TR#538: Computers that Recognise and Respond to User Emotion: Theoretical and Practical Implications

Rosalind W. Picard and Jonathan Klein

To appear in: Interacting with Computers

Prototypes of interactive computer systems have been built that can begin to detect and label aspects of human emotional expression, and that respond to users experiencing frustration and other negative emotions with emotionally supportive interactions, demonstrating components of human skills such as active listening, empathy, and sympathy. These working systems support the prediction that a computer can begin to undo some of the negative feelings it causes by helping a user manage his or her emotional state. This paper clarifies the philosophy of this new approach to human-computer interaction: deliberately recognising and responding to an individual user's emotions in ways that help users meet their needs. We define user needs in a broader perspective than has been hitherto discussed in the HCI community, to include emotional and social needs, and examine technology's emerging capability to address and support such needs. We raise and discuss potential concerns and objections regarding this technology, and describe several opportunities for future work.

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