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Title: Exploring the Social Influence of Virtual Humans Unintentionally Conveying Conflicting Emotions
The expression of human emotion is integral to social interaction, and in virtual reality it is increasingly common to develop virtual avatars that attempt to convey emotions by mimicking these visual and aural cues, i.e. the facial and vocal expressions. However, errors in (or the absence of) facial tracking can result in the rendering of incorrect facial expressions on these virtual avatars. For example, a virtual avatar may speak with a happy or unhappy vocal inflection while their facial expression remains otherwise neutral. In circumstances where there is conflict between the avatar's facial and vocal expressions, it is possible that users will incorrectly interpret the avatar's emotion, which may have unintended consequences in terms of social influence or in terms of the outcome of the interaction. In this paper, we present a human-subjects study (N = 22) aimed at understanding the impact of conflicting facial and vocal emotional expressions. Specifically we explored three levels of emotional valence (unhappy, neutral, and happy) expressed in both visual (facial) and aural (vocal) forms. We also investigate three levels of head scales (down-scaled, accurate, and up-scaled) to evaluate whether head scale affects user interpretation of the conveyed emotion. We find significant effects of different multimodal expressions on happiness and trust perception, while no significant effect was observed for head scales. Evidence from our results suggest that facial expressions have a stronger impact than vocal expressions. Additionally, as the difference between the two expressions increase, the less predictable the multimodal expression becomes. For example, for the happy-looking and happy-sounding multimodal expression, we expect and see high happiness rating and high trust, however if one of the two expressions change, this mismatch makes the expression less predictable. We discuss the relationships, implications, and guidelines for social applications that aim to leverage multimodal social cues.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2023 IEEE Conference Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
571 to 580
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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