Negative feedback in your face: examining the effects of proxemics and gender on learning

Jeong, D. C., Feng, D., Krämer, N. C., Miller, L. C. and Marsella, S. (2017) Negative feedback in your face: examining the effects of proxemics and gender on learning. In: 17th International Intelligent Virtual Agents Conference (IVA 2017), Stockholm, Sweden, 27-30 Aug 2017, pp. 170-183. ISBN 9783319674001 (doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-67401-8_19)

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While applications of virtual agents in training and pedagogy have largely concentrated on positive valenced environments and interactions, human-human interactions certainly also involve a fair share of negativity that is worth exploring in virtual environments. Further, in natural human interaction as well as in virtual spaces, physical actions arguably account for a great deal of variance in our representations of social concepts (e.g., emotions, attitudes). Proxemics, specifically, is a physical cue that can elicit varying perceptions of a social interaction. In the current paper, we explore the combined and individual effects of proxemic distance and gender in a specifically negative feedback educational context. We pursue this with a 2 (Proxemic Distance) × 2 (Virtual Instructor Gender) between subject design, where participants actively engage in a learning task with a virtual instructor that provides harsh, negative feedback. While this study demonstrates some anticipated negative reactions to negative feedback from a close distance, such as external attribution of failure, we also observe some unexpected positive outcomes to this negative feedback. Specifically, negative feedback from a close distance has raises positive affect and effort, particularly among male participants interacting with a male virtual professor. Objective measures (head movement data) corroborate these same-gender effects as participants demonstrate more engagement when interacting with a virtual professor of their same gender. The results of the present study have broad implications for the design of intelligent virtual agents for pedagogy and mental health outcomes.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Additional Information:First published in Lecture Notes in Computer Science 10498: 170-183
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marsella, Professor Stacy
Authors: Jeong, D. C., Feng, D., Krämer, N. C., Miller, L. C., and Marsella, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
ISSN (Online):0302-9743
Published Online:26 August 2017

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