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Emotionally Responsive Virtual Counselor for Behavior-Change Health Interventions

Abstract. In this paper, we discuss a novel approach to design an emotionally res- ponsive system in the context of virtual health interventions for behavior change. We describe the system’s design with a focus on enabling a multimodal Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) to deliver the interventions empathetically. This is done by adapting its verbal and non-verbal behavior, in real-time, to those of the clients. Our current approach is based on a successful existing patient-centered in- tervention for behavior change - the Drinker's Check-Up (DCU). Although, the DCU uses a text-only web interface, it has been reported to reduce alcohol con- sumption in problem drinkers. We discuss the results of users' evaluation of the DCU intervention compared to the same intervention delivered with empathic and non-empathic ECAs. Results show that, the empathic virtual counselor has better acceptance than the other two systems.

Reza Amini
Reza Amini
IPsoft
Key research interests:

Affective Computing; Modeling Empathy and Rapport for Virtual Agents; Humanization of Virtual Characters.

Amin2014.pdf — PDF document, 510Kb

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