Dynamic man-computer interactions as a paradigm in emotion research
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;
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.
This research paradigm allows one to study the ongoing process of situated
emotional problem solving as it occurs. Therefore, the analysis of this
process should help to improve our knowledge about:
The relation between the cognitive evaluation of the situation (appraisal)
and the subjective feeling.
The relation between the subjective feeling and the observable expressive
behavior, especially facial behavior.
The relation between cognitive evaluation, facial behavior, subjective
feeling, action tendencies, and ongoing behavior (game strategies).
The main goal of the project is to use the empirical data to improve and
develop concise and explicit theoretical models of the components that
are involved in situated emotional problem solving.
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.
The Facial Expression Analysis Tool (FEAT)
is a tool for the automatic coding of facial expressions.
The Facial Action Composing Environment (FACE)
is a tool for creating 3D animated facial expressions in real-time, including
head- and eye-movements.
The Geneva Appraisal Manipulation Environment (GAME)
is a tool for inducing and measuring situated emotional problem solving
in interactive computer games. This tool also provides modules for the
computerized analysis of the subjective experience and the cognitive evaluation
of the situation measured using on-line questionnaires. Additionally, the
data of the ongoing behavior (game strategies recorded in a protocol file)
and the automatically coded facial expressions are analyzed.
The Geneva Appraisal Theory Environment (GATE)
is a software package that allows the simulation of different appraisal
theories as black box models. The purpose of black box models is
to produce outcomes or decisions that are maximally similar to those resulting
from the operation of naturally occurring systems, disregarding the processes
by which these outcomes are attained as well as the structures that are
The Autonomous Agent Modeling Environment (AAME)
is a simulation environment for process models. The purpose of process
modeling is to attempt to simulate naturally occurring processes using
hypothesized underlying mechanisms.
Principal researchers: Dr. Thomas
Wehrle (email: Thomas.Wehrle@pse.unige.ch)
Susanne Kaiser (e- mail: Susanne.Kaiser@pse.unige.ch)