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Virtual character personality influences participant attitudes and behavior

Xueni Pan, Mel Slater and I have just published a new paper in Frontiers: Virtual Environments. It looks at the effect of virtual character personality on participants behaviour responses in immersive virtual reality and uses my Piavca animation framework.

From the paper abstract:

We introduce a novel technique for the study of human–virtual character interaction in immersive virtual reality. The human participants verbally administered a standard questionnaire about social anxiety to a virtual female character, which responded to each question through speech and body movements. The purpose was to study the extent to which participants responded differently to characters that exhibited different personalities, even though the verbal content of their answers was always the same. A separate online study provided evidence that our intention to create two different personality types had been successful. In the main between-groups experiment that utilized a Cave system there were 24 male participants, where 12 interacted with a female virtual character portrayed to exhibit shyness and the remaining 12 with an identical but more confident virtual character. Our results indicate that although the content of the verbal responses of both virtual characters was the same, participants showed different subjective and behavioral responses to the two different personalities. In particular participants evaluated the shy character more positively, for example, expressing willingness to spend more time with her. Participants evaluated the confident character more negatively and waited for a significantly longer time to call her back after she had left the scene in order to answer a telephone call. The method whereby participants interviewed the virtual character allowed naturalistic conversation while avoiding the necessity of speech processing and generation, and natural language understanding. It is therefore a useful method for the study of the impact of virtual character personality on participant responses.

The full paper is available online here:

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/frobt.2015.00001/abstract