"Is It Just Me?": Evaluating Attribution of Negative Feedback as a Function of Virtual Instructor's Gender and Proxemics

Feng, D., Jeong, D. C., Kramer, N. C., Miller, L. C. and Marsella, S. (2017) "Is It Just Me?": Evaluating Attribution of Negative Feedback as a Function of Virtual Instructor's Gender and Proxemics. In: AAMAS '17 Proceedings of the 16th Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 8-12 May 2017, ISBN 9781450342391

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Publisher's URL: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3091125.3091240

Abstract

Virtual agents are used in a number of different outcome-based contexts such as physical and mental health, skill-based training, as well as classroom learning and pedagogy. Virtual agents in such applications are largely designed so that they project positive attitude and feedback towards the human participant. Human-human interactions, however, are certainly not exclusively positive in valence. For example, teachers and educators engage in both positive and negative feedback strategies for pedagogical outcomes. While the distinct effects of positive and negative feedback on learning are well established, few studies have attempted to examine the effects of negative feedback across different combinations of instructor's gender and proxemics-based physical behavior. This study explores this very question with a 2 (instructor gender)*2 (proxemic behavior) between subject design. In this experiment, participants (N=63) actively engage in a learning task with a male/female virtual instructor that provides negative feedback while either standing stationary or while physically approaching the participant. Based on the different deliveries of the negative feedback, the study aimed to identify the sources of variations in participant reactions to the negative feedback, namely patterns of attribution and both behavioral and physiological measurements of emotions. The results indicate that participants attribute greater self-blame (internal attribution) for their purported poor performance when interacting with the female virtual instructor than when interacting with the male virtual instructor. Participants also generally exhibited greater positive affect in response to female virtual professors than male virtual professors. These results are highly relevant both to the design of virtual agents as well as to adding to our understanding of the role of gender and behavior in human-human, non-peer interaction.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Additional Information:This research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant FA9550-14-1-0364.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marsella, Professor Stacy and Feng, Dr Dan
Authors: Feng, D., Jeong, D. C., Kramer, N. C., Miller, L. C., and Marsella, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
ISBN:9781450342391

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