Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Put on a happy face: Happy digital characters sell products better than sad ones

20.03.2007
Even in the digital world, people respond to the expression of a computerized face.

New Ohio State University research suggests that the simulated emotions of digital characters on web sites might have a real impact on the potential customers that view and interact with them.

The study, appearing in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, found that digital characters might be better merchants if they act consistently happy, even if the products they're selling—such as novels—are heart-wrenchingly sad.

Li Gong , an assistant professor of communication who conducted the research, believes his study of digital characters is important for many applications, especially electronic commerce, learning, and entertainment.

Many Web sites feature digital human-like characters, also called avatars or agents. These digital humans can help put a face on Web sites that sell products. Although the characters can “read” text with a certain emotion, such as happy or sad, they can't automatically detect emotion from sentence to sentence with today's technology. And that can affect how well they perform..

Gong's research suggests people are more influenced by happy characters.

Gong believes the work might also significantly impact the computer gaming industry, which uses countless computer characters. “People playing these games want characters to have emotion,” he said. Gong believes the explanation for this desire is that “emotion is an indispensable element in human communication” and is becoming more essential as the use of digital characters grows.

The research involved the emotionally expressive character called “ Baldi ,” an animated human face who can also talk using text-to-speech software. Baldi, created by the Perceptual Science Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz, can synchronize its lips perfectly to a passage of text while reading aloud in a way that conveys a specific emotion.

In this study, one “sad” version of Baldi consistently frowned and sounded sad while reading both sad and happy book reviews for participants. Another “happy” version always smiled and sounded happy while reading both happy and sad book reviews for other participants. The happy Baldi spoke quickly with a high voice and with more range in pitch while the sad version spoke in a lower, slower tone with little change in pitch.

When it came to having Baldi read reviews, Gong found study participants preferred the “happy” version compared to the “sad” talking face, regardless of whether the actual book review was happy or sad.

“When a digital character can't pick up emotional cues in text, it's better to be happy, even if the topic or product is sad,” Gong said. “The age-old idea that positivity outweighs negativity also applies here.”

But the reactions of putting on a happy face didn't end there. “Participants said they were more likely to read a book presented by the happy face compared to the sad one,” Gong said. The participants liked a happy Baldi more, felt it was more competent, and trusted it more than they did a sad version.

Although participants' responses to Baldi were lukewarm overall, Gong believes the happy face's stronger influence is an important finding. “Baldi is a laboratory version that looks quite strange. It's not a customer-friendly version,” Gong said. “But this fact makes the findings more powerful because people should react more strongly to realistic-looking characters you find on the Internet.”

While the research has immediate applications for talking faces, Gong is already looking into other aspects of digital characters.

In an upcoming study to be published in the April issue of Human Communication Research , Gong and Stanford University's Clifford Nass looked more closely at the humanness of characters. The researchers mixed and matched Baldi's face and a real person's videotaped face with a human voice or computerized voice.

The results? Mismatched talking faces—such as a human face speaking with a computerized voice or a computerized face speaking with a human voice—made participants less likely to share personal information compared to consistently matched versions.

As for the future, Gong is currently researching digital humans in the context of race. He believes investigating how people perceive the race of digital characters will shed new light on understanding the strengths and boundaries of racial beliefs and attitudes.

“Digital characters are becoming increasingly important as more kids grow up with computers,” Gong said. “Over a decade ago people started paying attention to digital beings. There's been a strong linear expansion of their use that we can't ignore.”

Li Gong | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>