Agents Sharing Secrets - Self-disclosure in Long-Term Child-Avatar Interaction

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A key challenge in developing companion agents for children is keeping them inter- ested after novelty e ects wear o . Self-Determination Theory posits that motivation is sustained if the human feels related to the agent. According to Social Penetration Theory, such a bond can be welded through the reciprocal disclosure of information about the self. As a result of these considerations, we developed a disclosure dia- log module to study the self-disclosing behavior of children in response to that of a virtual agent. The module was integrated into a mobile application with avatar presence for diabetic children and subsequently used by 11 children in an exploratory eld study over the course of approximately two weeks at home. It was found that the relative amount of disclosures that children made to the avatar was an indicator for the relatedness children felt towards the agent at the end of the study. Girls were signi cantly more likely to disclose and children preferred to reciprocate avatar disclosures of lower intimacy. No relationship was found between the intimacy level of avatar disclosures and child disclosures. Particularly the last nding contradicts prior child-peer interaction research and should therefore be further examined in con rmatory research.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen