-mediated therapy.
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2 Background: Human Emotion And Personality

Many authors in research fields such as psychology, biology and neurology have proposed different definitions of the term emotion from a diversity of perspectives, each of which has contributed significant insight into the emotion science. A relevant example is Darwin’s evolutional explanation for emotional behaviour (Darwin, 1872), with which he gave evidence of the continuity of emotional expressions from lower animals to humans, and described emotions as being functional to increase the chances of survival. According to Plutchik (2003, chapter 2), one of the implications of these findings is that research in emotion was expanded from the study of subjective feelings to the study of behaviour within a biological and evolutionary context.

Based on the evolutionary perspective, Rolls (2007, chapter 2) states that genes can specify the behaviour of animals by establishing goals instead of responses. According to Rolls, these goals elicit emotions through reward and punisher evaluation or appraisal of stimuli. Due to a process of natural selection, animals have built receptors for certain stimuli in the environment and linked them to responses. Rolls suggests several levels of complexity of such mechanism, in the most complicated, the behaviour of humans is guided by syntactic operations on semantically grounded symbols.

Other authors have adopted a physiological perspective by studying how subjective feelings are temporally related to bodily changes such as heart rate, muscle tension or breathing rate. Some authors, leaded by the seminal work by James (1884), argue that humans feel emotions because they experience bodily changes. According to his theory, it is impossible to feel an emotion without experiencing any physiological change. James’ work was fundamental for the development of studies on autonomic physiological changes in relation to emotion. In Section 4 we will describe several methods for emotion recognition based on such physiological autonomous changes.

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