Skip to content →

Shame and Virtual Characters

Are we ashamed in front of a computer, too?A comparison of shame sensations in the presence of virtual characters and humans
Bachelor thesis written by Mirella Scholtes

“What kind of outfit is that? Somehow it doesn’t really fit you.” What if you heard this in a job interview? You would probably be ashamed. But what if your interviewer was a virtual character? Most people react like “Why should I be ashamed of that thing?” since we know shame only from embarrassing situations with other humans. Findings of other emotions and social behavior towards computers already exist. But shame is considered to be highly intersubjective. 

In an experiment Ms. Scholtes observed nonverbal shame signals in a job interview roleplay which contained shame triggering situations. Regardless of whether the interviewer was a human or a human-like virtual character the interviewees showed shame signals. 

The knowledge that such highly interpersonal emotion can occur in a human-computer-interaction opens a whole new set of options for the usage and improvement of virtual characters.