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GENDER and HCI - Gender Affordances of Conversational Agents / A. De Angeli (DISI, Università degli Studi di Trento)

29/11/2011 - 10:30
29/11/2011 - 12:30

TITLE: Gender Affordances of Conversational Agents

SEMINAR SERIES: Gender cOnstructions between Sciences and Humanities (GOSH)

SPEAKER: Antonella De Angeli, DISI (università di Trento)

DATE: Thuesday, 29/11/2011, 10.30

PLACE: Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Sala 201, Edificio Nord - via Sommarive 18, Povo (TN)

ABSTRACT: HCI research has started exploring the determinants and consequences of social relationships and interactions with conversational agents. Most of this research has studied how these humanlike interfaces benefit HCI, such as improving trust, learning, and engagement. Relatively little attention has been devoted to the analysis of less savory outcomes, especially such phenomena as user sex talk and foul language. The research takes a first step in filling in this gap by examining the impact of an agent's gender presentation on a full range of speaker behaviors, including sex talk and foul language use. Through computer-mediated discourse analysis, we analyze the interaction logs of a chatterbot that assumed seven different embodiments: three female, three male, and one robotic. We also compare these logs with a purely text-based presentation of gender (one male and one female). We found evidence of significantly more sex talk with agents presenting as female than with agents presenting as male. This finding was expected, given the research in social psychology on gender stereotypes. Both gender presentations, however, drew insults and received sex talk that revolved around the negative sexual stereotypes associated with their respective genders. Other gender stereotypes were also maintained. The results are discussed and interpreted in light of the psychological literature on gender stereotyping. We conclude by calling for a more informed analysis of user interactions that considers the full range of user reactions. We also make a number of recommendations for using sex talk in applications that might benefit people.

Contact: Liria Veronesi ()

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