Injecting Nonverbal Mimicry with Hybrid Avatar-Agent Technologies: A Naïve Approach

, , , , and . Proceedings of the 6th ACM Symposium on Spatial User Interaction (SUI), ACM, (13-14 October 2018)


Humans communicate to a large degree through nonverbal behavior. Nonverbal mimicry, i.e., the imitation of another’s behavior can positively affect the social interactions. In virtual environments, user behavior can be replicated to avatars, and agent behaviors can be artificially constructed. By combining both, hybrid avatar-agent technologies aim at actively mediating virtual communication to foster interpersonal understanding and rapport.We present a naïve prototype, the “Mimicry Injector”, that injects artificial mimicry in real-time virtual interactions. In an evaluation study, two participants were embodied in a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation, and had to perform a negotiation task. Their virtual characters either a) replicated only the original behavior or b) displayed the original behavior plus induced mimicry. We found that most participants did not detect the modification. However, the modification did not have a significant impact on the perception of the communication.

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