Christine Lisetti – Behavioral issues epidemics, can virtual characters come to the rescue?

When: Back to Calendar February 21, 2013 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Where: 366 WVH

With the increasing prevalence of behavioral issues (obesity, alcoholism, substance use), healthcare and medicine have recently focussed on finding health-promoting lifestyle interventions for health and well-being, in addition to their traditional focus on treating contracted diseases.

At the same time, embodied conversational characters (ECAs) are emerging as having the potential to provide natural human-computer interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. intelligent tutoring systems, serious games, and computer-based health promotion interventions.  ECAs dialog and multimodal expressiveness abilities render them innately accessible to interact with – for technical and non-technical users alike.

In this talk we describe some of the promises and challenges of building ECAs who can deliver behavior change interventions.  We discuss the design and implementation of the prototype of an avatar-based health system aimed at increasing people access to an effective evidence-based intervention that supports motivation toward behavior change.  We focus particularly on the need for the ECA to express some level of empathy during these interactions, and present early evaluation results regarding user’s acceptance of the ECA’s, and of the ECA’s perceived empathic ability.


Christine Laetitia Lisetti is a faculty at Florida International University in the School of Computing and Information Sciences. She conducts research in Affective Computing, which lies at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in Computer Science, of emotion and personality theories in Psychology, and of social interaction in Communication.  Her long-term research goal is to create digital and engaging socially intelligent agents who can interact naturally with humans via expressive multi-modalities in a variety of contexts involving socio-emotional content (e.g. empathetic health coach, social companion, cyber-therapy, intelligent tutoring system, serious/educational game). She is on the founding Editorial Board of the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, and recently, she has become interested in applying Affective Computing techniques to develop novel applications in health informatics for health promotion and health interventions.

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