Dynamic man-computer interactions as a paradigm in emotion research

(FNRS 11-39551.93/11-049629.96)

Notwithstanding the increase of empirical studies of emotion, it remains difficult to transfer the results found in the laboratory to spontaneous real emotional experiences; experiences that are mainly evoked in dynamically changing interactive contexts. At least in part, this difficulty is caused by the artificial separation of intrinsically related psychological processes - like emotion, cognition, and behavior - in different research disciplines. A further problem is that current methods and experimental settings do not automatically enable us to cope with the complexity of human reasoning, feeling and acting. To overcome some of these shortcomings, we propose a more ecological approach, i.e., to analyze these processes jointly in an interactive computer game setting (a micro world scenario). The creation of the micro world scenario is based on theoretical predictions concerning emotion antecedent appraisal and emotion specific action tendencies as postulated by different cognitive emotion theorists (e.g., Scherer, 1984; Frijda, 1986).

This objective is part of the more general research goal towards modeling emotion, cognition, and behavior as situated processes in a dynamically changing environment. We refer to this as modeling a situated emotional problem solver. To accomplish this, the projectís research strategy is to take advantage of methods of Computer Science and AI. We think that AI methods such as computer simulation and synthetic modeling are instrumental to furthering the development of current psychological research, complementing traditional experimental methods. Consequently, this projects follows different branches of theoretical and methodological developments.

Theoretical objectives

    1. The relation between the cognitive evaluation of the situation (appraisal) and the subjective feeling.
    2. The relation between the subjective feeling and the observable expressive behavior, especially facial behavior.
    3. The relation between cognitive evaluation, facial behavior, subjective feeling, action tendencies, and ongoing behavior (game strategies).

Methodological objectives

Approaching these theoretical research goals, several tools and simulation environments have been developed by Thomas Wehrle: More details about the theoretical and methodological objectives can be found on Thomas Wehrle's home page.


Principal researchers: Dr. Thomas Wehrle (email: Thomas.Wehrle@pse.unige.ch) and Dr. Susanne Kaiser (e- mail: Susanne.Kaiser@pse.unige.ch)