Testing the Acceptability of Social Support Agents in Online Communities
This paper describes the first steps towards development and evaluation of an ‘artificial friend’, i.e., an intelligent agent that provides support via text messages in social media in order to alleviate the stress that users experience as a result of everyday problems. The agent consists of three main components: (1) a module that processes text messages based on text mining and classifies them into categories of problems, (2) a module that selects appropriate support strategies based on a validated psychological model of emotion regulation, and (3) a module that generates appropriate responses based on the output of the first two modules. The application has been tested in a pilot study involving 33 participants that were asked to interact with different variants of the agent via the social network Telegram. The results provide hints that the agent is appreciated over a baseline version that generates random support messages, but also point at some possibilities to further improve the agent.
KeywordsSocial media Empathic agents Chatbots Pilot study Text mining Emotion regulation
Lenin Medeiros’ stay at Vrije Universtiteit Amsterdam was funded by the Brazilian Science without Borders program. This work was realized with the support from CNPq, National Council for Scientific and Technological Development - Brazil, through a scholarship with reference number 235134/2014-7.
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