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How to build a Social Computer SS2020


May 5th: Today will be the Kickoff of the seminar. Be ready on Zoom for 16:15. We are excited to meet you!

April 27th: The kickoff meeting is approaching. We will send some general material about emotions and Affective Computing during this week such that students can already have a look on them. 

March 25th: We want to change the seminar from face-to-face to a complete online seminar. We would like to start this on May 5th. Computer science/Media Informatics etc. students should register at the centralized system for (pro)seminars (coming soon). The psychology students follow the normal procedure in LSF. 

March 12th: Due to the Corona virus, Saarland University postponed the start of the summer term to May 4th. Therefore, the schedule of the seminar will be changed. We will keep you updated!

March 11th: All interested computer science/mediainformatics/cybersecurity/etc. students should come to the kick-off meeting. Depending on the interest, it has to be decided by lot which students will be able to participate in the seminar. 

February 12th: The seminar information is published in LSF

February 5th: This years seminar “How to build a Social Computer?” will start May 5th April 7th 2020! The time slot for the seminar will be Tuesday 14:15 to 15:45. The location is DFKI (D3 2), room Reuse (Main building -2.17).


Computers, mobile phones, and wearables are part of our daily lives. Its user interfaces are designed to interact with facts, e.g. health parameters, documents, etc. – which is sufficient for some applications. But what if a computer system would understand users like human do and adapt to the individual social situation in order to establish a social human-like interaction? Such concepts are highly relevant to social training systems, e.g. virtual job interview training and work-life-balance systems. This interdisciplinary seminar in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence investigates the question „How to make computers social?“. What is social? What concepts, theories help to define being social? How do humans socially communicate? How can this be transferred into a computer model? What is technically feasible? How can this be exploited for social training systems? Relevant concepts and theories will be presented, discussed, and transferred into computer models. Three prototypical interactive social computer applications will be created as proof of concept. Students of Psychology and Computer Science will work together designing, discussing, implementing, and creating an evaluation plan for each application.


In the seminar mixed student teams (computer science and psychology) will work on projects to design, implement and evaluate an affective application. There should be a lively exchange between the two disciplines to in order to create a well thought-out system.

Organisational information



The seminar will be offered as an online seminar. We will have online meetings during the regular time slot on Tuesdays between 14:15 and 15:45 15:30 and 17:45. 

The time slot for the seminar will be Tuesday 14:15 to 15:45. The location is DFKI (D3 2), room Reuse (Main building -2.17).

Don’t miss the general information and requirements. 


In total, maximal 18 students can participate in the seminar. 9 psychology students and 9 computer science students. Psychology students have the usual process for getting into seminars by registering in LSF.  If the interest if higher than the capacity, the lot has to decide. Computer Science students use the Seminar Assignment website by SIC. The ones that have successfully passed the Social Computing Lecture in WS19/20 will have priority. 

Students of psychology obtain 4 ECTS for attending the seminar. 

Students of computer science obtain 7 ECTS for attending the seminar. As usual for computer science, they will be graded. The grading differs this time from the usual grading and includes the implementation and the final report. 


Besides the kickoff meeting, we will have three plenary meetings (all participants, 90min) in which the seminar groups are presenting theirs projects. Between the plenary meetings the students groups are organizing themselves. Individual group meetings (each group, 30min) will happen on a weekly basis. Individual group meetings are meetings of the whole project team with the seminar leaders. We will discuss your ideas, your plans for the presentations, recap presentations and localize problem solutions. The individual group meetings will be during the time slot on Tue between 15:30 and 17:30. The meetings will be held virtually. 


Date Type of meeting Content
May 5th Plenary Meeting 1 Kickoff: OrganizationPresentation of the Projects, Group Assignment
May 12th Individual group meeting Project Report, Plans, Questions 

May 19th

Individual group meeting Project Report, Plans, Questions 
May 26th Individual group meeting One week before the first presentation, we will discuss your plans. Please hand in the slides that you want to present by Sunday. We want to give you the opportunity to get feedback.
June 2nd Plenary meeting 2 1. Presentation: Ideas (Theoretical background, Project idea, Project planning)
June 9th Individual group meeting One week after the first presentation, we will discuss how you implement the results of the feedback and discussions from plenary meeting 1.
June 16th Individual group meeting Project Report, Plans, Questions 
June 23th Individual group meeting Project Report, Plans, Questions 
June 30th Individual group meeting Project Report, Plans, Questions 
July 7th Individual group meeting One week before the second presentation, we will discuss your plans. Please hand in the slides that you want to present by Sunday. We want to give you the opportunity to get feedback.
July 14th Plenary meeting 3 2. Presentation: Final Application (Theoretical background, Implementation, Study Design, Take home message)



Virtual agents with personality 

Identity and awareness

Mobile Biofeedback Training



How to give a great research talk (Youtube, Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research Cambridge)

General Literature

Barrett, L. F., Adolphs, R., Marsella, S., Martinez, A. M., & Pollak, S. D. (2019). Emotional Expressions Reconsidered: Challenges to Inferring Emotion From Human Facial Movements. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 20(1), 1–68.

Barrett, L. F. (2019) Keynote at 8th International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII)

Ekman, P. (2017). The Ekman’s Atlas of Emotions. 

Schneeberger, T., Gebhard, P., Baur, T., & André, E. (2019). PARLEY: A transparent virtual social agent training interface. International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, Proceedings IUI, 35–36. 

Tao, J., & Tan, T. (2005, October). Affective computing: A review. In International Conference on Affective computing and intelligent interaction (pp. 981-995). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. 


VisualSceneMaker, an authoring tool for Virtual Characters.

ALMA, a computational model of affect that implements the appraisal theory of emotions from the psychologists Ortony, Clore, and Collins.

OpenSSI, a framework for analysing social signals in realtime.

YALLAH, Yet another low‐level agent handler.



Dr. Patrick Gebhard (Computer Science, gebhard(at)

PD. Dr. Dimitra Tsovaltzi (Educational Technology, dimitra.tsovaltzi(at)

Dr. Fabrizio Nunnari (Computer Science, fabrizio.nunnari(at)

Prof. Dr. Cornelius König (I/O Psychology, ckoenig(at)

M.Sc. Psych. Tanja Schneeberger (Computational Psychology, tanja.schneeberger(at)