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On-Demand Virtual Health Counselor for Delivering Behavior-Change Health Interventions

Abstract: In this paper, we discuss a novel approach for the computer-delivery of Brief Motivational Interventions (BMIs) for health behavior change. We describe the basic elements of our system architecture, and focus on enabling a multimodal Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) to deliver the health behavior change interventions empathetically by adapting, in real- time, its verbal and non-verbal communication messages to those of its clients. The designed empathy model integrates a cognitive component and an affective components. We then discuss the evaluation experiment that we designed and conducted to evaluate the impact of empathy model on users’ experience with the empathic character. Results indicate that, in comparison with the non-empathic counselor, the empathic one is better accepted (e.g., more enjoyable, empathizing, engaging, and likable) and some users might be willing to disclose more private information (e.g., drinking habits) to the counselor endowed with empathic abilities than the one without.

Reza Amini
Reza Amini
IPsoft
Key research interests:

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

Amini2013b.pdf — PDF document, 848Kb

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